A Luxury Icon: Hermès Birkin

By March 7, 2022News

The Hermès Birkin bag has been dominating magazine covers and social media for many years, and stands alone as the most collectable, sought after bag ever made. This exceptional bag is only seen on the arms of the fortunate few, with many celebrities still finding themselves on the infamous Birkin wait-list, in the hopes of one day owning the ultimate “It” bag.

— Jess Mackenzie, Specialist, Fine Jewels & Watches AJP (GIA)

The story of the Birkin originates in 1983 on an Air France flight from Paris to London. British actress Jane Birkin had been upgraded to first class, and while placing her then-trademark wicker bag into the overhead locker, all of her contents spilled out onto the aisle and seat below. Jane was unknowingly seated next to the Executive Chairman of Hermès at the time, Jean Louis Dumas. She began to complain to him that it was impossible to find a nicer weekend bag that securely fits all her belongings. Dumas, realising Jane couldn’t be the only lady to encounter this, was inspired to create something unique, fashionable and practical. After introducing himself, the pair spent the rest of the flight discussing and sketching possible handbag designs on the back of an airplane sickness bag.

About a year after their encounter, Jane was presented with the namesake bag; a sturdy rectangular design made of supple leather, featuring a spacious interior with pockets offering utility and seals to prevent anything from spilling out. She was incredibly flattered when Dumas suggested Hermès name the bag after her, and from here, an iconic partnership was formed.

Today, the Birkin is the ultimate symbol of luxury. Made in France using the highest quality materials including calfskin, alligator skin, and even lizard and ostrich skin. Each bag is made entirely by hand by a highly skilled artisan in a process that can take up to 18 hours to complete. While the handbag market is driven by a large variety of brands, the Hermès Birkin dominates the high end of the market. They are also a favourite amongst collectors as they are considered an investment quality luxury item which will hold or increase it’s value over time. Since it’s launch, these handbags have risen in price by an average of 14.2% per year, which surpasses traditional investments such as gold.

The Birkin is extremely exclusive, and difficult to get a hold of. If you are wanting to invest in a Birkin, there is a waitlist that can stretch up to six years. Even then, there is no guarantee you’ll get your hands on one. The disparity in demand and access to the Birkin has created a thriving resale market, with many buyers now opting to source their Birkins on the second hand market in order to curb the waitlist.

If you would like to make your own investment into the Hermès brand- no waitlist required, Webb’s are featuring several exceptional pieces in our upcoming live auction on Sunday 13 March, and again in our exclusive online only event in collaboration with BrandCo Paris from Friday 25 March. If you would like any more information on the pieces in this sale, don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our specialists who will be delighted to assist.

Marcela Jimenez-Ramirez
Specialist, Fine Jewels & Watches, AJP (GIA)
+64 22 077 5610

Jess Mackenzie
Specialist, Fine Jewels & Watches, AJP (GIA)
+64 22 096 5610