Hermès’ Birkin is the considered the holy grail in handbags. Over the years, owning a Birkin has demonstrated high social status, as it is toted by numerous celebrity A-listers. This sought after piece owes its fame to its excellent craftsmanship and timelessness of design, as well as its exclusivity. Very few Birkins are made every year and Hermès stores are never sure when they will receive new stock.
During recent years, the Birkin has made headlines. In June this year, a vintage Hermès Birkin sold for £162,500 at Christie’s in London, making it the most expensive handbag sold in a European auction. The 10-year old bag was made of Nile crocodile skin in grade 2 condition, which showed off an 18-carat, white gold, diamond-encrusted lock. Just last year, an anonymous buyer laid down £253,000 for a Birkin bag during an auction in Hong Kong.
Its high value may baffle many, but it has been considered by numerous sources as a better investment choice than gold, property and stocks. The bag’s value has consistently risen year on year and by a total of 14.2 per cent across 35 years.
Whilst it is clear that the bag is sought after, many ask the question just what is it that makes it so special?
The Birkin was first designed in 1983 when Hermès’ then-chief executive, Jean-Louis Dumas, sat next to British-French actress Jane Birkin on a flight between Paris and London. The idea for the iconic piece was ignited when Birkin’s diary fell out of her weekend bag, thus allowing a flurry of papers to scatter everywhere.
After Dumas kindly helped her with the mess, she voiced her frustrations that she was yet to find a bag that could efficiently carry all her things. Clearly, Birkin had spoken to the perfect person, as Dumas then introduced himself and promised he would design her a weekend bag to suit her needs. After meeting in the Hermès workshop in Paris, they bag finally sprang to life and it only made sense to name it after the actress herself.
Weekend bags are bound to get a little knocked around during travels, but the Birkin is a good example which stands the test of time. With its durability and repairability, the Birkin is bound to stick with you for many years and can be relied on as a trusty travel companion. The original bag, also known as the ‘travel Birkin’ was sized at 40cm (40cm x 30cm x 21cm) and designed to be the perfect size for Jane, and agreeably many others who love the bag equally.
Over the years, Hermès have designed Birkins of various versions and sizes. The standard Birkins come in 25cm, 30cm and 35cm. There are also other versions such as the JPG Shoulder, which has a more casual, slouchy appearance, with long handles so it can be comfortably worn on the shoulder. The original JPG Shoulder, designed by Jean Paul Gaultier in 2005, was eventually discontinued and replaced by the JPG Shoulder II. This model had a slimmer base, was lightweight and adorned with a padlock mimicking the original Birkins.
The Haut á Courroies, commonly shortened to HAC, is considered the predecessor to the Birkin. It was designed originally in the 1800s to carry riding equipment. It’s quite a bit taller than the Birkin and the drop of the handle allows it to be carried by hand, rather than slung over the shoulder like the modern versions. Our Blue Paon Chevre Mysore Leather Birkin 36CM HAC is a gorgeous and stylish travel companion, made of goatskin leather with a blue interior and palladium hardware. This detailed piece is not only stunning to look at but has plenty of room to accommodate the essentials for last-minute city breaks abroad.
The 25cm Birkin first launched in 2004. Whilst it is a long stretch away in size from the original 40cm size, the 25 really has a quaint, dainty appearance whilst retaining the same form of elegance. This particular size is very popular in Asia, but very hard to get hold of in Europe and considered a must-have for fashion collectors. Despite its size, the 25cm is still quite spacious compared to other mini bags, which are a current hot trend amongst A-listers and fashion aficionados alike. Our pre-loved Zanzibar Swift Leather Birkin in a beautiful blue is perfect for evening events - not too small for the essentials but at the same time not too big to make it unmanageable to take out. It comes with palladium hardware, a turnlock padlock and is in unworn condition.
A 30cm Birkin is probably the best size suited for everyday use. Our Bambou & Etain Togo Leather Birkin is a versatile piece for occasion and everyday wear in a standout emerald green colour accented subtlety by the use of the industrial grey in the piping, sangles and handle. Additionally, our bright Bougainville Clemence Leather Birkin in blush pink is an equally perfect choice for day-to-day use, especially in summer months.
The current modern favourite is the 35cm Birkin. It is considered the perfect size by many and also deemed the best choice if the investment factor is your driving force in purchasing a Birkin. Whilst the size is probably suited best for daily use, it could possibly also be large enough for short haul travel too. Our Black Shiny Porosus Crocodile Leather Birkin is naturally a great choice due to the versatile and classic colour which is ideal for work or even for taking out to dinner. The crocodile leather makes a statement with its textured look and feel.
Finally, we move onto the original Birkin which began the iconic Birkin craze - the 40cm. This size is now considered less commonly available compared to the 30cm and 35cm sizes. This is perhaps chalked down to it being too large for everyday use as it is best reserved for travel. The size is also particularly popular with men. This surely does not mean it should be left out of your collection, as this sturdy piece will keep your items secure and allow you to travel in the ultimate form of luxury and style. Our Black Clemence Leather Birkin, circa 2003, is a practical choice for those who find themselves spending more time sleeping on a plane than in their own bed.
Dependent entirely on your needs, there is definitely a Birkin out there for everyone. If colours and textures are chosen wisely, you could have a size suitable for almost any occasion. Discover our full collection of pre-loved Hermès Birkin bags online at Xupes today.