THE MIGHTY, MIGHTY BIRKIN
Harper's Bazaar India|March 2021
How the Hermès carryall withstood trends and weathered seasons to become an indelible part of the culture.
LEAH CHERNIKOFF

Suzanne Koller, the influential Paris-based stylist, waited two years to get it. The current fashion director of M Le Magazine du Monde, who has also served as Fashion Director of Vogue Paris and co-founded the biannual cult magazine Self Service, surely has access to designer bags as soon as they exit the runway. But for an Hermès Birkin bag, she waited.

“I always wanted one,” Koller says. But it wasn’t until her late 20s that she “finally felt grown-up enough” for a Birkin, which can cost upwards of 10,00,000. “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 the culture. It has maintained an ineffable hold over an increasingly broad range of consumers who are taken by its timeless and trend-resistant style, elusive reputation, and strong, long-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’.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM HARPER'S BAZAAR INDIAView All

STRONGER TOGETHER

For the first time in 15 years, two of the country’s most powerful fashion platforms—Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI) in Delhi and Lakmé Fashion Week (LFW) in Mumbai—joined forces to host one phygital, seasonless edition that was streamed across social media channels. A prudent decision, many stated; one lauded for the collaborative efforts to preserve an industry impacted by the global pandemic. In a special conversation with Bazaar, Sunil Sethi and Jaspreet Chandok share their views on the historic decision and the future of Indian fashion...

7 mins read
Harper's Bazaar India
March 2021

THE SUPERS

They have witnessed an exclusive industry become inclusive. They have dealt with the changing norms of beauty. They have battled countless hurdles to stay at the top of their game. Meet India’s most celebrated supermodels as they connect with their inner beauty, and share their journey of self-love, acceptance, and evolution in the modelling world that is as unforgiving as it is glamorous.

5 mins read
Harper's Bazaar India
March 2021

NATURE LOVERS

In a first, two prominent advocates for the cause of environment protection have a conversation about the urgent actions needed to safeguard our future. Dr Krithi Karanth, Director of Centre for Wildlife Studies, speaks with actor Dia Mirza, champion of environmental rights, about her work and views.

8 mins read
Harper's Bazaar India
March 2021

REBEL WITH A CAUSE

Parliamentarian Mahua Moitra is unapologetic, unafraid, and here to make her voice heard. Bazaar gets to know the woman everybody is talking about...

10+ mins read
Harper's Bazaar India
March 2021

THE MIGHTY, MIGHTY BIRKIN

How the Hermès carryall withstood trends and weathered seasons to become an indelible part of the culture.

5 mins read
Harper's Bazaar India
March 2021

A MOVEABLE FEAST

Follow in the footsteps of Ernest Hemingway in Cuba, visiting the author’s cherished haunts and discovering new culinary delights.

4 mins read
Harper's Bazaar India
March 2021

The Power Of Sisterhood

Mothers, daughters, and sisters...they are the women who shape us and teach us the value of female bonds. In a special Bazaar feature, we speak with four leading families of India, to celebrate the relationship they share.

10 mins read
Harper's Bazaar India
March 2021

Can Women Build A Better World?

With more finances and funds at their disposal, female entrepreneurs help in accelerating social progress. Here is how...

6 mins read
Harper's Bazaar India
March 2021

INDIA ON A PLATE

Celebrity chef Sarah Todd marries classical Indian favours with French techniques in her latest cookbook.

2 mins read
Harper's Bazaar India
March 2021

ENCHANTED FOREST

High couture takes a whimsical journey into the unknown...

1 min read
Harper's Bazaar India
December 2020