By Angie House
Hermes is an independent, family-owned, France based company that has been passed down for generations since their beginnings in 1922. They began as a high-class equestrian product company making top quality leather riding saddles. It has evolved into what is now currently the biggest fashion brand name in luxury accessories. They cater to an elite high-end clientele; selling high quality leather, ostrich, lizard, and crocodile skin handbags.
Hermes handbags are considered iconic collector items in the world of fashion, with the Birkin bag at the top of many fashion celebrities, entrepreneurs, and socialites list. It is signified as the Holy Grail status symbol of handbags. Beloved by such stars like the Kardashians, Paris Hilton, Jeffree Star, and Victoria Beckham. Jamie Chua, Instagram-famous Southeast Asian Singaporean, owns over 200 Hermes handbags, many of which are custom crafted just for her collection.
Hermes has a few different models and bag sizes, and by far the most popular is the Birkin bag.
The Birkin bag which debuted in 1984, was named after the English actor and singer based in France, Jane Birkin. Jane co-designed the bag with then Hermes Chief Executive, Jean-Louis Dumas whom she met on a flight after having spilt all the contents of her bag on the floor while trying to get it into an overhead bin. She complained that she couldn’t find a properly sized bag to contain all her travel necessitates, and so they spent the length of the flight brainstorming designs to solve that very problem.
Uncompromised quality and extremely limited supply drive up the price tag of a Hermes handbag. They are known to be artisan crafted, with their reputation superseding their ability to meet the demand for their products. Hermes artisans are often trained for two years before they even touch a real bag to send out to market. All of their handbags are hand stitched using a saddle stitch, which is unable to be replicated by a machine. One single bag can take up to 48 working hours to make. Production is very slow, and supplies limited, making this the main reason the bags have such a hefty price tag. For a 30cm bag, prices range from as low as $5000 for the mini size to upwards of $300,000 to half a million.
It is said that Jamie Chua paid close to nearly $300,000 for her 30cm Himalayan Crocodile Birkin bag with white gold detailing and 245 encrusted diamonds.
Coupled with the extremely high-quality, high demand, and low supply, Hermes doesn’t publicise how many bags they produce each year, further making the bag highly coveted.
Hermes is very careful about who they have carrying their brand. They want to have people that are true fans of the label, and not simply take advantage of their social status. The essential difficulty is that you cannot just buy them outright—neither in the store or online. You must either be invited by Hermes directly, or request an appointment for which there is a massive waitlist which can often take up to five years to move to the top of, at which point you are still not guaranteed a bag, never mind the style or colour of your choice if you do manage to get one. Some people resort to purchasing the bag from a resale market, and even then the bag goes through multiple authentication processes.
Needless to say, these bags are tough to get your hands on. This bag is for true collectors.
One good way to check the authenticity of a Hermes is to take it to their handbag spa for a Spring cleaning, as Hermes will not accept counterfeits at a spa day.
The Hermes Birkin is probably one of the best investments you could ever make. Hermes handbags have been compared to the Ferrari, as their retail value appreciates with time. They hold their value extremely well, some say better than gold. If you are lucky enough to purchase a Hermes handbag, you could turn around and sell it the next day to double your profit. It has outperformed both the stock market, and the price of gold over 35 years, from 1980 to 2015, and this trend is predicted to continue.
Even though Hermes handbags are the most unattainable, highly lucrative fashion investments of the last quarter-century, with only the upper echelons of society being able to afford them; it is good to know there is yet another sustainable company out there focused on value and quality, over low-quality mass produced fast fashion.