Many of us first heard of the iconic Hermes Birkin bag on the still-relevant episode of Sex and the City. When PR powerhouse Samantha Jones is so desperate for a Birkin bag, she name drops her client, actor Lucy Lu, in order to get off the Birkin waiting list and has the bag sent to her. Unfortunately, Samantha Jones was caught and ended up sans Birkin, showing the audience just how in-demand the bag was. Even before that memorable episode aired in 2001 (via IMDb), the Birkin was a highly sought after accessory. And it is still hard to buy today!
Let’s start with a little history. The idea of the Birkin bag dates back to 1981 when Jean-Louis Dumas, the then-chief executive of Hermes, got the idea to create a bag that fully closed for jet-setting women with too much to carry. See, chic even from day one of conception. It didn’t hit the market until 1984, but because of Channel’s domination of the luxury accessory market in the ’80s, the Birkin wasn’t considered an “it” bag until the early ’90s (via Fashionista).
But there are plenty of chic and iconic items in the fashion world — what’s making the Birkin bag so unattainable? Firstly, the price is high. So high that even A-list starlets with their A-list bank accounts would let out an audible gasp at the price. A standard Birkin 30 model is known to carry a price tag of $10,000 or more (via Who What Wear).
The bag is all about creating desire
If the price tag doesn’t stand in the way (who are you?), then another hurdle could be the sheer scarcity of availability. Hermes refuses to make public how many Birkin bags they manufacture to sell every year. We just know production is limited. And it’s not like you can walk out of the Hermes store with a Birkin in toe. You have to put your name on a waiting list, and you better make yourself comfortable, because we’ve heard you could stay on that list for years (via Who What Wear).
The huge price tag and scarcity are definitely two factors that make it so difficult to become the owner of a Birkin bag. But we can’t ignore the celebrity influence that has made the in-demand accessory even more sought after by us common folk. Big names like Eva Longoria, Lady Gaga, and Cardi B have all been spotted carrying a Birkin (via Madison Avenue Couture). This is no doubt making their popularity sore, which amounts to an even longer stay on the waiting list.
Hermes CEO says the brand is about “creating desire” (via Vox). Well, the fashion house has certainly succeeded with the Birkin. Owning one may not be in the cards for many of us, but we can’t help but wonder, “Did Samantha Jones ever end up fulfilling her desire of owning a Birkin?”
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