How Birkin Became the “IT” Bag of the Fashion Industry

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In this week’s Fashion Case Study, we look at Birkin and how it became the “IT” Bag of the Fashion Industry. If you have not heard of Birkin, you are probably not a Fashion Enthusiast or you probably live under a rock. Whatever the case may be, we are here to break down this bag and give you a little Fashion history, while sharing some much-needed information. 

If this is something that interests you, keep reading as we share “How Birkin Became the ‘IT” Bag of the Fashion Industry.

What Is Birkin and How Did It Come About?

Jane Birkin in the 80s

The Birkin Bag is deemed as the ultimate “Status Symbol”, the bag was named after Jane Birkin, a Paris-based British Actress in the 80s. 

Its existence was a happy accident, borne out of an exchange between Birkin and former Hermès chief executive Jean-Louis Dumas on an Air France flight from Paris to London in the early ’80s. Birkin, who had been upgraded, ended up sitting next to the executive; when the contents spilled out of her bag, Dumas suggested she needed one with pockets, and this sparked a conversation about her ideal accessory. As she recounted to The Telegraph in 2012, the actress ended up doodling her specifications for “a handbag that is bigger than the Kelly but smaller than Serge [Gainsbourg]’s suitcase” on a sick bag. The rest is handbag history. 

How Birkin Became the “IT” Bag of the Fashion Industry

The Birkin was roomy, yet elegant and somewhat sporty but exuded class and opulence with its gold hardware and signature padlock and of course because Jane Birkin was photographed with the bag. Requests for the bag quickly spread and Hermes’ decided to add the bag to its collection but making it exclusive by setting a high price tag. The goal was to make the bag sought after but choosing who would receive the bag which then included celebrities like Princess Diana, Victoria Beckham, and Jennifer Lopez just to name a few.

Princess Diana Birkin
Princess Diana in the 90s with her Birkin

You are probably wondering why would they create a bag that nobody else can afford and it’s all about the buyer’s psychology. We all want something we can’t have which makes it more desirable. The brand also began experimenting with materials besides leather to include: snakeskin, crocodile skin, and ostrich leather. 

Victoria Beckham Birkin Bag

Did you know? the Birkin wasn’t an immediate hit: it only really took off in the late ’90s, at the dawn of the It-bag era. Thirty years on from its launch, demand is such that there is no longer a waiting list for the bag, in the classic sense of the term.

“It’s a wish list, not an order list. They don’t take orders any more; you just have to hope,”

says Lalande, who estimates that there are some 200,000 Birkins in circulation. And the Birkin’s limited availability has undoubtedly helped its success at auction. The most expensive bag ever to go under the hammer, according to WWD, was a red Porosus crocodile Birkin with 18-carat white-gold and diamond ‘hardware’, sold for $203,150 (£129,355) at auction in Dallas in 2011.

The Birkin’s rarity and value have inevitably made it prime fodder for counterfeiters, and there have been several arrests in recent years. The idea that the bag, which takes around 20 hours to produce, can generate up to 35,000 euros (£27,774), proved too tempting for some. An international crime ring producing Hermès copies was dismantled by French police in 2012.

This has also opened a new market for Millennials and top Influencers who are able to purchase the bag then re-sell for triple the price on luxury consignment sites like The Real Real and We have seen bags as expensive as $30,000 on a few of these sites. Most individuals who own these bags see them as an investment and if they have earned a few over the years and decide to re-sell, the money they can earn is just enough for the downpayment of a house or a luxury vehicle. Singaporian Socialite Jamie Chua is known to have the most Birkin Bags in the world, with a shocking collection of over 200 bags!

Key Takeaways

  • The Birkin Bag became popular due to a chance encounter between Jane Birkin and Jean-Louis Dumas on a flight.
  • The Bag was designed to Jane’s specification, where she was photographed in the Bag which sparked interest in the new trend.
  • Psychology was a tool used to create interest and awareness around the bag.
  • Making the Bag more expensive made it more exclusive and desirable.
  • Authentic Birkin Bags never go on sale as they are considered a luxury item and only those who can truly afford it should make the sacrifice to purchase.

Do you own a Birkin Bag or would like to own one? What is the most you are willing to pay? Tell us in the comments below.

Visit the Blog each Monday as we bring you our Fashion Case Studies on the Fashion Industries’ latest and greatest trends! If you found this post valuable, be sure to share it on your Social Media Platforms and Bookmark the page so you can use it as a reference.

#How Birkin Became the “IT” Bag of the Fashion Industry

#How Birkin Became the “IT” Bag of the Fashion Industry

#How Birkin Became the “IT” Bag of the Fashion Industry

#How Birkin Became the “IT” Bag of the Fashion Industry

Haute People was launched in September 2011 as a Fashion Blog and has grown into a Lifestyle Blog. The Term “Haute” can be defined as “Fashionably Elegant” or of High Quality. This blog looks at topics from Beauty, Fashion, Entertainment, Hair Trends, Pop Culture as well as exciting new features every month. A favorite among our readers is “Behind The Seams” where influential people from the Creative Industries are featured. . Haute People are Smart, Bold, Creative and Individualistic. If you have an innate passion for Lifestyle, Fashion and all things current, you are HAUTE.

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