Few surnames – in the fashion industry or elsewhere – are as closely associated with a singular object as that of Jane Birkin.
In fact, for many, the word “Birkin” relates uniquely to the world’s chicest handbag, and it wasn’t until news broke of the sad passing of the ultimate fashion icon, Jane Birkin, that they realized the beloved Hermès bag carried the name of a particular person.
But why was the name Jane Birkin given to such a bag? And why has this bag gained such popularity? And how do you get your hands on a bag without remortgaging the house?
Here are six things you might not know about the world’s most in-demand (and most expensive!) accessory…
1. The Hermès Birkin was first drawn on an airplane vomit bag
It’s not fancy, but it’s true. In 1981, 34-year-old Jane Birkin found herself upgraded by Air France on a flight to London and seated next to a man who would later turn out to be the visionary artistic director and president of Hermès, Jean-Louis Dumas.
“I’m not quite sure what kind of bag I had with me,” Jane told vogue in 2012. My husband Jacques Doillon had reversed his car on my basket, and had crushed it a few days before. (Dumas) thought I deserved better. »
“Little did he know that on that plane trip, when everything had fallen out of the bag I had, the man next to me said to me, ‘You should have one with pockets.’ I replied that the day Hermès made one with pockets, I would take it, and he said to me: “but I am Hermès, and I will put pockets in your pockets”. »
To make the most of this chance encounter, Jane Birkin suggested: “Why don’t you make a handbag bigger than the Kelly but smaller than Serge’s suitcase? He said, “Well, what would that look like?” I think I drew it on the vomit bag. And he said to me: “I will do it for you”. »
2. Some celebrity fans own more than one
Of course, years later, the appeal of the Hermès Birkin bag is undeniable.
Kim Kardashian, Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, Cardi B, Victoria Beckham, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Kylie Jenner and Heidi Klum… nothing will stop these stars from getting their hands on one of the most coveted pieces.
But they don’t stop at just one, as Kylie owns 13 and Cardi B continues to add more than 26 pieces to her collection, as she revealed this month during a Get Ready With video. Me of vogue“Everyone thinks I came here for Couture Week, but in reality I came to buy a Birkin bag. I can’t find it anywhere in the United States. And let me tell you something, she continues. I looked for this Birkin for two months, then my Hermès contact told me it was coming to New York, and I think he sold it to someone else. But that’s okay because I came here to buy it myself. »
Street style followers are, of course, equally obsessed with the Birkin bag. Some of fashion week’s favorite names like Emili Sindlev, Tamara Kalinic and Stephanie Broek have been spotted with their Birkin bags over the past few seasons.
3. The most expensive bag ever sold was for more than 277,000 euros
While the most standard Hermès Birkin bags cost several thousand – usually tens of thousands – of pounds, some styles welcome an even more enticing price tag.
Breaking the record in 2018 and becoming the most expensive bag ever sold at auction, the Birkin 35 in Mat Himalaya Niloticus crocodile with 18k white gold and diamond fittings (below) saw the hammer come down on it for the colossal sum of 236,750 pounds sterling (i.e. more than 277,000 euros).
4. You can rent one
For the savviest shoppers among us who aren’t afraid to share, thanks to a slew of awesome rental platforms launched in recent years, it’s now possible to walk around with a Hermès Birkin bag on your arm without having to feel guilty about a six-figure purchase.
In the United Kingdom, for example, the company ByRotation offers several bags for hire, the most affordable being the Hermès Birkin 35 khaki with gold accessories, sold in stores for nearly 10,000 euros, but which can be rented for 58 euros per day.
5. TikTok is obsessed
Perhaps surprisingly, the Birkin is also in high demand on TikTok. With #hermesunboxing amassing 101.7 million views and #birkinunboxing 9.2 million views, there’s no denying users’ appetite for luxury fashion.
Hanushka Toni, founder of resale company Sellier and dubbed the “Queen of Birkin”, noticed that the huge increase in the starring of the Hermès Birkin bag on TikTok was followed by a surge in the number of stars of TikTok who buy the bags and reveal the process on their social media platforms.
“It’s not uncommon for customers of our Monaco boutique to spend over 100,000 euros in a single visit,” she revealed. In January, a 19-year-old TikTok star spent 180,000 euros on two bags. She documented the shopping process from the store, and the unboxing video was posted to her page within 24 hours, racking up thousands of likes and views. »
Since Jane Birkin passed away on July 16, Sellier has seen an 800% increase in searches for “Jane Birkin,” with many customers searching for the specific styles she wore.
6. You can’t just walk into a store and buy one
This will not shock fans of Sex and the City who remember Samantha Jones’ struggle to bypass the waiting list and get her hands on a Birkin in season 4, but buying a Birkin isn’t as easy as walking into a store and giving some ‘money.
Although waiting lists at Hermès stores technically no longer exist, it’s still a matter of who you know, as demand continues to far outstrip supply.
It is therefore best to inquire in store about upcoming deliveries and establish a relationship with the sales expert. So when the model of your choice is available in the store, you will be at the top of their list of potential buyers to call.
Alternatively, and if you’re looking for a less complicated process, you can head to resale, vintage, and rental sites to get your hands on a bit of the Birkin magic.
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Originally posted on Glamor UK