People often search terms such as, "Affordable designer bags", "designer bags under £500" or "designer bags under £1000" and even, "inexpensive Hermès bags". While terms like affordable and inexpensive are relative, can you get a designer bag for less than £500? Probably not a top tier designer, but perhaps a Coach or Tory Burch bag. These searches lead us to believe that many more people want to own or access designer bags but are worried about the investment, even with the most coveted, Hermès Birkin bags.
So this brings up a question, Why are Hermès Birkin bags so expensive? And yes this is a popular searched term as well. Logic must say that scarcity must play a role, however, if you look for pre-loved or pre-owned Hermès bags, there seems to be quite the choice. So the scarcity relates to the new Hermès purchased from Hermès, because there is a waiting list and typically these only go to their "best" customers. You can find a good number of BNIB, translated to mean "Brand New in Box" and as long as they are authenticated by a reputable site or auction house, they are for all intents and purposes new or never worn.Obviously there are customers of Hermes, who buy them, then sell them on the secondary market, usually at a higher price.
- Hermès Birkin bags are the most expensive bags in the world, ranging from $40,000 to $500,000 for a single bag.
- Named after actress and singer Jane Birkin, the iconic bag is handcrafted and strictly exclusive, which drives the value of the Birkin year after year.
- A 2017 study revealed that the value of Hermès Birkin bags has increased 500% in the last 35 years, an increase of 14% per year.
Let's look at all the factors that contribute to the pricing of Hermès Birkin bags.
Hermès is an expert in exclusivity. With the world clamouring for Birkins, you’d forgive the brand for ramping up production. Instead, the fashion house barely scratches the surface, producing approximately 12,000 Birkin bags a year. Not only that, but Hermès boutiques are notoriously picky with their clientele. Birkin bags cannot be simply bought off the shelf — instead, they are privately offered to customers who have built up a considerable relationship with their local sales representative. High demand plus limited supply can only lead to one thing: rising prices.
We should establish: the Birkin is more than just an It-Bag. It’s a work of art. As a fashion house, Hermès prides itself on championing craftsmanship above all else. Hermès’ belief is ‘one craftsman, one bag’, and as such each Birkin is made by a single artisan from start to finish in one of their dedicated ateliers, a process which takes approximately 40 hours in total. This includes examining and cutting the leather pieces, carefully hand-stitching them together, and placing the HARDWARE using a technique called ‘pearling’.EVERY STITCH IS ACCURATELY APPLIED BY HAND. ONLY THE BEST OF THE BEST LEATHERS ARE USED, with each skin carefully matched by the artisan to ensure a harmonious finish. And if you ever send your Birkin to Hermès for repair, it will be delivered straight back into the arms of its original creator.
For a global luxury brand, this is an unusually personal approach — artisans have even been known to be able to recognise their handiwork in store. By actively rejecting the use of a factory production line, and the resulting economies of scale of such an approach, the cost of producing a Birkin is unavoidably high.
Hermès spares no expense creating the finest quality handbag, even for the "cheapest" Birkin bag. They work with only the most exceptional luxury leathers, prized for their durability, scratch resistance, and supple, buttery feel. Hermès also works with gorgeous exotic skins like crocodile, ostrich, and alligator. While some of the best design houses in the world also use these leathers, Hermès gets the first claim, selecting the finest for the Birkin. It is estimated that only the very best 10 percent of these luxury leathers are chosen to be made into Hermès bags, and only the best of the best become Birkin bags, which of course, is part of a Birkin bag's cost.
A Birkin bag’s hardware is plated gold or palladium, a lustrous, silvery-white metal more precious than platinum. Both metals resist tarnishing, contributing glamour to the bags they adorn.
These exceptional leathers and metals are wielded by craftspeople who have dedicated years to the Hermès design house before ever being entrusted with a Birkin bag. Each Birkin takes trained artisans at least 18 hours to produce and every Birkin is stamped with a code that identifies its year of creation, the workshop in which it was made, and the artisan who made it.
