Beyond the bevy of buttery and exotic leather options, the rainbow spectrum of color choices and the impeccable Hermès craftsmanship behind every Birkin bag lies a secret language. If you aren’t already familiar, Hermès employs a hush-hush mode of communication to mark the bags specifically designed for top collectors and VIP clientele.
Legendary actress and model, Jane Birkin scribbled the specifications for her dream handbag on a motion sickness bag and gave it to Hermès’ chief executive, Jean-Louis Dumas. It was on this Air France flight from Paris to London in the early 80s that the iconic Birkin bag was born. Who would have thought the Birkin bag would become such a coveted accessory and status symbol in the fashion world?
The Birkin has come a long way from its anecdotal beginning and remains the most coveted handbag on the luxury market, with a starting price of approximately $11,900. However, there are a few details that separate the lust-worthy accessory from its truly unique and one-of-a-kind counterparts. One such identifying factor? The horseshoe stamp that can be found to the left of the printed Hermès logo on the face of the bag. This unique stamp signifies that the particular bag was made by Hermès to the specifications of a top collector.
Essentially, the icon indicates that this is not just a bag purchased directly from the luxury fashion house; these bags are a small subcategory of an already extremely exclusive and in-demand handbag style, thus making it considerably more costly than the average model.
In fact, the stamp is so significant that according to Christie’s associate specialist of handbags and accessories, Rachel Koffsky, that “at auction, a horseshoe stamp can increase the auction estimate of a bag by up to 200%.” These detailed touches indicated by the stamp can comprise anything from a bicolor or a tricolor exterior, contrasting stitching, custom lining color or diamond encrusted hardware.
Although its popularity with a more diverse consumer set has increased, the bag still remains an almost unobtainable luxury item. A recent study even deemed the Birkin a better investment than stocks or gold, increasing in value on average by 14.2% each year. Some bags even have a multiple year-long waitlist, a more exclusive item to secure than a rare Rolex watch, Graff diamond ring or Cartier bracelet, to name a few.
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