Classic Carrier: Why the Hermès Birkin Bag is Timeless

When you’re the best, you don’t need to compete.

So the logic goes for premier luxury good manufacturer Hermès. Largely rejecting the conventional wisdom of its competitors, including mass production, a reliable and steadfast supply chain model, and department store concessions with well-stocked backrooms, the luxury French house is aware that its allure comes vis-à-vis its air of mystery. Often coveted, much imitated, we delve into just what it is that make this iconic handbag so timeless.

The Company of Elites

Purchasing a Birkin bag allows you to join the exclusive ranks of stylish women (and a growing number of men) who tote around this classic piece of arm candy. The tradition began with Jane Mallory Birkin, after whom the bag is named.

Legend goes that the idea for the Birkin was born in the air. On a flight to London in the 1980s, songstress and actress Jane Birkin expressed her woes to the CEO of Hermès. She was unable to find a suitable weekend bag. Three years later it was in her hands, and has appeared in the crook of the arms of a global fashion brigade ever since.

The Finest Materials

Crocodile skin Birkin bag

The piece’s outward appearance is deceptively simple, with clean and minimal lines. But no expense is spared when it comes to its manufacturing. The selection of materials is rigorous, including the finest exotic animal skins like crocodile and ostrich.

Of course, when you’re dealing with ultra-rare and costly materials, you wouldn’t leave them in the hands of just anyone. Only the most skilled craftspeople are selected to be involved in the production process. The level of perfection expected is such that it takes a single artisan more than 20 hours to craft an Hermès Birkin bag from start to finish.

A Prohibitive Cost

Rare and expensive materials, a laborious manufacturing process, notorious exclusivity, and a historic legacy are all factors that go into the price of the Hermès Birkin. The bags start at over $8,500, and can rise to over $200,000.

While steep, the Birkin’s price also helps to control overpopulation. Your local subway car on your commute to work is likely littered with designer handbags, but you only rarely spot a Birkin. The effect is intentional: a hefty price tag goes hand in hand with exclusivity and high demand. And price aside, it is nearly impossible for the average person to purchase one.

Investment Power

Ostrich skin Birkin bag

Experts in the field have determined that Birkin bags are now a wiser investment than gold or silver. The scarcity of the bags and their long production time means the market is unlikely to ever be flooded with them. Existing Birkins are becoming more valuable than ever. Annual price increases suggest that the value of the piece only grows with age, making the choice to purchase one as an investment piece more and more justifiable.

Trends exist for a reason; they are meant to fade away. And when they do, it leaves iconic pieces like the Hermès Birkin bag to take center stage. While it’s fun to experiment with fads, when it comes to your wardrobe, (and your wallet), if there’s one thing the Birkin bag proves, it’s that nothing is a better investment than a timeless classic.

Photos: Wikimedia Commons, Wikimedia Commons

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Classic Carrier: Why the Hermès Birkin Bag is Timeless