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  • Aanchal Sanghavi

The Birkin Bag: An Iconic Piece of Fashion History

Who could have imagined that one of the most coveted objects of recent decades would be born in the sky, in 1984, on a flight from Paris to London? British actress Jane Birkin, sitting next to Jean-Louis Dumas, Executive Chairman of Hermès at the time was complaining that she couldn't find a bag suitable for her needs as a young mother. Being an international star, Jane couldn't carry around a hefty baby bag.She wanted a chic and fashionable handbag that could fit all her needs without seeming ‘too much’. Today The Hermès Birkin bag is a symbol of luxury and exclusivity in the world of fashion. Top celebrities such as Victoria Beckham, Kim Kardashian, Kate Moss, and Jennifer Lopez are just a small sampling of women who have added the Hermès handbag to their collections. Beckham is rumored to have a collection of Birkins worth over two million dollars, and has been pictured with quite an assortment of the Hermès bag over the years. Meanwhile, Kim Kardashian has been seen wearing a hand painted Birkin bag by artist George Condo that is considered a priceless work of art. Moss is frequently seen out with her white Birkin bag with palladium hardware, which she wears with the flap and lock closure open for a casual off duty look. Although it was first sold for a price of 2000 dollars, today the prices for a Birkin bag range from 10,000 usd to a whopping 2 million dollars. To actually get your hands on a Birkin, one must spend around 50,000 - 60,000 usd to get offered to buy a Birkin that is not even of their choice. In today's fashion industry, the Birkin is a sign of power, wealth and status.


However, a crucial question that one must ask is, why does a mere bag have such a hefty price? Although Birkins are said to be made with the highest quality of leather, is paying a minimum of 10,000 dollars considered understandable? From my point of view, this is a rhetorical question which cannot be answered by one person. One of the main reasons why a Birkin is so highly valued is because each bag is handcrafted and takes long hours to sew together. In my opinion another reason may be the secrecy, scarcity and limited availability of them.


The Birkin bag, beyond leather and stitches, represents humanity's age-old quest for distinction and meaning. In a transient world, we clutch at symbols of enduring value, seeking validation through materiality, yet challenging us to ponder: Does owning rarity truly satiate our soul's deeper yearnings?



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