It’s no secret that I love luxury.
Sometimes I fantasize that I live inside the Gucci store. Except it’s not a store, it’s my house, where even the mousetraps are by Gucci.
That being said, there are luxury items that are so over the top, they seem out of control.
Which is why I never understood the Birkin bag from Hermes – which starts out at $6000 and goes up to $120,000+.
I mean, I KNOW the story behind why it was created – and it’s a cool story.
Here’s the rundown. 1970s model, singer, and icon Jane Birkin had a signature bag. Not from Hermes.
Nope, she carried a basket. Like a picnic basket.
In the early 1980s, Jane was on a flight from London to Paris, and her basket tumbled from the overhead luggage compartment, scattering her belongings all over the place.
The gallant gentleman sitting in the seat next to her helped her gather everything up, and asked her why she didn’t carry a handbag. She replied that none of the fashionable bags had an interior pocket, so she might as well be carrying a straw basket.
It turns out that the gallant gentleman was none other than Hermes designer Jean-Louis Dumas, who then created the bag with Jane in mind – interior zip pocket and everything.
Okay, great story. But it’s going to take a lot more than a story and a 1970s icon to make me throw down $6000 (at the low end!) for a bag.
So what’s the REAL deal with the Birkin?
After a little digging around, my research team discovered some things about the Birkin that make the high-end pricing seem like a BARGAIN!
And having high-prices seem like a bargain is the REAL secret to luxury pricing – NOT slapping on an over-inflated price and hope you get it because you think you’re worth it. You can’t think it. You have to know it. You have to embody your premium pricing.
If you want to be on the Hermes bag fabrication team, you need to go through a 3 year apprenticeship.
3 YEARS before you can help craft a single bag.
And the Birkin bag has master craftspeople for every stage in creating the bag.
: Master tanners to achieve the perfect buttery soft leather.
: Master dyers to give the leathers an incredible range of rainbow colors.
: Master cutters, stitchers, and riveters to build the bags from the ground up.
All the rivets, zippers, and hardware are cast by hand, coated with gold or palladium (no peeling away to reveal brass underneath), then buffed, polished, and installed by a craftsperson.
Now, I have a background in apparel design, and I know how to design and sew a fanny pack and a software luggage bag.
If you’re doing it right, it’s time consuming and finicky – this is no bikini you’re whipping up.
So to make a profit on a bag requires nimble manufacturing – which is why so many brands resort to sweatshop labor.
But not the Birkin. There is NO assembly line manufacturing this baby.
Each bag takes about 50 hours to create. More than a WEEK for each bag.
The artisans take so much pride in their work, they instituted a ‘bag spa’.
For as long as you own your bag, you can send it back to the workshop, where they will recondition it, for FREE!
Hermes also encourages its artisans to create freely – and in small batches.
No two Birkins are truly alike. And there are no repeat productions.
So if you see a red leather Birkin with palladium hardware and a unique stitching pattern, you will never see another one exactly like it. Ever.
Hermes considers each bag a work of art, so the master craftspeople and artisans are not held to a production schedule.
The delivery of bags to the boutiques is unpredictable – even the employees have no idea when bags might arrive.
At one point there was a waiting list of up to 6 years of people dying to get their hands on a Birkin.
No other bag has EVER evoked that kind of lust.
However, current head of Hermes – Axel Dumas – has done away with the waiting list, citing that celebrity culture cheapens the brand.
So now Beyonce, Victoria Beckham (who has a collection of Birkins worth $2 million!) and Kim Kardashian have to get in line, just like the rest of us mortals.
Or at least their assistants do.
And get this.
Since the demise of the waiting list in 2011, the popularity of the Birkin has SOARED.
Every bag crafted has been purchased. Every. Single. One.
And even more shocking?
The resale price of a Birkin at auction is typically 3 to 5 times over the original purchase price.
In fact, Forbes thinks a Birkin bag is one of the best commodity investments you can make.
TRUTH TIME: DOES YOUR PRICING PASS THE BIRKIN TEST?
: Have you set the standards?
: And are you holding to them?
: Even if Lady Gaga (or her assistant) called you and wanted to get in on what you have to offer, do you have enough pride and confidence in your product or service to actually charge her?
: Have you put in the time, energy, creativity, and work that justifies a hefty price tag? Even if no one ever knows about all that work but you?
Just like the Birkin.
Which I now find TOTALLY worth it. And I TOTALLY want one now.
If I ever create a vision board, the Birkin is going on it.