Hermès Birkin: The Icon of Luxury

The world-renowned, globally recognizable Hermès Birkin is a staple wish list item for every luxury shopper. This year, luxury bag admirers look fondly back on the Hermès Birkin’s history, in light of the bag’s co-designer – Jane Birkin’s – death. Debuted thirty-nine years ago, the iconic design of this highly functional handbag has since become known as the epitome of luxury and exclusivity, creating an everlasting legacy in the fashion world under Jane Birkin’s name.

The story of Hermès Birkin’s establishment is one of very humble nature. While on a flight in 1983 traveling from Paris to London, the CEO of the company Jean-Louis Dumas and British French actress Jane Birkin met. A conversation began between the two, in which Birkin complained that she was unable to find a suitable handbag to fit all her belongings in. Upon this remark, Dumas found motivation, instantly drawing up a design of the next most functional handbag, per Birkin’s comments. Designed upon the back of one of the airplane’s sick bags, Dumas had drawn up the soon-to-be-named Birkin: a handbag with the structure of a roomy interior, turn lock front that would securely keep all one’s possessions sealed, two rolled handles for dependable holding, and many other famous features that would make up its renowned foundation. This initial design used box calf leather, one of the finest and most premium leathers that display a distinguishable shine rather than a plain matte. Come 1984, the Hermès Birkin debuted to the public, and sales soared instantly.

Hermès, the luxury design house established in France in 1837, is a company known for its rich history and utmost quality. The exclusivity of the luxury brand – especially the Birkin – is attributed due to their limited supply, making those lucky enough to get their hands on one, a very compelling moment. The price tag of a Birkin ranges, from their base models starting from roughly $10,000 AUD. However, if you are interested in a more exclusive Birkin with unique leathers, materials, hardware, and sizes, the cost could equal up to $250,000 AUD.

The Hermès Birkin has been worn by many household names, giving more attention to the already globally glorified bag. Pop culture names such as Victoria Beckham, Lady Gaga, Gigi Hadid, Kate Moss, Pippa Middleton, and many more have all been seen with their own Birkin. But as for Jane Birkin herself, her use of the Birkin is admirable. Jane has been known to only own one of her bags at a time, auctioning off her used ones and giving the proceeds to charity. The actress once famously stated in an interview with Women’s Wear Daily: “I sold one of my Birkin bags for $163,000 to help the Japanese Red Cross”. It is this generous and liberal attitude, that inspires many Hermès Birkin admirers to this day.

If you wish for a handbag that articulates optimum luxury without comprising functionality, the Hermès Birkin is most definitely for you.