The iconic Hermès Birkin bag has dominated fashion magazine covers, swayed from the arm of countless celebrities, and sold for record sums of money at auctions. The instantly recognizable design, vivid colors, exotic materials, and meticulous attention to detail make the Birkin the most desired handbag in the world. A Birkin bag can sell for significant profit on the secondary market, combining its iconic status with the reputation as a genuine investment opportunity. However, why is a Hermès bag so expensive? What makes the Birkin stand out from its competitors? There are several factors at play, all of which combine and contribute to the high value of Birkin handbags.
The first factor at play is the supreme quality of the Birkin bag, with fastidious attention to details during all stages of the creation process. Hermès consider every Birkin bag a piece of art and as such are extremely fussy regarding the quality of materials used and the artisan who is responsible for crafting the bag. Hermès considers only elite craftsmen with extensive experience working with high-grade leathers for the tedious task of creating a Birkin bag. In fact, a single artisan is responsible for the creation of the bag from start to finish and identifies his work with a unique sequence of number, letters, and symbols usually located beside the blind stamp on the clasp.
The process of creating a Birkin bag has six main phases, each of which is designed to ensure an excellent result. These phases are:
Preparation and cutting of the material. This step involves the precise inspection of the hide or skin for any defects. Once a high-grade leather is selected, the artisan tediously removes all minor defects, and the material is cut into size depending on the requirements for the bag.
Taking shape. The section of material is then placed in a wooden clamp and stitched together to form the shape of a Birkin bag. Each stitch is carefully threaded to ensure both aesthetic beauty and a firm hold.
Smoothing the rough edges. Once the craftsman completes the stitching, he gently uses a hammer to conceal the seam. Shaving, sanding, and waxing is also part of this process which is the most time consuming of all of the phases.
Shaping and adding the handle. Using the same material as the main body of the bag, the artisan layers up to five sections to create the handle. The shape of the handle forms as the layers When finished, the artisan carefully stitches the handle onto the main body of the bag.
Finishing touches. The last elements added to the bag is the hardware. Attached using a process called “Pearling,” the lock, studs, clasp and other components are attached without any screws whatsoever.
Final inspection. Before the bag begins its journey to its new owner, a second craftsman or workshop inspector thoroughly examines the bag to ensure it meets the perfectionist standards of Hermès. Once the bag passes the inspection, it is stamped and sent to the Hermès Logistics Center where a final review takes place, before shipping to a Hermès boutique.
The next factor is an ingenious strategy employed by Hermès since the release of the Birkin bag in the early 1980s. Production of Birkin bags is highly controlled and limited to a minimal number each year. The bags are never advertised to maintain their scarcity and to purchase a Birkin bag directly from a Hermès store or boutique is next to impossible. The difficulty in purchasing directly from Hermès has created an aura around Birkin bags as a mythical, almost unobtainable bag and a prize possession for anyone who is lucky enough to get their hands on the iconic handbag. In fact, the strategy is working so well that Hermès is considering scaling back on production further still over the coming years. What this means for the value of Birkins is an almost inevitable rise in cost and a constant contributing factor as to why the Birkin is so expensive.
Consistent Value Increase
Continuing from the previous point, the steady value growth for Birkin bags is certainly a contributing factor in the high price of Birkin bags. Since the launch of the Birkin bag, the price has risen by an average of 14.2% per year, outperforming traditional investments such as the S&P 500 and gold markets. This consistent value increase has several consequences which help to explain why Hermès is so expensive.
- Firstly, the average value increase far outperforms inflation and represents a significant average yearly rise in the cost of buying a Birkin.
- Secondly, the average price growth is witnessed more severely on the secondary market as people are willing to pay a premium so they can get their hands on an otherwise unobtainable bag.
- Thirdly, investors have started turning to Birkin handbags with the knowledge of ever increasing prices representing a good and safe investment.
If you wonder why Birkin bags are so expensive, the three points above are solid reasons for the ever rising cost of buying the iconic bag.
Celebrities love Hermès. Hardly a day goes by without a celebrity or famous figure sporting a Birkin bag for the paparazzi. Celebrities such as Lindsay Lohan, Victoria Beckham, Kim Kardashian, and Sarah Jessica Parker regularly don their Birkins in public. Even the first lady, Melania Trump, proudly displayed a crocodile Birkin when moving into the White House. Incidentally, as soon as the image of the first lady with her Birkin spread online, the demand and consequently value of that particular Birkin rose dramatically as people desperately tried to locate and purchase a similar bag. The Birkin’s big break in popular culture occurred in its 2001 appearance on “Sex and the City, ” and ever since then, the bag’s continuing presence in popular culture has contributed to demand and value.
We hope that when considering the points above, you will understand a little more when asking yourself “Why is the Hermès Birkin so Expensive?” What do you think contributes to the high cost of a Birkin bag? Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments below!