At the tender age of 17 I discovered Jane Birkin and her glorious Birkin bag created for her by Hermes. I remember it like yesterday, browsing through my latest issue of Vogue when I came upon a feature of Jane Birkin and her iconic handbag. As the article told, Jane was on a flight and happened to be sitting next to the head of Hermes, Jean-Louis Dumas when the contents of her straw tote bag spilled everywhere, causing him to suggest that he would create a bag for her that would be easy to travel with. According to legend, Jane helped him during the flight on the sketch he created on an airplane napkin (so they say). The bag was released in 1984 but it was not a major seller for the label until the mid 1990’s because the 1980’s were dominated by Chanel and their famous Flap bag (but that’s another day’s blog). The only real attention the Birkin received was an ad in American Vogue in 1989.
Nonetheless, the more I read about the process that took to make each bag, the more I became obsessed. My obsession had nothing to do with the famous women who wore the handbag, or the media attention it later received. It was the countless hours that one single craftsman takes to make each bag. One craftsman is responsible for making their own Birkin from start to finish, lastly stamping their i.d. code when they are finished identifying that particular bag as theirs. To me it’s a process that requires so much attention and love, that no other brand I feel could ever compare to. Fast forward to now, I am finally in a position to purchase my dream bag. I am patiently waiting for that call from my Sales Associate at Hermes telling me that my bag has arrived. The thing is, the women you usually see carrying their Birkin, baby it as if it were a precious Emerald that will scratch at any moment. Or they have several of them in different colors, never really making use of the true purpose of the bag. Is an Hermes Birkin really meant to be babied? I certainly do not think so. For me, the bag is meant to be used and really appreciated for what it was meant to be. A well crafted workhorse of a hand bag to be loved.