Hermès Birkin: Complete Guide And Secrets To Buy One In 2023
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Read our full guide and Hermes Birkin review: including pros and cons, prices, size comparison and more
It’s the bag that needs no introduction. Hermès’ iconic Birkin bag is perhaps the most sought-after purse in the universe. That’s thanks to its sleek design, rareness, and high price tag. Essentially, if you own a Birkin, you’ve made it.
But even though everyone and their mother has heard of the Birkin, how much do you really know? This complete guide walks you through Birkin’s history, its features, and provides pros and cons.
As with many French brands, Hermès started off as a provider of equestrian products, notably saddles and harnesses. Over the years, Hermès moved into other markets such as ready-to-wear, scarves, and jewelry.
Some of its most famous products include the Kelly bag, the Constance bag, the Clic Clac H Bracelet, and of course, the Birkin bag.
Since the early 1990s, Hermès has increased the number (and size) of its workshops, expanded into other métiers (fine jewelry and beauty), and opened École Hermès des Savoir-Faire, a training center for future leatherworkers.
Hermès Birkin History
Like many great inventions, the Birkin bag was the result of a chance encounter. It all started when Franco-British actress Jane Birkin was seated next to Hermès CEO Jean-Louis Dumas on a flight.
Before takeoff, Birkin shoved her wicker basket bag into the overhead compartment, only to have all of her belongings tumble to the floor. In response, Dumas wondered why Birkin didn’t get a bag with pockets.
Birkin replied that she had yet to find one large enough. Never one to sleep on an opportunity, Dumas worked with the actress to design what would become the Birkin bag.
The bag debuted in 1984 but didn’t become popular until a 2001 episode of “Sex and the City” portrayed Samantha pining for the ultra-rare bag.
Since then, Hermès has implemented waiting lists and buying limits to manage the ongoing demand for Birkins.
Hermes Birkin Sellier vs Retourne
The Birkin is a roomy, rectangular top-handle carryall handbag. Two versions are available: the Retourne and the Sellier.
Retourne Birkins have interior stitching, a feature that gives the bags a rounder, more slouchy shape. Selliers, on the other hand, have exterior stitching and a more structured form.
Regardless of the style, Birkins have a burnished flap that clasps with a turn lock closure. They also come with a removable clochette. This tiny pouch contains a lock and keys that can be used to secure the flaps.
Hermès Birkin Sizes
The Birkin comes in seven different sizes: 25, 30, 35, 40, 42, 45, 50. The size name corresponds to the length of the bottom of the bag measured in centimeters. See the table below for the exact dimensions.
|Hermès Style||Dimensions (inches)||Dimensions (centimeters)|
|Birkin 25||10” x 8” x 5”|
Handle drop: 4”
|25 cm x 20 cm x 13 cm|
Handle drop: 10 cm
|Birkin 30||11.5” x 9” x 6”|
Handle drop: 4”
|30 cm x 22 cm x 16 cm|
Handle drop: 10 cm
|Birkin 35||14” x 10” x 7”|
Handle drop: 4”
|35 cm x 25 cm x 18 cm|
Handle drop: 10 cm
|Birkin 40||16” x 12” x 8” |
Handle drop: 4.5”
|40 cm x 30 cm x 21 cm|
Handle drop: 11 cm
|Birkin 42||16.5” x 9.5” x 7”|
Handle drop: 7”
|42 cm x 24 cm x 18 cm|
Handle drop: 18 cm
|Birkin 45||17.7” x 12.2” x 7”|
Handle drop: 4.7”
|45 cm x 31 cm x 18 cm |
Handle drop: 12 cm
|Birkin 50||19” x 17” x 10.5”|
Handle drop: 5”
|50 cm x 45 cm x 27 cm|
Handle drop: 12.7 cm
Which Hermes Birkin Size Should I Get?
You might be wondering what’s the best Birkin size to get. Many people like the smaller sizes, especially the 25 (which makes it even harder to find). However, if you like to carry more with you, we recommend the B30 – see below what can fit inside.
The larger sizes will of course fit much more but because the B does not have a longer shoulder strap, many people find carrying it cumbersome. However, with the rise of big bags it might not be a bad idea to invest in a bigger Birkin that might become more popular in the years to come.
What Fits Inside an Hermès Birkin?
- Birkin 25 – Also known as the Baby Birkin, this mini has become the most popular Birkin size. It fits essentials like your cell phone, wallet, a few makeup products, and keys.
- Birkin 30 – A perfect everyday size, the 30 can hold everything the 25 can, with the addition of items like a sunglasses case, a larger wallet, and extra beauty products.
- Birkin 35 – The original Birkin size, the 35 is a larger tote-sized bag. It can fit your cell phone, large wallet, sunglasses, makeup, a tablet, a book or e-reader, and a scarf or small cardigan.
- Birkin 40 – The 40 is able to fit daily essentials, a laptop, folders, and a notebook, making it large enough to function as a work bag.
