The Mighty, Birkin
Harper's BAZAAR Singapore|April 2021
How the Hermès carry all with stood trends and weathered seasons to become an indelible part of culture
Leah Chernikoff

Suzanne Koller, the influential Paris based stylist, waited two years to get it. Fashion directors of magazines who have access to designer bags as soon as they exit the runway? For an Hermès Birkin bag, they wait too.

“I always wanted one,” Koller says. But it wasn’t until her late 20s that she “finally felt grownâ€up enough” for a Birkin, which can cost upward of US$15,000 (about S$20,150). “I had never bought anything that expensive before,” she explains, admitting that she was nervous about the price but figured she could save for it while waiting the two years it would take to fulfill her custom order: Dark navy leather with gold hardware.

That was around two decades ago. “For me, the Birkin bag was the ultimate luxury item and I knew I would never get bored of it,” Koller says. “I convinced myself that I really needed one and thought I would eventually pass it on to my daughter.”

The Birkin—a simple, structured rectangular leather carryall with a flap closure and saddle stitching—has become a part of culture. It has maintained an ineffable hold over an increasingly broad range of consumers who are taken by its timeless and trendâ€resistant style, elusive reputation, and strong, longâ€term investment value. It’s just as likely that a Birkin would be tucked into the crook of a Parisian fashion stylist’s arm as it would be carried by a celebrity or pop star on a paparazzi walk, or stacked alongside other Birkins on display in closets designed and lit specifically for showing off on social media. Kris Jenner’s collection of Birkins is housed in a dedicated Birkin closet accompanied by a neon sign that reads “Need money for Birkin”.

“When we create a bag, it has to last,” says Catherine Fulconis, the Managing Director of the leather goods–saddlery métier at Hermès since 2015. “We would like [for it to still be desirable in 20, 30, 40 years].”

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