scorecard4 Hermès Birkin collectors cracked the code to getting their hands on the coveted bag
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4 Hermès Birkin collectors cracked the code to getting their hands on the coveted bag

Amanda Krause   

4 Hermès Birkin collectors cracked the code to getting their hands on the coveted bag
Retail8 min read
  • Hermès is having a moment — especially its Birkin and Kelly handbags.
  • Speaking with Business Insider, collectors and experts explained why they love them.

Hermès is having a moment.

Billionaires give Birkins as gifts, and celebrities continue using the brand's bags as status symbols. The Hermès resale market has skyrocketed while the fashion house's stock rose 30% over the past year. But of course, Birkins, Kelly bags, and other Hermès pieces are nothing new.

Thierry Hermès founded his namesake brand in 1837, and around 1950, Robert Dumas — the son-in-law of Thierry's grandson Émile Hermès — transformed the leather goods business into a luxury fashion house. He created the brand's signature silk scarves, Chaîne d'ancre bracelet, and other timeless accessories.

He's also responsible for the Kelly bag, usually priced starting at $9,000, which now sits beside Birkins as the most sought-after purses made by Hermès.

Both styles are famously handmade in limited quantities, with highly coveted versions costing hundreds of thousands of dollars compared to the regular Birkins, which can cost upwards of $10,000.

They're then offered to shoppers seemingly at random. You can't order one from Hermès online, and you're not guaranteed to find one in the brand's boutiques.

However, according to collectors and Hermès experts who spoke to Business Insider, the high prices and exclusivity factor don't really matter. For them, it's all about the shopping experience and the bags' high-quality.

Name: Jasmine Rasco

Age: 31

Her first Birkin: Rasco, a podcaster and content creator, fell in love with Hermès four years ago. She officially started her collection in 2022.

"The bag that I really wanted was priced around $28,000 on the resale market, and I was not ready to spend that kind of money on a Birkin," she said. "So I opted for a secondhand Birkin 35 in a Gris color with gold hardware. It was a little bit older, from around 2016, but still in excellent condition. I paid $15,000."

Current bag count: Rasco's collection has tripled since buying her first bag. She bought her second bag — a Birkin 25 Sellier crafted with Epsom leather and palladium hardware — at the flagship Hermès store in Paris. She also received a Birkin 25 made with rose-gold hardware and Swift leather in the color Rose Azalee for Christmas last year.

Why she loves them: Exclusivity is a big draw for Roscoe.

"It doesn't matter if it's a Birkin, a pair of shoes, or a perfume," she said. "I don't like oversaturated items. So, I'm not going to lie — I love Birkins being exclusive. It feels like a reward to get something that not everyone else has."

Breaking down the Hermès myth: Rasco believes you don't have to be a lifelong customer or spend tens of thousands at Hermès stores to be offered a Birkin or Kelly bag.

"When I was in Paris, we did not spend a lot of money," she said. "I bought a scarf, a pair of shoes — Oran Sandals — matching his-and-her leather bracelets, and some Twillys. I think we spent around $2,000. And prior to that, I didn't have a significant purchase history."

Still, she could purchase a bag directly from Hermès for the first time that day.

Where she carries them: Not only does Rasco use her bags, but she also parties with them. She recently attended a Spotify event and brought her Birkin on the dance floor.

"It was a risk because other people around me were drinking, but I was out there having a fabulous time with my Birkin," she said.

Name: Tiffany Moon

Age: 39

Her first Birkin: Moon's first Birkin bag was a celebratory purchase.

It was 2008, and she was paying her way through medical school with scholarships, loans, and paychecks from a waitressing job. But whenever possible, she'd set aside money for flights she'd need to take when interviewing for hospital residencies.

She was told to save between $10,000 and $15,000. But because Moon was at the top of her class, she landed a residency much sooner — with far fewer flights — than expected.

"So, I bought my first Birkin — a 35-centimeter in black Togo leather with gold hardware — with the money that I had saved for residency interviews but did not need to use," she said. "Back then, it cost like $8,000."

"I still use her to this day. People are like, 'So you got your Birkin when you graduated from medical school. Do you have rich parents or something?' And I'm like, 'No, my parents are poor. I grew up in poverty.' Could I have invested that money? Sure. But some might say the Birkin was the investment."

Current bag count: At least 50, by Moon's guess. She prefers Birkins, but she also has at least 10 Kelly bags.

Why she loves them: Moon is clear on one thing: Birkins are just bags, and collecting is simply her hobby.

"I appreciate the rich history and craftsmanship of the bag," she said. "I like talking to people about them, and placing a special order always has a little thrill. I don't have many hobbies, so I guess Birkin collecting is mine, but they're just bags."

