Handbag Investment Pick: Hermès Birkin 35 “So Black”
by Reece Morgan | November 01, 2017
Shortly after Jean-Paul Gaultier’s “So Black” collection for Hermès hit the streets in the spring of 2010, it was recalled and discontinued. Much to Hermès’ embarrassment, the all-black effect, created by PVD-coating the hardware, had a slight structural floor, chipping and discolouring with heavy use. This ran deeply against Hermès’ credo and the collection was one they wanted to forget. Seven years later, however, the So Black is on the collector’s hot list, with its rarity boosting its value and its moody blackness giving it a mythical appeal.
Handbag collectors are always on the hunt for unusual, special edition pieces from the top brands, and when it comes to investment bags, Hermès are number one. The principal reason for such dominance is how long it takes them to handcraft their pieces, Birkins and Kellys in particular, which means that all their collections are made in relatively low quantities and are somewhat unique. This also part-explains the waiting lists; the other part being, arguably, savvy marketing.
But the So Black is in a league of its own. Hermès traditionally doesn’t make many special and fashion pieces, as its ethos demands timeless quality and classic styling. The So Black is one of the few exceptions, and when you add to this the short production run caused by a freak error, you start to understand its value. It has one other attractive ingredient too; it’s one of the pieces from Jean-Paul Gaultier’s final year as artistic director of women’s ready-to-wear at Hermès.
In the fashion world the eccentric Gaultier has an aura around him, and during his seven-year reign at the Parisian brand they rose to become one of the biggest luxury brands in the world. In spring 2010, Gaultier ran a tennis-inspired collection full of cardigans, tennis skirts, club t-shirts and a Birkin with a matching ball bag. The block-coloured handbags were original for Hermès but as well having a modern twist they still, fundamentally, had that eternally chic appeal.
The Birkin 35 edition like this one we managed to get our hands on has all the trademark Birkin features and the hardware is still in very good condition, which is what makes it so valuable. In general, for a piece like this in classic box calf leather, the value has more than doubled since 2010.
The only warning is that the So Black hardware does indeed scratch and fade, so this needs to be looked after. In other words, keep it in the cupboard as an investment piece!
For more on investment handbags follow our magazine or for buying options you can shop pre-owned and vintage luxury handbags at Xupes.