The Hermès Birkin: where to buy one, how much it will cost you and why the bags are so hard to find – and still so popular

What to know before you buy a Birkin bag

The origin of the Birkin bag

Though the process of buying a Birkin bag isn’t necessarily common knowledge, the history of the style is one that Hermès shares freely on its website. As the story goes, the idea for the bag came out of a conversation between famed actress and style icon Jane Birkin and the then executive chairman of Hermès, Jean-Louis Dumas, during an Air France flight in 1984. Birkin said she couldn’t find a bag that suited her life as a young mother at the time. According to fashion history, Dumas went on to sketch a style influenced in part by the brand’s Kelly bag (named after actress and Princess of Monaco Grace Kelly) and the suitcase used by Birkin’s partner, Serge Gainsbourg. Soon the Birkin bag, a rectangular design, was born, named for its inspiration and complete with pockets that could be used to hold a baby’s bottle, among other necessities.

Why you can’t purchase a Birkin bag from an Hermès store

“The process of buying an Hermès Birkin bag on the primary market is shrouded in mystery to keep the allure of exclusivity,” says Gorra. For this reason, you may not have much luck buying a Birkin bag at your closest Hermès boutique. It’s here where you can put your name on a waiting list for the bag, but there’s no guarantee when you’ll be taking one home.

“Hermès tightly controls inventory and keeps the retail price of a Birkin secret, while having periodic price increases. Simply walking into an Hermès store isn’t enough because they give regular clients priority.”

How much does a Birkin bag cost?

The price range of a Birkin bag is quite massive. While many styles can be found on the resale market for between US$12,000 and US$18,000, the rarest styles have gone for hundreds of thousands of dollars, including one diamond-encrusted design priced at US$2 million. Rebag, too, has sold some stand-out styles.

“We’ve had an Hermès White Crocodile Himalayan Birkin for US$70,000 in the past,” says Gorra, sharing more on the site’s pricing system. “The Rebag price depends on the quality of the bag, material, the supply, demand, and price on the primary market. For instance, minis tend to be more expensive because they are harder to find.”

The website also uses a proprietary appraisal system called Clair (Comprehensive Luxury Appraisal Index for Resale) to determine resale prices based on past data of the luxury market.

What else should you consider before buying a Birkin bag?

Keep in mind that, though an Hermès Birkin isn’t a typical luxury purchase, it’s one that doesn’t begin decreasing in value from the moment you have it in your arms. After all, Hermès is what Gorra calls a “unicorn” label.

“[It] means that it is a worthwhile investment that retains most of its retail value, so customers can be assured that if they ever want to sell their Birkin, it will be purchased for close to what they initially bought it for.” According to the 2021 Clair Report, Hermès products retain an average of 90 per cent of their retail value.

It’s also worth taking time to familiarise yourself with specific details of the Hermès bag that can make the buying process a little more comfortable, such as recognising and reading the blind stamps on the Birkin bag to better track each one’s origin.

“Customers can also track the price of the particular Birkin bags they have their eye on with Clair,” says Gorra. This will allow consumers to stay within a specific budget and make an informed purchase.

It’s also worthwhile to directly contact sellers or resale sites to take advantage of their internal expertise and services that can help clear up any questions you may have – about authentication, condition, provenance, and even stylist recommendations – before submitting your payment.

Where to find Birkin bags in stock?

If you’re ready to put all this information into practice, you can begin by shopping at your favourite luxury vintage store, where you’ll find styles that have been thoroughly vetted for authentication.