Hermès Birkin bags are the ultimate symbol of luxury and status. A piece of arm candy like no other. The Birkin bag is seen as the most exclusive accessory in the world, with some even labelling it as a better investment than gold. But where did the Birkin bag come from and how has it made its name in the fashion world?

Holding Hermes Birkin

A brief history of the Hermès Birkin bag

Let’s start at the beginning. Created in 1984, the Hermès Birkin bag gets its name from British actress Jane Birkin who accidentally crossed paths with Hermès chief executive Jean-Louis Dumas in the early ’80s. The Paris-based actress sat next to Dumas on a flight from Paris to London, where the contents of her bag spilt out, which prompted a discussion about the ideal bag and the fact bags should have larger pockets. The initial bag design was drawn up by Dumas on that very same flight.

Although the Birkin bag didn’t start to become popular until the late 1990s, the bag represented a statement in fashion as the first of its kind and has helped build Hermès into the household name they are now.

What is so special about the Birkin bag?

The Hermès Birkin bags are specially produced purses that use fine materials, like crocodile, cow, lizard and ostrich. Not only do they use premium animal skins, but they also use some of the finest calf leathers in the world.

Each bag is handmade and it takes a lot of hard work and craftsmanship to make every individual purse, which means the bags remain exclusive to a deep-pocketed few. The premise of the Hermès Birkin bag is that they are exclusive, which justifies the high price.

Birkin’s come in a range of sizes, ranging from 25cm to 55cm for the larger travel sizes. It also has a lock and key feature on the front of the bag. The keys can be found in a leather lanyard often referred to as a clochette, which is also attached to the bag. To lock the bag, simply close the flaps over the buckle loop, or you can wrap the straps and close the lock fixture at the front of the bag. Sounds complicated, but it is relatively easy in practice, which is why so many favour the Birkin bag over the Kelly bag.

Hermes Store

How much is a new one?

The Birkin bag starts at around £6,000 for the basic design, if you can buy one from Hermès themselves. It’s often more common to buy a Birkin used from resellers, and if you are interested in buying one, you will need to reach out to a Hermès store assistant and they will be able to help you with your Birkin search. The key to buying or selling a Hermès Birkin is to remain patient. Sometimes it can take months, or even years to source the right style and colour Birkin bag – the wait will be worth it though.

The Birkin’s value does seem to be increasing throughout the years as well and it’s estimated that the Hermès Birkin retains around 130% of its value at resale. Making it a worthy investment for some.

Can you walk into Hermès and purchase a Birkin bag?

Unfortunately not, there used to be a waitlist, but now the purses are even more exclusive. Unless you’re lucky enough to be selected for receiving one or can pay for one, Birkin bags are not available immediately and they can’t be bought by anyone who just walks in.

Who has the largest Birkin bag collection in the world?

You might think it would be Kim Kardashian or Victoria Beckham who owns the largest Birkin bag collection in the world, but it’s in fact flight attendant turned socialite and YouTuber Jamie Chua who owns the most Hermès bags. In her 700 square foot, fingerprint-secured wardrobe, Chua has amassed around 200 Hermès purses in an impressive display of crocodile skin and bright colours. Chua’s reasons for favouring Hermès over any other designer brand are because they never go out of style and are a great investment piece as they maintain their value extremely well.

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Who owns the rarest Birkin?

The rarest Birkin bag is the Himalayan Birkin, which Jamie Chua unsurprisingly also owns. The rarity of Hermès bags also keeps the demand for them high too.

The Hermès Himalayan Birkin

A bag that’s worth more than a house, but what’s so special about it? Well, The Hermès Himalayan Birkin is the holy grail, the creme de la creme of bags. Dubbed ‘the rarest bag in the world’, this purse, or should we say piece of art, is made from albino crocodile skin. You can’t put a wish list in for this rare beauty, you have to be well known by the design house, spend a fortune and then be invited to purchase one. One even sold for $500k in 2019 which was made from white crocodile skin and is encrusted with 10.23 carats of diamond.

The name of the Himalayan Birkin comes from the bag’s colour design, which begins as grey and gradually fades into white. Replicating the idea of the Himalayas, which are covered in a blanket of snow.

The Himalayan bag doesn’t tell us anything other than what we already know about the Hermès brand. It oozes craftsmanship, class and luxury. Customers continuously buy Hermès pieces to stand out and to be seen among the crowd, that is no different when it comes to the Himalayan Birkin.