10 Hermès Birkin Facts Every Designer Fan Should Know

The Hermès Birkin bag is on the wishlist of almost every fashionista and celebrity. You probably know the basics – each Birkin is handmade in France, takes over 40 hours to construct, and has a relatively long and exclusive waitlist. In the words of Samantha Jones on Sex and the City, “For a bag?!”

Basics aside, there’s so much more to this iconic carryall than meets the eye. From its humble beginnings to the actress it’s named after, the Birkin is full of mystery and intrigue.

Designer Hermes Bag

What You Should Know About Birkin Bags

This coveted designer handbag has a story far richer than even its premium price tag.

1. Jean-Louis Dumas sketched the first Birkin on an airsickness bag

The Birkin bag traces its origins to an unlikely source of inspiration. British actress and singer Jane Birkin, for whom the bag was named, captivated Hermès CEO Jean-Louis Dumas during a flight from Paris to London, where they happened to sit together. During their conversation, Ms. Birkin expressed her need for a bag that could fulfill the dual purposes of style and practicality for a busy woman on the go. Ever creative, Mr. Dumas sketched a preliminary design on an airplane sick bag.

While many are familiar with Jane Birkin’s association with the bag, few recognize the ingenious improvisation that sparked the vision for a carryall that has become a global status symbol for the jet set.


2. Hermès paid Jane Birkin an annual royalty for using her name

Jane Birkin was instrumental in the development of Hermès’ legendary Birkin bag. In recognition of her contributions, Hermès saw fit to provide compensation for their continued commercialization of her name. The luxury brand paid her approximately $40,000 a year, which she donated to charities of her choosing.


3. Jane Birkin only owned a few of her namesake bag

While she inspired the renowned handbag line bearing her name, Jane Birkin maintained a more modest collection of only five or six Birkin bags throughout her lifetime. She auctioned one of them in 2014 and donated the funds to Anno’s Africa, a nonprofit offering educational creative arts projects to orphans and vulnerable children in Kenya and Malawi. In 2021, the same Birkin went up for sale again, fetching $162,000 at an auction.


4. Jamie Chua has the biggest Hermès bag collection in the world

Singaporean socialite and online personality Jamie Chua owns more than 200 Hermès bags as of 2023. One of the most expensive Birkin bags in her possession is the rare diamond Himalaya Birkin, which can sell for over $450,000.


5. You can’t walk into an Hermès boutique and expect to leave with a Birkin

Acquiring an Hermès Birkin bag is a process befitting its  status. While formal waiting lists at brick-and-mortar stores have been retired for some time, one cannot simply stroll in and secure a Birkin. Prospective customers must first establish a history of distinguished purchases with Hermès. Cultivating congenial relations with an Hermès sales associate is also necessary, as they may provide advance notice of impending deliveries and contact distinguished clientele when fresh inventory arrives. Regardless, availability remains subject to potential wait times. For example, according to a YouTube vlog by Sierra Furtado, it cost her one Kelly, one Constance, multiple small purchases, and over two years of waiting to receive a Birkin bag offer.


6. There are approximately 200,000 Birkins in circulation

Four decades later, the demand for Birkins is higher and stronger than ever. The brand maintains a strategy of limited annual production to preserve the design’s prestige and value. According to luxury insiders, Hermès manufactures an estimated 12,000 to 70,000 Birkin bags a year, though the exact figures are confidential. A presumed 200,000 Birkin bags are in circulation. This low supply contributes to the bag’s high demand and five- to six-figure resale value in the secondary designer market.


7. You need at least $10,000 to secure a Birkin today

In the 2001 episode of Sex and the City, a sales associate told Samantha that a Birkin bag cost $4,000. Today, a Birkin with a basic design has a price range of $8,500 to $10,000, while more elaborate styles command up to $250,000.


8. Birkins yield higher annual returns than gold

Collectible Birkin bags have historically achieved average annual returns of approximately 14% over the past few decades. This level of return has exceeded the average yearly gains generated by both the S&P 500 index and the market price of gold.

Further reading: Are Hermès Birkin Handbags Good Investments?


9. Birkins are labeled based on size, texture, and color

Hermès names each Birkin bag according to its key attributes. The names provide discerning clients precise details about the handbag’s measurements, materials, and craftsmanship. For instance, an “Hermès 35 Birkin Bag Togo in Black” mirrors the following information:

  • The prefix “Hermès” signifies the brand’s impeccable quality and tradition of excellence.
  • “35” refers to the bag’s length in centimeters, ensuring the carrying dimensions meet the buyer’s needs.
  • “Birkin Bag” denotes the iconic style.
  • “Togo” specifies the type of leather material.
  • “Black” describes the handbag’s color.


10. It was not an overnight success

The Birkin did not achieve mainstream popularity after its launch. According to luxury goods and accessories experts, the Birkin failed to gain significant traction among consumers until the rise of the “It Bag” phenomenon in the 1990s and early 2000s. As the Birkin began appearing more often in the hands of A-list celebrities like Victoria Beckham and the Olsen twins, demand for the line skyrocketed.

Once considered a relatively obscure, niche product for longtime Hermès aficionados, the Birkin was thrust into the spotlight of pop culture references and aspirational luxury. Today, anyone who’s anyone owns one of these bags. The Birkin has also amassed a devoted global following of fans who celebrate its impeccable craftsmanship and cachet as a luxury status symbol.

The next time you spot a Birkin in the streets of Phoenix, AZ, you’ll have some insider knowledge about this highly desirable carryall. And, if you own one of these investment bags, let’s talk resale prices. Find out how to get cash for your Hermès Birkin here.