Every fashionista knows about this bag. The Birkin has appeared and been referenced in multiple pop culture pieces — most notably in an episode of ‘Sex and the City’ where it was a major part of the plot. “Why is it such an important bag?”, you might ask. Not only is it deemed as a great investment, a symbol of status and wealth but it’s also an item made with exceptional quality and has an intriguing origin story.

Brief History of Hermès

Hermès is synonymous with luxury, quality, and sophistication. From its early stages, the brand has been known for excellence. Today, Hermès is widely known for its silk scarves and two iconic handbags: the Birkin and the Kelly — the latter named in honor of the actress and princess of Monaco Grace Kelly.

However, the brand originally started as a horse equipment manufacturer in 1837 when harness-maker Thierry Hermès opened a workshop in Paris. Around 1880 the workshop moved to 24 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré where it remains today. In 1922, Hermès introduced its first leather bag. The previously mentioned Kelly bag (formerly known as sac à dépêches) was introduced in 1935, and staying true to the brand’s origins, the design was inspired by horse saddle bags. Today Hermès’ plethora of products range from leather goods and accessories to fragrances, jewelry and ready-to-wear.

The Origin Story of the Birkin

The now famous story has many forms but the main points are essentially the same. In 1984, a French-English singer and actress Jane Birkin was on a flight from Paris to London where she was seated next to the Hermès CEO Jean-Louis Dumas. Jane Birkin’s bag contents spilled out when she was moving it to the overhead compartment and she expressed her need for an elegant yet functional bag to Dumas. Dumas made note of this and swiftly drafted a sketch on an airplane sick-bag. The rest is history.

Why Is the Birkin Bag So Unique?

The Birkin has become a status symbol and gained popularity due to its rareness and exclusivity. There is a years-long waiting list in order to even get the item. Celebrities such as Jennifer Lopez, Kim Kardashian, Victoria Beckham and Kate Moss, among others, have been spotted sporting the iconic handbag. Each bag is handcrafted in France by trained artisans who spend hours on it. A bag is also crafted by a one single artisan and therefore no bag is the same which makes it even more unique. It is safe to say that the Birkin is far from an item that’s mass-produced in an assembly line hence the price and waiting list.


Putting in plenty of time and care into a fashion item ties in with the core idea of second-hand. Making things to last, buying used and caring for them enhance the longevity of an item. Not only is it better for the environment but it also makes you appreciate the product more.

For some, it is hard to see fashion as art but that’s what it ultimately is — or should be, at least when it comes to haute couture. Like any piece of art, fashion pieces require time, skill, and effort. Same principal applies to the iconic handbag. It is like holding a piece of fashion history in your hands. The Birkin is also a great investment — even better than stocks or gold since its value is only increasing as the time goes by. Plus you look chic while you’re at it.

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