Hermès handbags are considered collectables due to their rarity and popularity. Collectors immerse themselves in the Hermès “language” and have an almost encyclopaedic knowledge of the leathers, the exotic skins, the colours and the limited edition handbags, such as the Faubourg Birkin.
5. Status Symbol
Since its release, the Birkin has been seen on the arm — and in the vast walk-in closets — of many an A-lister. Committed collectors include Victoria Beckham, Kylie Jenner, Kim Kardashian West, Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez and even Drake, who told reporters he was building a Birkin collection for his future (very lucky) partner. The Birkin has been the subject of an entire plotline in Sex and the City, rapped about by Jay-Z and A$AP Rocky, and used as a canvas by contemporary artists including George Condo, Alec Monopoly and Terence Koh. With this much star power behind it, it’s no wonder the Birkin has continued its stratospheric rise in price and popularity throughout the years.
6. Resale Value
Because of its long lifespan, in recent years the Birkin has increasingly been seen as a safer investment than many traditional commodities. In 2019, fine art gave an overall average return of 5%, while Birkin handbags achieved 13%. This has created a self-perpetuating cycle of growth in the secondary Birkin market, with those wishing to capitalise on investment gains buying up bags and further driving up prices. Where demand is, the auction houses follow: Christie’s launched their first dedicated handbags sale in 2017, and world record prices have been topped almost every year since (broken mostly — you guessed it — by Birkins).
More affordable Hermès Bags
Looking for something more affordable than the Birkin, check out the Kelly bag, which has all of the characteristics of what makes a Birkin so expensive but at a lesser price tag and for many, the Kelly is the It or Hero bag.
Most defining features of the Kelly bag include: a trapezoid shape, a single top handle and a shoulder strap. Funny enough, for these three features is how most people differentiate between the Kelly and the Birkin. Unlike the Kelly, the Birkin bag features no shoulder strap. Actually, when it comes to choosing which bag to go for, the shoulder strap on the Kelly bag is often a deal breaker. Admit it: today, we all love a bit of versatility. The shoulder strap on the Kelly gives us an option to wear the bag hands free. Not only is this feature super convenient, but it’s also great for travel.
Hermès also makes other bags that are more affordable; include the Evelyne, the Garden Party Tote, the Herbag Zip, or the Constance to name a few. There are ways to lower the cost of purchasing the Hermès bag of your dreams.
New vs. Pre-owned
Often you may be able to purchase an Hermès pre-loved, but this does not guarantee a lower price tag, in fact many of these bags appreciate in value and sell on the secondary market for more than they originally sold for. Much of that has to do with quality and scarcity.
Hermès handbags have the highest resale value of all handbag brands, reflecting their scarcity, timeless style and durability. Their value continues to increase. According to the Art Market Research 2021 study, Birkin bags increased 42% in value at auction from 2019 to 2020. The luxury resale market is forecast to grow 10%-15% a year over the next decade, according to McKinsey & Co., so the demand for used Birkins will continue to grow, as will the Birkin bag price.
Hermès stands behind its merchandise whether it is a Birkin from the 1980s or from 2021. The Hermès "Spa" will refurbish a Birkin, giving it a rejuvenated look and making it wearable for decades longer than other luxury handbags.
Regardless if the bag is new or pre-owned, the most affordable way to own the Hermès bag of your dreams is to own a share. The great news about this value proposition, is the bag is kept in pristine condition by our concierge team, ensuring it retains its value for more than one lifetime. In addition, we insure your bag, so you never have to worry if something happens to it while it's with you or another co-owner. The biggest benefit is you pay only 20% of the retail price, plus a 2% sourcing fee.
Hermès Constance 18cm Mini Bag
Recommended Retail £13,950
Our Share Price £3,069
Recommended Retail £20,950
Recommended Retail £4,610
Hermès Birkin 30 cm
Recommended Retail £25,200
Our Share Price £5,544
Hermès Kelly 28 cm
Recommended Retail £27,500
Our Share Price £6,050