To know you have arrived is to tote a Birkin. It’s really as simple as that. But to acquire one, as you may very well know, isn’t always the simplest task. Even if you have at least $9000USD to spare, you’d have to purchase it according to it’s unpredictable waiting list and scarce quantities for options. I thought it’d be fun to observe and discuss the Birkin today!
In 1981, the CEO of Hermes, Jean Louis Dumas, hopped on a flight from Paris to London, and was placed in a seat next to Jane Birkin. Birkin, who was traveling with one of her iconic straw baskets, was having a hard time with the overhead compartment and complained of her struggle to find a functional leather weekend bag.
With that in mind, Dumas took three years to craft a supple leather bag that reflected Birkin’s style – practically simple, but chic.
Birkins are hand sewn, buffed, painted and polished in Paris. While the average bag takes around 48 hours to make, the Birkin takes several more days. Due to its intricate workmanship and scarcity, it sits comfortably as the world’s most coveted and valued handbag. Which is why although it is free of logos, the Birkin stands as one of the most recognized bags in the world.
The Birkin comes in various colours, skins and hardware fixtures in accordance with the season of its release, and can be set in different sizes, ranging from 25 to 55 centimetres. Each comes with a lock and a set of keys (that are number coded), which are plated in gold or palladium (of which do not tarnish).
Today, it remains a symbol of fashionable wealth.
Of the bag, she fondly remarked, “I got my first Birkin at age 45. It’s kind of tragic when you think about it. Next Birkin I’ll go to Paris and order it myself… It’s sort of like diamonds though. Do you buy it yourself or do you let someone buy it for you?”
While the Birkin has been featured as the ultimate object of fashion fixation many a time, Michael Tonello’s 2008 memoir, Bringing Home The Birkin, was one of the very few representations that spawned a cult following for itself.
And it’s a good read – it chronicles how Tonello beat Hermes’s waitlist system to procure Birkins for wealthy but impatient clients. Tonello made bank on commission, and was put on speed dial to countless socialites and celebrities. Which really exemplifies how prolific the Birkin has become – it’s not just a bag; it’s couture culture.
One of the reasons I hold Lady Gaga in such high esteem, in fact, is due to the fact that she disregarded the exclusivity behind the Birkin to bespoke the ones she owned this year.
Leah & Bliss soon released a relatively affordable line of speckled Birkin-inspired bags called the Glamazon.
And unsurprisingly, the idea trickled down to the piracy trade. We like to call it the Funny Birkin – reusable shoppers that come in cheaper materials like canvas with a Birkin print.
The ones below are currently all the rage in Bangkok, going for 3000Baht a pop. Last month, my mum bought 6 of them. -.-
2010 was a year for many things; it was also the year the Birkin came back into vogue. But what say you? Would you fork out a fortune for a concept of status? Or do you genuinely covet the Birkin’s design? What do you think of Funny Birkins and it’s tongue-in-cheek piracy?
[Photo Credits: bagsnob, madaboutbags, krizia-shark-attack, stylemywardrobe, yaledailynews, theworldofjoyce, irishblogs, pursepage, aycatugce-tuna, zimbio, purseblog, busybeeblogger, famespy, trend911, anibaez, hautecontent]