Is the Birkin Basic?


The Birkin- classic, iconic, legendary. The Kelly- the princess bag, the timeless staple, the seal of sophistication. Both of these Hermes pieces are some of, if not the most, sought after and coveted pieces in the world, fetching the most commanding of prices and offered by boutiques to only a select few from months’ long waitlists. It seems as though everyone wants a Birkin or Kelly…but, why?

Let’s look at one of these pieces at face value- and just examine exactly what we see. A plain, simple bag- no designs, no embellishments. In fact, at face value, the Birkin is a fairly ordinary looking bag, and only those who truly know of Hermes and its products are able to easily identify one; the general public- not as easily so. The same is with the Kelly. Despite this, consumers are willing to drop thousands of dollars without question if offered one of these pieces.

To an ordinary person, and even to those within our community, the Birkin appears very (dare I say it) basic. It is a plain, simple, no nonsense bag- 4 pieces of leather (give or take), hand-stitched (which we can all appreciate, surely), with minimal gold or palladium hardware adorning its front. Meanwhile, there are other bags out there with the most intricate of design, stitching and embroidery, costing far less than one of Hermes’ classics, that seemingly appear to come and go without so much as a word. Why, then, do people go gaga over a Birkin?!

The concept of exclusivity, scarcity, the history behind it and knowing how rare these bags are to come by, are some of the driving forces behind the desire to embark on the Hermes journey, but let’s forget about all of that because, really, should this even truly matter? Shouldn’t we all simply buy a bag we wholeheartedly love- regardless of how rare or exclusive it is? After all, hard earned money should go towards what the heart truly desires, and not towards the perceived level of appropriateness of a bag to mark an occasion or represent an accomplishment, shouldn’t it? And yet, there are those out there who can very well afford a Birkin or Kelly, but simply don’t like it enough to invest in one

The question is, does the allure of a Kelly or Birkin stem from what it symbolizes- success, wealth, luxury, exclusivity, as opposed to what it really, materially is?

Are we buying Birkins because of what they look like, or because of what they represent?..

What do you think?
Can exclusive still be basic? Is simplicity too simple?

Photo Courtesy: Christian Dior, Dolce & Gabbana, Vendome Monte Carlo, Essence, Pursebop