Secrets of the Birkin: Fashion insiders reveal how much coveted Hermès purse costs to make and the bizarre hoops shoppers have to jump through to be offered one

It is the world’s most coveted purse – and only available to buy from its illustrious French manufacturer via invite.

And now fashion insiders have revealed the fascinating secrets of the coveted Hermès Birkin bags, which wealthy bag aficionados clamor to buy. 

Made from materials like crocodile and alligator skins, as wells as luxe leathers with fancy names like Tadelakt and Monsieur Grainee, Birkin bags take a minimum of 18 hours to hand craft. The ‘basic’ model costs around $11,400 before tax if bought direct from Hermès, while special editions can run into the hundreds of thousands. 

But to make the pricey purses, it costs Hermès just about $1,000, analysts told The Wall Street Journal. 

Dedicated shoppers have go out of their way to snag the purses, which are made in a limited supply, and normally only offered to clients who have an extensive purchasing history with the brand. 

Hermès Birkin bags cost customers tens of thousands of dollars but the bag cost the company just about $1,000 to make, according to analysts. (pictured: A $129,000 crocodile Birkin bag)

Kim Kardashian is seen arriving at the stadium in Osaka with one of her many Birkin bags in hand

Kim Kardashian is seen arriving at the stadium in Osaka with one of her many Birkin bags in hand

Insiders told the Journal that Hermès shoppers must splurge $10,000 on other goods like shoes and scarves before they’re invited to purchase a basic model. 

To be considered for a rare, limited edition purse, Hermès regulars must spend around $200,000 on other items in-store, it is claimed. 

Even when the coveted offer is made, shoppers are shown a single bag they’ve been invited to buy and are not allowed to specify its color. 

Anyone lucky enough to snag a Birkin from Hermès can sell it to an online reseller for around $23,000, with that retailer then listing it for around $32,000.

Bag fans say this proves the purses are a good investment – but forget the thousands they’ve been forced to spend on other items before getting their hands on a Birkin.  

‘Each piece is crafted by hand in Pantin, France, at the Hermès atelier, by one expert craftsperson,’ Rachel Koffsky, who is the international head of handbags & accessories at Christie’s, previously told DailyMail.com.

Koffsky explained that the bag was designed after a ‘fortuitous meeting’ took place in 1983 with British film star, style icon and singer, Jane Birkin.  

Birkin became frustrated that she couldn’t find the perfect-sized handbag, so she and Jean-Louis Dumas, the chief executive of Hermès, sat down on a flight to London and sketched out the desired bag. 

In exchange for creating the now famed purse, Birkin, who died in 2023, received a royalty from Hermès every year. 

The birth story of the luxurious bag has alone attracted buyers all around the world and played into the hype of the purse. 

‘It’s a great narrative,’ David Dubois, an associate professor of marketing at the business school Insead told WSJ. 

Customers who are lucky enough to score a bag sometimes offload them to resellers for more than double the retail price. (pictured: An Hermès store in Hong Kong, China)

Customers who are lucky enough to score a bag sometimes offload them to resellers for more than double the retail price. (pictured: An Hermès store in Hong Kong, China)

Actor and singer Jennifer Lopez is seen carrying a black Birkin bag as she steps out in NYC in April

Actor and singer Jennifer Lopez is seen carrying a black Birkin bag as she steps out in NYC in April 

The bag wasn’t always so hard to get, as it was originally sold on the shelf at Hermès boutiques in the early 90s.

The drastic economic shift came between 2008-2009, during the financial crisis, Matthew Rubinger, a chief commercial officer at 1stDibs, an online marketplace, said. 

‘Once (the limited edition versions) started getting above $100,000, things got more serious,’ Rubinger explained, adding that the idea of a no-logo bag was easily available to rock during every season- never going out of style.  

For many fashion aficionados, these iconic accessories are an ultimate status symbol reserved only for celebrities, socialites and the ultra-wealthy. 

Some of Hollywood’s most elite actors, singers and models, including Kim Kardashian and Jennifer Lopez have been spotted with a Birkin bag in hand. 

Kim, a Birkin mega-fan is said to have a collection of bags ranging from $50,000 to $500,000.

The ‘it bag’ has caused such hysteria that people have done nearly anything, including sucking up to Hermès employees to get one. 

Some people have gone as far as to bring in freshly baked cookies, offered Beyoncé tickets, a trip to the Cannes Film Festival in a private plane, and even handed over a wad of cash to the associates- just to get a Birkin for themselves. 

