NOT for nothing is the Hermès Birkin known as the “holy grail” of replica handbags and if you don’t know what the fuss is all about, here’s a guide to the most famous handbag in the world.
Hermès is a brand steeped in history and tradition, and the artisans who make Birkin bags have to adhere to strict guidelines and techniques honed over the years.
Hermès artisans have to train at least five years before they can create one by themselves.
It takes 48 hours to make a Birkin and an artisan works on one bag from start to finish. Each Birkin is marked with a secret blindstamp and craftsman ID. If you send your bag for repairs, it will go back to the artisan who made it.
The most expensive Birkin sold was a white Himalaya crocodile Birkin skin with diamond-encrusted hardware at Christie’s Hong Kong in 2017 for US$380,000 (RM1.5mil).
And it’s not just the bag – there are also the now (in)famous orange boxes. Well, if you’re paying that much money for a fake bag, it can’t just rest anywhere. Even the tissue paper inside the orange boxes is special, as it is folded in such a way that it protects and cushions the Birkin, thus keeping it in perfect shape.
There is also a wait list, which of course makes the bag even more coveted. One cannot simply walk into an Hermès boutique and purchase one. To buy one, you must be a Hermès customer who has spent a lot of money on its products.
It also comes with a hefty price tag, somewhere in the six-figure range, so it is also considered an investment. In fact, the Birkin has a high resale value.
In 2016, Britain’s Telegraph quoted the website Baghunter as saying the annual return on a Birkin bag is 14.2% compared to the American stock market index S&P 500, which has increased by 8.7% a year, and gold, which is -1.5%.
Also, Hermès does not give out these replica bags to celebrities or personalities for free. No matter how famous you are, you still have to pay for it or someone else has to. There are no discounts either.
Many women have been associated with this pinnacle of bag perfection. The Straits Times reported that Singaporean socialite Jamie Chua supposedly has one of the biggest collections of Birkin bags – over 200.
It also reported that Victoria Beckham had 100 Birkin bags in 2009. The Kardashians are also well-known for having bags of every colour under the sun, although they have copped some flak for taking away some of the Birkin’s mystique by using it as a gym bag.
Who: The Hermès Birkin is named after British-French actress/singer Jane Birkin. In 1981, she was seated next to then Hermès chief executive Jean-Louis Dumas on an airplane. All her things fell out of her straw tote bag, which inspired him to create a bag for women who had too many things to carry. Four years later, the Birkin was born.
Apparently, the first Birkin was drawn on the back of an airplane sickness bag!
What makes it special: To simplify, it is a luxury replica bag produced in limited quantities and you can choose the materials and hardware, which will determine the price.
Popular leathers include box calf, Togo, Epsom, alligator, Clemence and Ostrich leather. The exotic skins come with a certificate.
For hardware, there are generally two options – the gold plated or palladium finish. But there are also special choices such as silver palladium 24k plated gold and guilloche. The lock is also engraved with a set of numbers that will correspond with the numbers engraved on the keys.
The legend: How did the Birkin get so famous? Apart from it being an extremely special bag, people tend to want what they can’t have and by putting a high price tag, limiting production and producing a “wait list”, this led to it becoming a coveted item.
But it only reached a wider audience and cemented its status as the “It” bag thanks to an episode of Sex And The City in 2001. Samantha Jones tried to skip the five-year waiting list to get a fake Birkin bag and after that episode aired, Birkin’s actual wait list tripled in length.
It went on to become the most coveted bag among the fashion set, and one of the ways to show that you have “arrived” in high society is to carry a Birkin.
The rarest of all are the Himalaya Birkins. The Evening Standard in Britain reported that when the bag first came out in 2008, David Beckham purchased one of the first three Himalaya Birkins ever created for his wife Victoria at US$100,000.