Few pieces in fashion cause more chatter or stronger feelings than the iconic Hermes Birkin. The look, the price, the exclusivity – love it or hate it, the bag is an attention-grabber, not to mention a beautiful piece of handbag lore. The smell coming off of a brand new leather Birkin is nearly intoxicating, and for what people pay for those bags, they probably should get you high. It’s only fair.
That being said, I’ve always had slightly mixed feelings about Hermes’s most famous bag when it comes to whether or not I want to own one myself. And as my therapist always says, it’s good to talk these things out, so join me after the jump for my personal list of pros and cons. To Birkin, or not to Birkin? That is the question.
[Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on June 15, 2011.]
1. The Hermes Birkin is the ultimate handbag. Whether or not you’re a fan of the design, the Birkin has a very special place in the fashion industry that doesn’t appear ready to change any time soon. And handbags are kind of my life at this point (that and Real Housewives, someone pass me a cocktail), so it seems only fitting that I acquire one at some point in the future, right?
2. Birkins come in virtually every leather and color combination imaginable. I’m a big fan of getting exactly what I want as often as possible (and although true, I’m not as insufferable as that makes me sound) and the laundry list of colors, leathers, sizes and hardwares that are available from Hermes appeals to the stickler in me. Forget about waiting until the right season for the right color – if you know who to ask and where to look, you can probably find the Birkin you want right now.
3. A Birkin is neutral, no matter what color it is. Come on, who’s going to question you for carrying Hermes? No one, that’s who. And if someone does, you can just tell yourself that she’s incredibly jealous, which might actually be true. Haters gonna hate, and they’re gonna hate on your bag. But if you spend that much money on something, you have every right to carry it as much or as little as you please. Even if you’re just running to Rite Aid to buy a candy bar and some hand soap.
4. I feel left out. I now live in a neighborhood where it seems like even the homeless people have Birkins and I’m starting to feel entitled to one. Why wasn’t I issued my Birkin upon entering the Upper East Side? Did I slip through a crack of some sort? It was surely a very expensive, well-bred crack, if that’s the case. But now that I’ve figure out that I was overlooked, someone needs to make this up to me. I’m just going to grab the next one that I see. What? That’ll get me arrested? And beaten by the NYPD, in all likelihood? Well then.
5. Take away the name and the prestige, and the Birkin is still a beautiful piece. It wouldn’t command the five-figure price tags if it weren’t. Prestige can get you a lot of places in the fashion industry, but the Birkin wouldn’t have been sustained this long (and Hermes wouldn’t still be growing rapidly year-on-year) if the construction and finishing of the bag weren’t impeccable. Even someone who’s not interested in fashion can look at a Birkin and tell that it’s a special piece. It just has that special aura about it, which is so hard to find in a day and age when nearly every manufacturer has moved to mass production.
1. They cost more than many used cars. As jaded as I am when it comes to prices in the fashion industry, five figures is still quite a strong pill to swallow. With tax, that’s the starting figure for a Birkin big enough to be carried as an everyday bag, and I can think of a lot of other ways to spend ten grand. I’m sure you can too, unless you’re the lucky lady who looks at $10,000 as though it’s pocket change. In that case…would you like to buy me a Birkin?
2. I don’t have much use for bags that sit in the crook of my arm. I already have a Celine Luggage Tote, which I love dearly and carry any time that I feel as though I should look extra fashionable. Other than that, I’m a shoulder bag and crossbody girl, through and through. That’s only been dialed up since I moved to the city and realized that arm-carried bags get heavier and heavier, the further you walk. Birkins are heavy to begin with and only get heavier when filled, so until I’m car-service rich, maybe I should consider an Hermes Jypsiere instead.
3. I’m not really in the Birkin demographic. Although I’ve seen many women my age carrying Birkins and I’m a firm believer that fashion has no age requirement so long as you’re self-confident, I’m not sure that the Birkin really fits my look. I’m more of a slouchy bag person, whereas the Birkin requires a certain sort of buttoned-up sophistication that I’ve yet to adopt. Perhaps if I worked in an office, I’d be ready for a Birkin. Maybe then I’d also have that law degree like my dad always wanted.
4. Everyone has one. Sadly, this con goes hand-in-hand with pro number four. I prefer to be ahead of the curve instead of behind it, and although the Birkin doesn’t really have a curve of which to speak, sometimes I feel as though buying one would be like pledging an exclusive sorority that doesn’t really need or want new members. I only lasted for a month in my actual sorority in college, but thankfully that didn’t cost as much as a Birkin would.
5. I’m a fickle pickle. $10,000 handbags really aren’t a great idea for someone who likes to follow her fashion whims. If I were to spend that much money on a handbag, I would be fresh out of whims for at least a year and probably resent my bag for killing all of my other options.
To me, I think the clear answer is that I don’t need a Birkin for a very, very long time. What about you – could you ever see yourself buying one? Already have a dozen in the closet? Let us know in the comments.
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