The Hermès Birkin made an entry into the Indian popular imagination thanks to a rather well dressed Pakistani Foreign Minister, Hina Rabbani Khar. Keeping aside the political incorrectness or otherwise of a politician carrying an obviously expensive handbag, she got the Delhi circuit buzzing. It was after all worth over INR 5,00,000.
Of course, if you enter any lunch or dinner attended by well-heeled South Asian ladies in Delhi, Mumbai or London – you will see several Birkins in attendance. Bollywood parties and art get-togethers, you see it pretty much everywhere! This would lead you to believe that the bag is easily available.
You would be mistaken.
Normally, if you wished to buy a bag or a car or even a house for that matter – it would be a matter of identifying what kind and then walking into the shop and asking for it. In the case of the elusive Hermès Birkin Bag, this approach simply does not work.
The first question would be – why is there such a demand? It’s a simple matter of creating scarcity. Hermès has mastered the art of engineering it. They believe that if the client can’t have something – she wants it even more!
Put aside the obvious sanity check – why would someone spend so much on a handbag. Let’s get into the mind space of Ms X who has decided she simply must own one. After all, she may have hit the jackpot, won the lottery or there could be a large bonus sitting in her bank account. Can she go up to the store and pick one up? Most emphatically, no!
The company line is either you put your name on a (long) waiting list and then twiddle your thumbs for a year. Or you just *happen* to get lucky – i.e. you walk into a store and they have one mythically waiting for you (this happened to me once, in Vegas, once – it almost felt like winning the lottery!)
The truth of the matter is if you really, really want a Birkin – all roads lead to Paris.
You have the highest probability of scoring one in their Rue St Honore boutique. You go into the store, do a bit of light shopping – maybe a belt or a bracelet – I never said this adventure would be inexpensive. Then as you are about to pay casually ask the assistant – “Have any Birkins come in today?” Don’t ever make the mistake of walking up cold and asking straight up if you can buy a Birkin because you will most likely be fobbed off with genteel sarcasm.
Disclaimer: It is not a sure-shot method but it does increase your chances – and obviously the more ‘pre-shopping’ you do – the higher the possibility that your request will be answered positively…
If you can’t make it to Paris and you happen to have a Hermès store in your city then start visiting the boutique often. Figure out which assistants deal with handbags and get friendly with them. Pick one assistant and buy small bits and bobs from that person over time (they have a sales quota to meet so they will appreciate your interest).
It is Hermès and NOTHING comes cheap. But all this will add up and when you make your interest in the Birkin known – there is a much higher chance you will get one if someone does not show up to pick up their pre-ordered bag.
Hermès shops in smaller European cities are also a good bet. A friend recently got a gorgeous, tan one from Marbella. So if you happen to travel – make a pit stop and ask.
If you are friends with someone who owns a Birkin (or two) – find out where she got hers and how likely is she to introduce you to her dealer a.k.a shop assistant. If she’s a good friend – she will. This process isn’t an easy one, obviously.
Procuring a Birkin is not really rocket science – its simply a matter of understanding the system – once you have one, the next one is a bit easier.
If you are swimming in loads of spare cash and desperately need one then give my friends at Quintessentially Gifts a call. They sell genuine ones at rather inflated prices – but you do cut the line – I have never bought one from them, but desperate situations call for desperate methods.
As a company, Hermès is synonymous with all things luxe. While you’re paying for the name, you’re also paying for the unmatched quality. At Les Ateliers Hermès in France, each piece is hand-crafted by talented craftsmen. You’re also paying for the quality of leather that doesn’t get spoilt easily. Alligator leather, box calf, ostrich leather, and Togo leather is what is mostly used for Hermès products. Togo is mostly used for Birkins and the best part about it is that once damaged, it can be refurbished so you have a brand new bag all over again.
According to Forbes, a carefully used bag will typically fetch you between 80% to 120% of what you paid for it. To put it in context, a bag of a lesser brand in the same mint condition can be resold only for about 10% of what the previous owner paid. So if you can afford the price of Birkin bag, you’re actually making a great investment, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Beware of online dealers and eBay sites purporting to sell the real thing. Some of them may be kosher but with so much money at stake, it’s not really worth the risk. You must also know that it is one of the most commonly duplicated bags so you must verify the seller before making an online purchase. If you’re physically buying the product from a private seller, do check the Hermès Birkin bag’s leather, stitching, Made in France stamp, hardware and markings. Also, never leave without a receipt.
So are you ready to begin your hunt for the bag of your dreams?
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