hermes birkin bags


Some things live on your mind rent-free for years… In ON OUR MINDS, we discuss topics we can’t wrap our heads around or those that need to shed light on. Today: THE EVERLASTING APPEAL OF THE HERMÈS BIRKIN BAG and an explanation of the RISING PRICES OF DESIGNER BAGS in general, explained by BAG EXPERT and SACLÀB CO-FOUNDER and CREATIVE DIRECTOR ALEXANDRA STUECK. Cover photo: courtesy of SACLÀB

During the tumult of crises, inflation, and recession, an exciting movement emerges in the increasing demand for high-end designer treasures. In this era of uncertainty, collectors find solace and sophistication in acquiring pieces that transcend mere commodities—they become coveted investments, promising diversification and delight.

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Here, luxury handbags enter the conversation—a business where passion interferes with profitability. Over the past years, iconic accessories have emerged as steady assets, defying economic downturns with resilience. In the annals of investment prowess, Hermès Birkin Bags and Chanel handbags reign supreme and probably will do so in the upcoming decades. According to research conducted by Deloitte, in 2020, amidst the throes of a global pandemic, Hermès Birkin Bags boasted an annual return of +38%, while Chanel handbags commanded an 11.8% increase. Beyond their attractive power, these fashion gems wield the power to elevate portfolios.

As one might expect, the Hermès Birkin Bag is at the top of the list. Over the years, it has gained a quintessential cult status, with its price tag growing accordingly. The absence of eye-catching logos underscores the house’s foundation for excellent craftsmanship. Each Birkin Bag, Hermès claims, takes at least forty hours of manual work. 


Only the “lucky few” can get a new Hermès bag. That is, after purchasing multiple pairs of shoes, silk scarfs, wallets, and jewelry. In a Hermès boutique, the most “standard” Hermès Birkin Bag starts around $10,000 after a price increase in 2023. These prices and the bags’ apparent scarcity make them even more coveted. Usually, a standard Birkin is sold for at least $16,000 on the resale market. Easy money, one would argue. But it’s not as simple as that, explains Alexandra Stueck, co-founder of SABLÀB, a collective of sartorial consultants for sought-after handbags. “Of course, one can resell a Hermès bag right after purchase. But storing it safely and waiting is better if you want to make a living. You never know whether you’ll be put on a black list by Hermès, prohibiting a next purchase.” 

Time Magazine recently reported two California shoppers who sewed Hermès. Tina Cavalleri recounted in legal proceedings that she had invested a considerable sum (amounting to tens of thousands of dollars) in Hermès products. However, when she tried to purchase a coveted Birkin bag from the house in September 2022, she was informed that such acquisitions were reserved exclusively for “clients who have been consistent in supporting the business.” This statement is interpreted as a subtle suggestion to increase her spending. The second plaintiff, Mark Glinoga, aimed to secure a Birkin Bag multiple times in 2022 without any luck. He was told to spend more on other accessories and items in the house. If Cavalleri and Glinoga win the lawsuit, it might impact Hermès’ bags worth. So far, no court ruling has yet been issued. 


Stueck started her business in 2018 together with her brother. She’s always been interested in luxury handbags without falling victim to them. Of course, she has a modest personal collection, but nothing too exaggerated. “I love Hermès but am drawn to the more unusual bags and limited editions. If I had to choose a favorite bag, I would go for a Chanel Timeless bag in denim.” Worth: around $7,000. Stueck has noticed the Birkin craze as well. “When it comes to the luxury business, we live in an interesting time,” she starts. “People are willing to spend tons on handbags, mostly as an investment.” However, a few lucky people buy the world’s most coveted handbags and use them daily, with Jennifer Lopez, who recently took her crocodile Birkin Bag for a gym class. “Those are exceptions,” Stueck knows. 

