Why Are Birkin Bags So Expensive? And Worth the Price

Close-up image of Birkin Ostrich in Terre Cuite laying on a couch

The Hermès Birkin bag is the single most highly coveted luxury handbag on the planet. With the Birkin bag price ranging from $8,500 to over $300,000 at the boutique, it’s also the most expensive bag in fashion history. But why are they so expensive, and is the Birkin possibly worth the price? Let's delve into both questions.

Why Are Birkin Bags So Expensive?

There are two primary drivers of the Birkin bag price — quality and demand. 

Quality

Hermès spares no expense creating the finest quality handbag, even for the "cheapest" Birkin bag. They work with only the most exceptional luxury leathers, prized for their durability, scratch resistance, and supple, buttery feel. Hermès also works with gorgeous exotic skins like crocodile, ostrich, and alligator. While some of the best design houses in the world also use these leathers, Hermès gets the first claim, selecting the finest for the Birkin. It is estimated that only the very best 10 percent of these luxury leathers are chosen to be made into Hermès bags, and only the best of the best become Birkin bags, which of course, is part of a Birkin bag's cost.


A Birkin bag’s hardware is plated gold or palladium, a lustrous, silvery-white metal more precious than platinum. Both metals resist tarnishing, contributing glamour to the bags they adorn.


These exceptional leathers and metals are wielded by craftspeople who have dedicated years to the Hermès design house before ever being entrusted with a Birkin bag. Each Birkin takes trained artisans at least 18 hours to produce and every Birkin is stamped with a code that identifies its year of creation, the workshop in which it was made, and the artisan who made it.

Hermès Birkin 30 Himalaya Niloticus Crocodile Diamond Encrusted Hardware

The most expensive Birkin bag is the diamond encrusted Himalaya. It is fashioned from Niloticus crocodile skin that is hand-dyed to resemble the snowy Himalayas. The white gold hardware is inset with diamonds on the pontet, touret, plaque, and lock. With or without the diamonds, the Hermès Himalaya Birkin is a work of art.

Demand

Hermès strictly controls the number of Birkin bags produced, so that demand for these luxurious bags substantially exceeds their availability. The brand has a strict policy for releasing a limited number of bags at a time, which both drives the Birkin bag price and makes purchasing a Birkin directly from an Hermès boutique complex, arduous and extremely expensive.


A Wall Street Journal October 2021 article stated that Hermès will sell approximately 100,000 Hermès Birkins and Kellys in 2021, down from approximately 120,000 prior to the pandemic.  And Axel Dumas, Hermès’ CEO, stated in a CNBC interview in February 2022 that production caps, which limit volume growth in its leather goods production at 6% to 7% is important “to keep the value of craftmanship”.  This gives every indication that demand will continue to exceed supply.


This demand vs supply paradigm makes getting a Birkin or Kelly quite an adventure. One cannot simply walk into an Hermès boutique and purchase a Birkin. It requires becoming a regular customer of a boutique, and building and maintaining a “profile” — a history of purchases from the brand across many of Hermès product categories, such as shoes, scarves, ready to wear, and home goods. Therefore, the listed retail prices of Birkins belie the “all in” price of the bag, which could be double or triple the list price. Amazingly, even after creating a profile of multiple purchases,  you are not guaranteed that you can purchase the Birkin in the size, color, leather or hardware of your choice. 

The lack of supply has also created a global network of independent dealers that have access to authentic boutique-fresh Hermès bags and resell them to customers seeking specific bags that they cannot access from the store, either because they do not have the proper profile, have exceeded their quota, or the bag desired is not available. A reseller, like Madison Avenue Couture, stocks or can procure most any Birkin or Kelly at a premium to list price. Most often, the price charged by these resellers are not much greater than the “all in” price at Hermès after all the extraneous items are factored in.  Plus, many dealers make purchasing so much easier than purchasing at an Hermès boutique.  With Madison Avenue Couture, simply visit its website, select the bag of your dreams, place your order and receive your new Birkin bag within 1- 2 business days. And if the bag of your dreams isn’t in stock, Madison Avenue Couture will find it for you.  


Why is the Birkin Worth the Price?

Only you can decide whether the Birkin bag price tag is worth it to you. But there is ample evidence that the Birkin is a valuable investment, whether purchased from the boutique or from a dealer. Read on to discover your answer to the question, how much is a Birkin bag worth?


Exceptional Investment

Many consider a Birkin bag to be a better investment than gold or the stock market. A study released in 2021 from Art Market Research found that Hermès handbags with a 13% increase were the top investment asset in the fourth quarter of 2020 compared to the prior year.


Strong Resale Market

Hermès handbags have the highest resale value of all handbag brands, reflecting their scarcity, timeless style and durability. Their value continues to increase. According to the Art Market Research 2021 study, Birkin bags increased 42% in value at auction from 2019 to 2020. The luxury resale market is forecast to grow 10%-15% a year over the next decade, according to McKinsey & Co., so the demand for used Birkins will continue to grow, as will the Birkin bag price.  

 

Hermès Sac Faubourg Birkin 20 White Matte Alligator Palladium Hardware

Collectable-Worthy

Hermès handbags are considered collectables due to their rarity and popularity. Collectors immerse themselves in the Hermès “language” and have an almost encyclopedic knowledge of the leathers, the exotic skins, the colors and the limited edition handbags, such as the Faubourg Birkin.  

Cherished Heirlooms

Because they hold their structure, distinctive good looks, and value so well, Birkin bags are cherished heirlooms, passed from mother to daughter. The timeless style ensures your granddaughter will love it as much as you do.


Functional Art

The Hermès' commitment to exceptional quality materials and meticulous old-world craftsmanship has elevated the iconic handbag to genuine art. Hermès excels in tanning and dying of its leathers. This, combined with its hand-stitched production process, elevates Hermès handbags to an art form unmatched by other handbag producers. 


Enduring Status Symbol

Coveted by heads of state, royalty, and celebrities, a Birkin bag conveys instant status. This enduring status symbol shows that not only have you made it — you did so with style.

Everlasting Quality

Hermès stands behind its merchandise whether it is a Birkin from the 1980s or from 2021. The Hermès "Spa" will refurbish a Birkin, giving it a rejuvenated look and making it wearable for decades longer than other luxury handbags. 

GIF of Hermès Himalaya Birkin in SoHo NYC

It's Not a Bag — It's a Birkin!

With these immortal words, the Birkin bag exploded into pop culture by way of Sex and the City. However, the Birkin was immortalized by those with an appreciation of quality long before we learned of Samantha’s quest. Given the value proposition, one can understand why.   


Exceptional quality. Timeless style. An intriguing origin story. Enormous popularity among the fashion elite and extreme scarcity. These forces drive the Birkin bag price along with its value.

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