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Story of the Hermès Birkin

Caroline F

Hermes Birkin

Story of the Hermès Birkin

In 1984, ten thousand feet above the air, somewhere between Paris and London, marked the birthday of Hermès’ most iconic bag: The Birkin Bag.

The young actress Jane Birkin met Jean-Louis Dumas, the chief executive of Hermès, by chance, on a flight to London. Jane Birkin was known to carry around a classic woven basket bag, carrying everything from a baby bottle to lipstick. She was trying to stow away her fully filled basket in the overhead compartment. However, her bag was already struggling to keep hold of all her belongings. Eventually her attempt failed and the entire content of her bag fell out and on to her. That’s when Jane started ranting about the problem that nice bags are not large enough to fit all of her belongings.

Watching this incident from the seat next to her, was Mr. Dumas, who was instantly inspired by Jane’s struggle with handbags. If Jane Birkin had such problems, she would most likely not be alone with her struggle! As the flight went on, Mr Dumas and Jane collaboratively designed a handbag suitable for a young mother, yet stylish and iconic. Jane eagerly drew a rough sketch of the perfect bag, on an airplane sickbag.

Proceeding from their airplane meeting, Mr. Dumas invited Jane over to the atelier in Paris. Together they viewed the finished product: Jane received the ever first created bag, named after her: the Birkin.

Only from the 90s on, did the Birkin become one of the most popular bags. Especially after it was aired on TV shows, presenting its exclusivity and quality, the Birkin’s waiting list exceeded 4 years. Many are unable to even come close to one, and must resort to the secondary market, in which the Birkin sells far above retail prices.

But why is the Birkin considered a luxury asset?

The Birkin is known as a luxury item that appreciates in value year after year. From 1980 to 2015, the handbag has on average increased in return by 14.2% per annum. It's not only the waiting list of up to 6 years that makes the bag so rare and demanded, it's the exclusiveness. Money is not the only hurdle when buying such a bag. Its close connections, long lasting purchase relations, or a well renowned celebrity status that can fast track someone on the waiting list.

It’s a timeless piece of investment, and has despite the pandemic, not decreased in value. With continuously rising prices and demand still growing, the Birkin bag is considered a promising investment. Some Birkin bags have sold for 50% above retail prices; the most expensive ever sold Birkin was the Himalaya bag, priced at over $430,000.

There are a few main factors influencing the high price of the Birkin. Its limited supply and the production time: a single artisan produces the entire Birkin within 48 hours of manual labour. Its constant high demand: the wait list has at times reached 6 years and demand does not slow down. Lastly, it’s their exceptional quality: Hermès uses the best quality materials, and lays great value on exceptional craftsmanship.

Although Birkins start at €14,000, they are hard to acquire. Konvi aims to break these barriers, by offering partial ownership into alternative luxury asset classes. Sign up to our app to get notified about our exclusive offerings, handbags may follow next!

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