What’s more is that shoppers will spend thousands of dollars on other Hermès products just to prove how dedicated they are to the French luxury brand. 

Birkin collectors explained that serious buyers who want to ‘qualify’ have to invest in other items that aren’t as desirable as the handbag, including watches, shoes, silk scarves and even a $87,500 canoe. 

The 'it bag' has caused such hysteria that people have done nearly anything, including sucking up to Hermès employees at the stores, to get one. (pictured: Cardi B showing off her Hermès Birkin Faubourg bag)

The ‘it bag’ has caused such hysteria that people have done nearly anything, including sucking up to Hermès employees at the stores, to get one. (pictured: Cardi B showing off her Hermès Birkin Faubourg bag)

Shoppers will spends thousands of dollars on other Hermès products just to prove how dedicated they are to the French luxury brand. (pictured: Model Karlie Kloss with a Birkin bag in Soho, NY in 2022)

Shoppers will spends thousands of dollars on other Hermès products just to prove how dedicated they are to the French luxury brand. (pictured: Model Karlie Kloss with a Birkin bag in Soho, NY in 2022) 

When new shipments come in, Hermès sales assistants refer to their specific lists of wealthy clients waiting to snag a bag. 

That employee must then establish why the client is worthy of the bag and get the manager’s approval before moving forward.

The detailed process saw the company be sued by two customers that claimed the company forced clients to jump through very pricey hoops in order to earn the opportunity to purchase one of the bags.

In March, two Californians, Tina Cavalleri and Mark Glinoga, slapped the brand with a class-action lawsuit, alleging that they were required to purchase other luxury items from the retailer in order to obtain a Birkin.    

According to The Fashion Law, Hermès was accused of antitrust and unfair business practices after taking advantage of the ‘unique desirability, incredible demand and low supply’ of the designer bags.  

Tina and Mark accused Hermès of using the hard-to-get bags to boost their sales of other products. They claimed that shoppers are often told to develop a close relationship with their sales associate and work their way up to eventually procuring the handbag by purchasing other items from the brand first. 

In response, the company said in a recent court filing that it does not require its customers to buy other products in order to get one of the famed bags. 

In March, two Californians, Tina Cavalleri and Mark Glinoga, slapped the brand with a class-action lawsuit, alleging that they were required to purchase other luxury items from the retailer in order to obtain a Birkin

In March, two Californians, Tina Cavalleri and Mark Glinoga, slapped the brand with a class-action lawsuit, alleging that they were required to purchase other luxury items from the retailer in order to obtain a Birkin

Individual Hermès sales assistants have specific lists of wealthy clients waiting to snag a bag that they consider once a new shipment comes in

Individual Hermès sales assistants have specific lists of wealthy clients waiting to snag a bag that they consider once a new shipment comes in

However, even after customers are offered once of the coveted bags, they are often not given a choice as to which color or size they can take home, leading them to seek out resellers to meet their specific needs. 

Reselling a Birkin bought from Hermès is regarded as a dirty secret and none of them women – or men – who do so would speak to the Journal on record for fear of being blacklisted by the brand. 

Some customers have even skipped the treacherous process of scoring a bag at a boutique, and have turned their attention only to resellers. 

Michelle Berk, the founder of  Privé Porter, a ‘private collection store of fresh Hermès bags’ described the resale market on Birkin’s as a ‘buy-now button.’ 

Although the company explicitly tells customers on receipts  to not ‘directly or indirectly, resell Hermès products purchased in our boutiques for commercial purposes,’ they are aware of the trade, as it helps the brand in the end.  

In January, the brand decided to up the price of its exotic-skin Birkin by 20 percent- something many resellers think was done to target their business. 

Instead of letting it affect them, resellers sold to their customers without the dramatic price increase. 

Analysts say the number of other pristine Hermès items listed for sale on resale sites shows that people are spending thousands on goods they don’t want to get the bag.

Around 35 of Hermès items listed on TheRealReal are in pristine condition, far more than the 20 per cent of items from rivals including Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Prada.

It is suggested these shoes, scarves and other non-Birkin accessories were only ever bought in the hopes of securing a bag. 

And even when you do finally spend enough to buy a Birkin, the retailer will only offer you a maximum of two of the bags per year, it is claimed. 

Hermès is said to have no plans to increase production of the bag. Keeping it exclusive maintains the purse’s cachet – and also dramatically boosts sales of other Hermès goods bought by people desperate for an invite to purchase a Birkin.  

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Read more at DailyMail.co.uk