Birkin: Why Is It So Coveted? (Part 2)

Welcome to the Part-2 of the Birkin Series!

Part 1 tells you the Birkin story of the actual bag (see the Part 1 here). Part 2 will tell you more about how to get ahold of the Birkin – the ‘safe’ way (nobody wants to be scammed into buying a replica). We pulled this post together, drawing from talking to some of our Hermès die-hards, and of course, our own experience, so we can tell you facts, not myths.

Lifetime Commitment

* image via CPP-Luxury

Once you own a Birkin, Hermès stands by its promise to give you a lifetime service. You can bring in your Birkin to Hermès store to get it repaired (accidents happen, right?), or to get it cleaned. Every Birkin (or most Hermès bags, at least) has a craftsman stamp. This stamp indicates which craftsperson worked on your bag. If any day you need to bring in your bag for repair, they would probably send it to the original craftsman, or to his/her protégé, or to the resident craftsperson in a location nearest you (last time I heard, Hermès Singapore has a craftsman in residence)

 

How to Get One?
There have been myths flying around on the etiquette of getting a Birkin, and I’m not that interested in discussing them in this space. What I am sharing below is based on my own and my closest camaraderie’s experience.

* image via Loire Japan

  1. Go straight to a Hermès boutique known to stock ready-to-purchase Birkins. It used to be the Paris boutiques, but in 2011, I heard people are getting ahold of Birkins at boutiques located in the United States (Las Vegas came up several times). By next year, who knows? My local Hermès SA once said that if you already nail down your hunting location, try to come in the low season – meaning, avoid the Summer. I have yet to test this claim, but I thought I’d throw it out there.
  2. Build a relationship and purchase history with your local Hermès boutique. I find this practice to be inconsistent as well. How often and how much are purchases “required” to actually place an order varies from one to the other, and depends on your own relationship with the store. I have been offered at Hermès Jakarta to place an order for a Birkin, no down payment required, with one big catch: I can’t specify the size, the leather and even the color of the Birkin. The store would call me and ask me to see what is sent from Paris. If I like what I see, I could buy it. If it is not something I’m looking for, then there is no obligation to buy.
  3. Buy from a trusted reseller. I will strongly advise you to research for reputable resellers. Ask for references from people you trust and have made a purchase from this reseller. Scour our forum for testimonials about the different resellers. Be very careful, because to the untrained eye, premium replica Birkin will not be distinctly differentiable to the authentic one.

It’s confusing, I know. I will go out on a limb to say that the easiest way is to get a Birkin is through a reseller. The trick to safe-buying is to find a reseller with long record of trustworthy Hermès selling (see tips above to find one). I should say though, that you will be paying for some kind of a premium over the “official” price. This is likely true if you are purchasing a brand-new-in-box Birkin, especially in popular or new colors (for example, last year Rose Tyrien Birkin commanded a heftier price premium over the more classic colors such as Blue Jean or Black). That being said, I will also say that I have come across good deals on pre-loved Birkins in excellent conditions through these resellers.

 

The Fake Market


* image via iOffer

With all the hype surrounding Birkin, it’s only natural that the replica market is tapping into it. I could testify that I have seen a lot of fake Birkins, from one that is downright ‘wrong’, to the one that is oh-so indistinguishable to the authentic Birkin. Please be aware to guidelines exacting how to tell the fakes vs. the authentic pieces. I have yet to see one set of guidelines that is extensive or 100% conclusive (and I’ve read a lot of guidelines). For example, vintage and older Hermès items do not have the same markings as the newer ones. Even the same leather on the same size of Birkin could slouch or age differently. Discerning the fake from the authentic takes experience and a lot of research, hands-on and off, and it’s really hard to describe in words.

 

The Bottom Line
I will honestly say that this article leaves out a lot of information about the bag. But I hope this series is able shed some light for you. I personally love this bag. I appreciate the history and quality much, much more than the prestige and the vanity of carrying it. But at the end of the day, it always comes down to personal preferences. Birkin is not everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s completely fine. But hey, now you know more on why women are so all over it.