- Birkin 42 – A longer and shorter take on the standard Birkin, the 42 can hold a paperback book or e-reader, makeup, keys, a large wallet, and a phone.
- Birkin 45 – The 45 can fit several outfits, plus a vanity case, making it a great option for an overnight or weekend bag.
- Birkin 50 – Like the 45, the 50 is a perfect pick for a weekend bag. You’ll have no trouble fitting several outfits and all of your essentials inside.
The materials used when crafting Birkins often depend on the size of the bag. For instance, Swift leather is a popular choice for the 25 thanks to its smoothness and durability. While perfect for Baby Birkins, Swift isn’t sturdy enough for larger sizes.
Larger sizes most frequently feature sturdy leathers like Epsom, Box Calf, Togo, and Clemence. In addition to leather, many Birkins are made using exotic skins such as crocodile, ostrich, and lizard.
Hermès uses 18 karat gold- or palladium-coated hardware.
There is absolutely no shortage of colors when it comes to Birkin bags. From subtle neutrals like camel, black, and white to creamy pastels, shocking pinks, and dreamy blues, you won’t have any trouble finding the perfect hue.
Hermès Birkin Prices
Hermès is notoriously quiet when it comes to Birkin prices. As a result, we have to rely on other shoppers’ reports in order to give you an estimate. With that disclaimer in mind, here are the most current prices we could find:
- Togo – $10, 400
- Togo – €8,050
- Togo – $11,600
- Togo – €8,900
- Togo – €9,850
Read also: Hermès Bag Prices in 2023. Updated with the latest price increase
Hermes Birkin Outfits & Inspiration
Where to buy an Hermes Birkin bag? How hard is it to buy one?
Let’s not beat around the bush – buying a Birkin is hard and not because of its price tag. We often hear about the “Hermes games” people need to play in order to get a chance to receive a Birkin.
If you’re not familiar with the process, it goes something like this: you need to go to a physical Hermes boutique and develop a relationship with a sales associate. Unfortunately you can’t just go in and ask for a Birkin (and expect to be successful). One usually needs to spend quite a bit of money at their local boutique in order to get on the list to purchase a Birkin bag.
We know – sounds crazy! And it is crazy, you don’t often hear of people trying so hard to BUY an item with their hard earned money. But Hermes has mastered their marketing and it shows.
Unofficially, it’s said that one needs to spend the 3 times the equivalent of a Birkin to be offered one.
So, if you want to buy a Birkin 25 for example, you need to buy other Hermes items of $30,000 USD in value before being able to buy a Birkin.
This is of course, not the official policy of Hermes, and people have been able to purchase bags without this requirement, like Youtuber Je Suis Lou that bought her bag in Mexico.
Alternatively, if you travel to France there’s a lottery system where you can get a handbag appointment and you can be offered a quota bag (Hermes, Kelly or Constance) without a purchase history.
Read also: How To Buy A Hermes Bag Directly On Hermes’ Website
Buying a Birkin Preloved
Hermes makes it so hard to purchase a Birkin bag from the boutique that most people go on the secondary market to purchase theirs. Depending on the condition of the bag, you can purchase a Birkin for $8,000 – $50,000 USD or way more for a very limited edition / exotic skin version.
So yes, the Hermes Birkin can at least double their price on the preloved market. However, if you take into considerations the amount of money you need to spend at Hermes before being able to buy one, it kind of makes sense.
Plus, on the secondary market you can at least easily choose your preferred color, size, hardware and so on.
We recommend that you stick with a reputable source such as Fashionphile, Rebag, 1st Dibs and Farfetch, so you don’t have to worry about the authenticity of your bag.
Birkin or Kelly?
We have a dedicated post debating the Kelly vs the Birkin – but to make a short summary, Kelly is great for those that love a long strap on their bag. In a way, the Kelly is more wearable due to the long strap, however, people do complain on how hard it is to get in and out of a Kelly handbag.
Birkins on the other hand are seen as a bit more relaxed and casual, especially if you keep the top of it open (like most people are). The big disadvantage of the Birkin compared to the Kelly is that the B does not have a long strap so you can only carry it in the crook of your arm or holding it by the handles.
Pros and Cons of the Hermès Birkin
- Spacious, even in smaller sizes
- One of the most prized bags on the planet
- Exceptional materials and craftsmanship
- An investment piece that sometimes sells for more secondhand
- Versatile styling
- Large sizes get heavy quickly
- Expensive and prices keep rising each year
- Short handle drop means it can only be carried by hand or in the crook of the arm
- Fastening the clasp is tricky
- Very limited supply and long waiting times to purchase
Is the Birkin Worth Buying?
If you’re certain that a Birkin is the bag you’ve been looking for, then we encourage you to take the necessary steps to purchase one, whether that means scouring secondhand sites or building a relationship with your local Hermès sales associate.
However, if you’re on the fence, or feel like you’re interested in the Birkin just because it’s an It bag, try not to get swept up in the hype. While the Birkin is a beautiful, timeless bag, it’s not right for everyone. Think about what makes sense for your wardrobe and go from there.
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