Jane Birkin: The Timeless Legacy of the Hermes Birkin Bag


| LAST UPDATE 07/18/2023

By Alyssa Williams
Jane Birkin fashion Hermes
REPORTERS ASSOCIES / Contributor via Getty x via Getty Images

We're looking into the story of the ultimate "It Bag" — the Hermes Birkin, a fashion legend born from an accidental meeting between Jane Birkin and a Hermes executive on a plane.

In today's world, the term 'fashion icon' is thrown around like confetti. But Jane Birkin? She was the real deal. This French actress and singer, recently passed at 76, was the trendsetter behind popular looks like white shirts and jeans. She left us with a legacy that goes beyond her iconic wardrobe. Enter: the Hermes Birkin bag. Not many can claim the fame of inspiring a handbag design (though Grace Kelly, Princess Diana, Selena Gomez, and Alexa Chung are among the lucky few). But none of these bags can rival the popularity, desirability, and — hold your breath — price tag of the Birkin. How pricey, you ask? Think the cost of a house! In 2019, a ten-year-old, matte white crocodile Himalaya Birkin bag sold for a whopping £162,500 at Christie's auction. And in 2020, another one set a new world record by selling for £231,000. Talk about the 'Holy Grail' of handbags!

Jennifer Lopez Hermes Birkin
Bellocqimages/Bauer-Griffin / Contributor via Getty Images
Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Hermes, the brand behind the Birkin, has been a pinnacle of luxury since its founding in Paris in 1837. It started as a harness-maker for horses, but now produces everything from handbags to clothing, jewellery, and homeware. And let's not forget about those coveted silk scarves! Today, the entry-level Hermes bag costs £2,690, while a Birkin ranges from £9,000 to £150,000. And don't expect a sale — Hermes doesn't do discounts. Still, the brand has a long list of celebrity fans, including Victoria Beckham, Julia Roberts, Jennifer Lopez, and the entire Kardashian-Jenner clan. The Birkin's story began in 1980 when Jane Birkin found herself seated next to Jean-Louis Dumas, the then-CEO of Hermes, on a flight. After her bag's contents spilled out, she told Dumas about her struggle to find a good leather weekend bag. The rest, as they say, is history.

Since its launch in 1984, the Birkin has been in high demand — so much so that there's always a waiting list. Buyers can expect to wait years before getting their hands on one. But it's worth the wait. The Birkin's value continues to increase over time, making it a sound investment. Built to last, the Birkin is the antithesis of fast fashion. It takes time to make and even longer to purchase, but once it's yours, it's a treasure to be enjoyed forever. As a handbag, the Birkin is unmatched. As a legacy, it's a fitting tribute to Jane, its forever stylish namesake, immortalised in leather for generations to come.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below