The Birkin Delusion

This Hermes Birkin bag is available at 1st dibs for $85,000. Can we figure out why?

You could get this pink one for only $65,ooo.   That’s a whopping savings of $20,ooo. But maybe you’d feel like a cheapskate if you bought the pink one.   Why quibble about $20,000 when you’re shopping at this level? Grey Himalayan Crocodile says you really care. It says “Classy!”

But!

You could have this blue one for only $12,500! With your savings, you could buy a luxury car or feed all the orphans in Haiti. But now the blue one looks like crap, right? Who wants a crap Birkin bag?

I’d love to hear women justifying the purchase of a Birkin bag, or any bag that telegraphs wealth. “It’s so iconic!” “It’s an investment!” “I’ve always wanted one!”

The only honest explanation is that some consumer goods signify status to other consumers. Other women will admire and envy your wealth, or so you think.

How much of an asshole do you have to be to buy one of these stupid bags?!? It’s almost unfathomable. The only people who would be impressed would be other assholes. If Louis Vuitton made bags that didn’t look like Louis Vuitton bags, would anyone buy them?

From now on, when you see someone wearing anything with a big, high-end logo, point at them and laugh, “HAHAHA, Chanel!” (or Prada, YSL, Dior, whatever.)

Sister Wolf Says:   Even a tiny act of subversiveness can brighten your day.

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76 Responses to The Birkin Delusion

  1. Nausicaa says:

    ^yeah, makes me wonder what they plan to do with it- they’re following in Chanel’s footsteps by having temporary tats, now I’m speculating about whether they’ll copy that Gucci ad from 2003 or some year like that where Carmen Kass’s pubic hair was waxed into a G shape (will the LV version involve just slapping a “tattoo” on a model’s bare pubes?)

  2. Nausicaa says:

    And thank you for the link- I had a really good laugh. Are there people stupid enough to buy this crap?

  3. Suspended says:

    Nausicaa – “Bare pubes”

    Please explain?

  4. Nausicaa says:

    Might this help? http://www.vogue.co.uk/news/daily/2003-02/030227-toms-pubic-ad-avoids-ban.aspx (I was referring to it more in the context of LV being so logo-mad it seems they’ll brand anything)

  5. Nausicaa says:

    And here’s the image itself (NSFW): http://adland.tv/n1rv4n4g8/poster/gucci.png

  6. Dru says:

    For a lot less money (but still a lot of money), I’d probably get an Ally Capellino bag. They’re beautiful, have lovely leather and no stupid hardware, and they’re never “It” bags, and they last for YEARS (my mum got one as a present once, she used it for about fifteen years and still refuses to part with it).

  7. Angie says:

    I wonder what Jane Birkin would make of all the fuss over this bag

  8. Cricket9 says:

    Jane Birkin says that she “designed” the bag on a plane trip sitting next to some Hermes executive, explaining what she’s looking for and can’t find. She also says that she did not see a penny from her design.

  9. carmencatalina says:

    I don’t know. On the one hand, there is no way I would ever spend $85,000 on a handbag. On the other hand, right across from my computer sits a bag I paid over $1000 for. I use it every day, I love it, but really, to someone who normally would pay maybe $100 for a bag, isn’t my purchase just as ridiculous at the $85,000 Birkin is to me?

    And isn’t the $100 bag rather ridiculous to someone happy with a nice $10 purchase?

  10. I don’t get wearing big, gaudy labels that advertise how much you spent on your clothes/bags/shoes/whatever. I mean, I can understand paying more for an item because it’s higher quality, but I don’t understand tacking tens of thousands of dollars onto a pricetag just for a name.

    I was also brought up that while it isn’t tacky to enjoy your wealth, it is tacky to display it, especially through the use of labels. If I ever actually have any wealth, I hope it won’t cause my brain to malfunction the way some people’s seem to when they have too much money, and I’ll keep that in mind.

  11. a says:

    Carmencatalina good point.all is relative. There are wealthy pricks for who 80k is nothing.

  12. Aja says:

    I’m with you Raisin Girl, shameless displays of wealth are pretty tacky. And whoever said Victoria Beckham has this bag in fifty different colors hit the nail right on the head. I’ll never forget a picture of her wearing a Roland Mouret hot pink dress while sporting a matching hot pink Birkin at one of her husband’s soccer games. She was so terribly overdressed, god bless her.

  13. Dru says:

    PS: Birkin bags have insane resale value, there’s apparently a non-reptilian one going for 77 grand on ebay. Is this what they mean by ‘investment’ in fashion?

    I still wouldn’t buy one though. They’re fixed in my mind as being for rich old ladies (whom I don’t mind) or idiots who think Sex and the City is a fashion bible in TV show form.

  14. HypeSwipe says:

    http://www.high-replica-handbags.com/nbags-hermes-birkin-handbags-c-46_53.html

    Hype at it’s best. I agree, what is the point of a Birkin?