The secret to her success: Hermès sales associates are key to having a Birkin collection like Moon's.

The "Real Housewives of Dallas" star first connected with a sales associate in Texas, who later directed Moon to her current contact once they left the company. She also developed a relationship with a sales associate in San Fransisco where she did her anesthesia residency.

"We're still friends, you know what I mean?" she said. "When I was in San Francisco last year for an anesthesia conference, I went to visit her. I don't know about other people, but my sales associates are like my friends. They know me. I've had them at my birthday parties before, cocktail parties, that sort of thing."

Where she carries them: Moon protects her bags. She wraps Twilly scarves around their handles and places plastic cap protectors over their feet. But she takes those measures so that she can use them.

"I fly commercial and put my bags on the floor under the seat in front of me," she said. "At the end of the day, it's just a bag, and a bag is meant to facilitate your life. If you have to baby your bag or not go certain places because of what you're carrying, that to me is silly. I would never do that. I use my Birkins."

Name: Lydia Millen

Age: 36

Her first Birkin: About three years ago in London, Millen, who's spent the past decade creating luxury and fashion content, purchased her first Hermès bag — a Birkin 30 made from Barenia Faubourg leather in the shade Fauve — from a consignment shop.

@lydiamillen Only the classics always #handbagcollection #hermescollection #hermesbirkin30 #birkinsellier25 #minikelly #kelly28 #luxurycollection #autumnfashion ♬ original sound - Lydia Millen

Current bag count: "My collection is very small and edited in the grand scheme of things," she said. "I see these huge, palatial closets filled with lots of different Hermès bags. But for me, it's about having pieces that are going to get the most wear in my wardrobe."

Why she loves them: The exclusivity factor plays a part in Millen's love for Hermès bags, but for her, it's about the quality.

"It really is the fact that it's a family-owned business and that the craftsmanship and materials they use are the highest quality," she said.

"They're robust, reliable, and I think they always look good, no matter how old they are. I've got one bag that is over 50 years old, and it still looks absolutely spectacular."

The more scuffed, the better: A dust-bag packaged Birkin straight out of an orange Hermès box is one thing. But for Millen, nothing beats an aged and slouchy Birkin 25, especially those made from Box or Barenia leather.

"Barenia is one of the most historically prominent leathers in the Hermès library," she said.

"It's what they used to make their saddlery. It is so beautiful and quite delicate — but you want to see the signs of age on the leather. It patterns quite quickly. It scratches, it scuffs," Millen added. "I like leather that shows its age and just gets better over time. I like bags like fine wines."

Where she carries them: It's likely not surprising that Millen uses her Birkins and Kellys daily.

"They're coming with me when I'm going to the gym — not into the gym, but to the gym — shopping, meetings," she said.

She feels they're meant to be loved and used. After all, Millen said, "That's why they're made so well — so that they transcend time and go through life with you."

Name: Tania Antonenkova

Age: 31

Her first Birkin: While many people joined TikTok and baked bread during the pandemic, Tania Antonenkova became obsessed with Hermès.

She quickly found that many luxury shoppers spend years shopping at Hermès stores, building relationships with sales associates, and spending thousands on other items before being offered bags. So, she aimed to go the resale route instead. Her husband had other plans.

"My husband said he would just get me one at the store, and I laughed at him," she said. "But he managed to buy one there the same day. It was back in 2020; maybe COVID had something to do with that. It was much, much easier to get bags."

He picked up a $10,000 Birkin 30 Officier bag made from Togo leather in the shade Bleu Encre and embellished with palladium hardware.

Current bag count: "I don't keep count. I know it's more than 10," she said, noting three Birkins, four mini Kelly bags, and a handful of other Kellys in bigger sizes.

Why she loves them: Antonenkova was originally drawn to the luxury status and exclusive reputation of Birkins, but the quality of Hermès pieces has kept her coming back for more.

"I've researched different brands — their craftsmanship and leather quality — and have not found anything remotely close to Hermès," she said.

She's so passionate about the brand's bags that Antonenkova created a members-only group where people pay her to share Hermès expertise and provide shopping tips.

"I call it H Inner Circle," she said. "I do monthly Q&As with people, give advice, and listen to their shopping situations."

What's not worth the hype: Now an Hermès expert who makes content about the brand, Antonenkova noted that the most difficult Birkins to buy are the smallest, size 25, because they're the most popular with shoppers — but she's not a fan.

"I cannot wrap my head around them," she said. "The size is a bit too small. All my Birkins are size 30."

Where she carries them: Rather than keeping her Hermès collection on display, Antonenkova uses her bags everywhere — from airplanes to private tours of Versailles.