"Hermès is Democratic" Says Its Artistic Director


“Democratic” probably is not the first thing you think of when you consider Hermès Paris or when you venture into a boutique for the first (or thousandth) time. The Uber-luxury purveyor of equestrian-rooted items that also produces the world’s ultimate holy grail bag -the Birkin – makes it quite difficult to obtain these prized possessions.

Lest you suspect it’s a pandemic-related problem, it’s not. Hermès’s Birkin bag and sister Kelly (among others) always have been difficult to obtain. But, yes, the situation does seem worse now.

So what did Nadège Vanhée-Cybulski, artistic director of Hermès’s womenswear, mean when she said that in an interview with Harper’s Bazaar. Let’s look at the full quote:

“It’s strange to say that Hermès is ‘democratic,’ but I really believe it is.” Strange because, for most people, Hermès is prohibitively expensive; the cost of the ready-to-wear is typically in the thousands of dollars, while a Birkin or Kelly will run in the five figures. She clarifies: “Good taste is for everybody. You can say, ‘Okay, I’m buying this piece, and it’s a piece that is going to last.’ If you divide it by the years that it lasts, it’s actually a very good rate. But you also have things that are maybe more accessible: the bracelets, the makeup, the scarf.”

Interesting, right? Essentially she’s saying the Birkin is worth it because not only does it last (and we add, remains stylish and popular) but the cost per year makes it a good value. In other words, the cost per wear justifies the expense.

Although we often consider cost per wear, when it comes to Hermès we more likely look at retained value. Or what can I get should I decide to rehome this item?

What do you think? Will you be calculating the cost per year/wear on your Birkin or Kelly?