When Coco Chanel expressed that ‘the best things in life are free, the second best things are very, very expensive’ she wasn’t wrong. The Hermès Birkin Bag ranks as one of the most expensive handbags in the world, and has become a symbol of status, wealth and luxury.
The price of Birkin bags range from £4,800 to £100,000, and saltwater crocodile Birkin bags have been known to sell for over $200,000. The bags are distributed to Hermès boutiques on unpredictable schedules and in limited quantities, which adds to the exclusivity and scarcity of the iconic bag.
The Birkin is undoubtedly a cult classic. The style is named after English actress and singer Jane Birkin, after Hermès chief executive Jean-Louis Dumas was seated next to her on a flight from Paris to London in 1981.
On the plane, Jane Birkin had placed her large, overflowing straw bag in the overhead compartment of her seat, but the contents fell to the floor. Dumas witnessed Birkin get on her hands and knees in order to retrieve the fallen objects, which prompted Birkin to explain to Dumas that it had been difficult for her to find a leather weekend bag she liked. Three years later, he created a magnificent, black supple leather bag for her, simply called the Birkin bag, which was based on an 1892 design.
The Birkin is available in a variety of hides, such as calf leather, lizard, ostrich and crocodile. Birkin bags which have leather with smaller scales are actually more expensive than styles with larger scales. The bag is also lined with goat skin, making it a fairly heavy, yet durable, style. The interior colour of the bag matches the colour of its exterior, which creates a sense of flow and continuity and adds to the unique quality of the bag.
The Birkin is available in a number of sizes, with two of the larger sizes especially intended for use as travelling bags. The iconic bag is available in a rainbow of colours, including pink, red, brown, baby blue, navy blue, olive green, orange, white, black and golden tan. The style also includes a fully functional lock and key fixture.
The metallic hardware (the lock, keys, buckle hardware and base studs) on the Birkin are often plated with gold in order to prevent tarnishing, and diamonds can be added to the details for added glamour.
Birkin bags are handmade in France by expert artisans, who use the company's signature saddle stitching, which was painstakingly developed in the 1800s. The style is expensive due to the fact that each bag is hand sewn, buffed, painted and polished, and it takes approximately 48 hours to create one of these exquisite bags.
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