  15. HelOnWheels says:

    Nobody whose style I admire has every carried a Birkin bag. They’re awful. So are the LV bags. Absolutely hideous. I must confess to loving a lot of the Viv Westwood bags. I could buy about 170 beautiful VW bags for the price of one ugly Birkin. The amount of good that could be done with the money that even a “regular” Birkin costs makes me want to pummel everybody that carries these exorbitantly priced bags. Perfect examples of what is wrong with the world today.

  16. Alicia says:

    Sis, I JUST finished reading Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster and it’s a) the only reason why I know why these bags cost so damn much and b) it illustrates your larger point very well. If you’d like to read it, I’ll bring it over.

    Anyway, Hermes uses individual artisans to make their bags by hand from start to finish. The only thing machine stitched is the inside pocket/zipper. They are extremely selective about the alligator and croc skins they use and the clasps are gold or gold inlaid with diamonds.

    Now, I can’t justify any “regla” person buying one of these, but for someone who has no idea about what a recession is, why the hell not.

  17. Alicia says:

    Punctuation fail…pretend that last period is a question mark…please and thank you.

  18. oops says:

    @Angie – Birkin no longer carries the Birkin because it is too big/heavy – http://www.vogue.co.uk/news/daily/2006-09/060905-the-birkin-rules.aspx

  19. WCGB says:

    I’m in Vancouver, B.C. at the moment. Today I saw a woman with a Louis Vuitton bag in the shape of an attache case. She stood on the street, chatting with a man, smoking a cigarette. I took photo, a close-up of her feet. Her platform sandals achieved instant tragedy due to the escaping baby toe on her right foot.

    Re: Keeping the mind out of despair – I recommend Helen Fielding’s Cause Celeb. I found it at a thrift store and I’ve been laughing ever since.

  20. myra says:

    @dust A bit of older news: Hermes has a monopoly on many tanneries so they set the prices for other fashion houses getting tanned hides (which drives up the price of exotic leather goods for the consumer). At the same time, there is a disconnect when it comes to paying the farmers as they aren’t adequately compensated for the hides they produce: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/30/us/30gator.html

    Perhaps it’s because I’m younger (23) that I can say this, but I’ve always admired Birkins… for the status more than anything and for the significance of what it would mean to my life if I ever actually owned one (i.e. a comfortable life, income disposable enough to blow 12k+ on a single bag, etc). I have a sneaking suspicion that if it ever came down to dropping the cash for one, my priorities would be different and I wouldn’t be able to let myself do it.

  21. Aja says:

    WCGB book jinx!! I am totally reading Cause Celeb right now too, I kid you not. A friend who once worked for various NGOs in the eastern regions of Africa suggested it.

  22. ntokyot says:

    seriously i really fell in love with your blog, love it!

  23. mlk says:

    I HAVE 6 BIRKINS AND HAVE A SEVENTH COMING! I GIVE 40% OF MY INCOME TO CHARTIES. I WILL HAPPILY FORK OVER THE MONEY THAT I WORK HARD FOR TO BUY A BIRKIN BECUASE I LOVE THE BAG. MOST PEOPLE HAVE NO CLUE WHAT A BIRKIN IS AND HOW MUCH IT COSTS. AFTER READING THIS BLOG I WILL NOW CARRY MY BIRKIN WITH EVEN MORE PRIDE KNOWING THAT I AM PISSING OF SOME LIBERALS WHO ARE CLUELESS ABOUT OTHERS!!! YOU ALL HAVE NO RIGHT TO DETERMINE/JUDGE HOW OTHERS SHOULD SPEND THIER MONEY! HERE’S A TIP– GET YOUR BIRKIN PRICES FROM HERMES NOT EBAY!! YOU ARE GROSSLY OVER ESTIMATING THE COST OF A BIRKIN!!!

  24. Erin says:

    Everyone has the right to spend his or her money on whatever they want or need. I know that if I were fabulously wealthy I would never be into the status symbols. Never have (except for Calvin Klein jeans). I would always think how many hungry people could be fed with one purse.

  25. Nybluedog says:

    I came from a poor background and was absolutely hardworking at my job and extremely frugal. I saved 70 percent of my 24k a year income in my early twenties to be able to afford my own home by age 23. It’s only after I bought my own home and getting better at my career that I even looked at luxury goods. Then I could only afford a LV bag that cost a few hundred dollars. I liked the service at the LV store. Then I liked logo bags because it shows everyone that I can own LV. Ten years later, when I have arrived at the pinnacle of my career and now have multi million dollar assets and where I donate generously to charities every year and can appreciate finer things in life, I did away with all the logo bags and settled for hermes and their understated opulence. It’s just too bad the Birkin is so recognized. I think it’s absolutely fine to pay so much for a bag that appreciates in value over time (investment piece) and that hermes pays it’s craftsmen in France good wages and these craftsmen actually get to own their own birkins (shooting star birkins) too. If you own a brikin you will know what I mean. I came from your type of background so I can understand where you are coming from but can you try to understand where I am coming from?

  26. IH82Cook says:

    Well, here it is 2015 and it’s the Birkin Bag in the news again. The book “Primates of Park Avenue” is out and glamorizing the life and styles of filthy rich woman in New York city. Nauseating.

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