Last week, Bloomberg published an interesting look at the enduring popularity of the Hermès Birkin, highlighting the bag’s somewhat unlikely endurance in a fashion landscape besotted with novelty. Over a decade after Sex and the City centered an entire episode around a character’s quest for a Birkin, women are still questing for it all over the globe. How long can that last?
It was barely two weeks ago that we brought you news of yet another record-breaking Hermès auction, this time for a pink crocodile Birkin from Christie’s in Hong Kong. As writer Lauren Sherman notes in the Bloomberg article, Hermès has had great success expanding its appeal into flourishing Asian markets, which have turned their attentions from designer logos to so-called “quiet luxury.”
Sherman also discusses the difficulty that other brands have had competing with Hermès; although more brands than ever are in the French stalwart’s price tier, none of them have been able to create the same kind of sustained interest in the five-figure price range, which is Hermès’ bread and butter. For now, the brand is without peers, and building up the kind of brand story and loyalty required to demand $10,000 for a leather bag is not something that’s done overnight, or even over the course of a few seasons. Even though the Birkin doesn’t appeal to everyone, its throne is safe for now.
The tough thing about luxury, though, is that premier designer brands are always trying to balance the paradox of selling enough product to grow but making every customer feel like he or she is buying something special and rare. In the case of Hermès, that balance is more high-stakes than for any other brand; much of the Birkin’s appeal is in its rarity, and increasing production too much could soften demand.
Do you think the Birkin can stay on top forever, and if not, which brand do you think is likely to knock it out of the handbag world’s top spot?
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