SACLÀB started at her brother’s – now SACLÀB’s CEO – bedroom. Making great money with his “side hustle,” he discovered it could become a serious business. Alexandra Stueck studied Design at the Design Academy Eindhoven. During her studies, she worked for reclaimed interior designer Ilse Crawford in London, creating design presentations for restaurants, retail spaces, and private houses. After graduation, she worked designing and developing rugs at Kvadrat, a Danish interior textiles company. And when she was done with her job in trend forecasting and Design, Stueck joined her brother in the pursuit of starting a luxury reselling business. Unlike The RealReal, Vinted, and Vestiaire Collective, SACLÀB started with only a few reclaimed leather goods houses. They sell handbags and leather goods by Dior, Bottega Veneta, Chanel, and Hermès. “These houses ensure incredible quality, piece after piece. The manual work and craftsmanship of their products go beyond anything else.” It’s an exciting mix, with Bottega Veneta on the spectrum’s lower end. “If one wants to invest in a designer bag on a moderate budget – that is, Bottega Veneta bags are still expensive, of course – I would opt for this house. Their quality is exceptional, and they sell against fair prices compared to other players in the luxury segment.” 

2022 was an outstanding year for SACLÀB. “We noticed people hadn’t spent money during the previous years and were willing to invest.” The Hermès Birkin 20 Faubourg Sous La Neige Matte Alligator Leather was sold for €265,000 (approximately $286,000). SACLÀB’s clients are assured of a good buy. Sellers register their bags via an online form, after which SACLÀB’s team of experts decide whether they will proceed. Once approved, the seller sends their soon-to-be resold bag to SACLÀB’s office, where the team will inspect the bag to the smallest detail. If everything is in order, the bag’s price will be agreed upon with its current owner, and the sale can start. Depending on the resale price, sellers get 75% to 84% of the earnings. 


Stueck admits that the pricing of high-end designer bags is a little out of this world. “The most coveted Hermès bags are only for the 1%. When discussing price points, a bag can come across as fairly priced, but still—the amounts we’re talking about are huge.” She instead refers to “great buys” rather than “affordable designer bags.” 

The iconic Hermès Birkin Bag is marked by understated elegance and everlasting appeal. But why are the prices this high? The answer is multidimensional, Stueck explains. “It’s a case of unparalleled craftsmanship with prestige, Hermès’ rich history, and the bag’s exclusivity. Its strictly limited availability further augmented it, adding mystery and desirability that pushed its price. Moreover, the Birkin’s iconic status has been bolstered by its ubiquitous presence in popular culture. The Birkin isn’t just a handbag; it’s a cultural phenomenon. A status symbol.” Furthermore, each Birkin Bag is handcrafted by a single artisan within the Hermès ateliers near Paris. These artisans – trained for years by Hermès – oversee selecting the right leather pieces, embellishing the bag with the metal hardware, and hand stitching the bags with Hermès’ famous double stitch. The creation of one bag takes up to forty hours. “When a bag is sent to Hermès for repair or maintenance, they aim to get the job done by the artisan who created the bag.” 

Overall, Togo leather is the most popular leather sort. It goes well with Hermès’ signature contrast stitching. “If you wish to invest in a Hermès bag and don’t know where to start, I recommend one of the classics. A 22 Birkin Togo with contrast stitching, for example. You can never go wrong with that bag.” She’s seen a rise in the demand for the Togo gold on gold. Its price is “fair,” she emphasizes. “During the pandemic, Birkin prices rose tremendously. There was a post-covid craze, where 2023 inflation took over, and people spent less.” Stueck recommends looking for a “full set,” indicating a bag with price tags and invoice. “The price depends on the type of leather, hardware, and its exclusivity. But you can never go wrong with buying a full set of Birkin.” 


“Chanel bags are of high quality,” Stueck knows. Chanel’s 22 Small Lamb Bag in black is in great demand. “People use it for the everyday. I’ve seen owners carrying laptops in it or using it instead of a diaper bag.” 

Chanel’s price rises have been controversial; Stueck explains how they surpassed Hermès’ prices last year. “Regarding quality, I don’t think a classic Chanel bag should cost more than a Hermès one. I wonder if the bubble will burst. Of course, Chanel bags are handmade, of great quality, and a safe investment, but the prices are crazy when you realize that only a couple of years ago, Chanel bags were sold over the counter for $6,000 instead of $10,000. It makes Chanel more popular in the resale market. These prices don’t rise accordingly. So, if you were to spend around $10,000 on a designer bag, I would opt for Hermès.” 

@sablab_official |