How I got my Birkin….

Even the most anti-fashion people will have heard about a bag where you have to get on a waiting list for years to receive it. It is the Hermès Birkin bag that became widely known thanks to Victoria Beckham, who probably owns hundreds of Hermès bags to begin with. Nevermind that it was Jane Birkin, whose requirements made the Birkin bag come to life. Now the mere mortals won’t have easy access to the bag, since having the cash to pay for it is not enough to get on a waiting list. Most of the time the lists are “closed” (euphemism for “closed for you VUP, very unimportant person”). But after getting my hands on my first “B”, as the Hermès afficionados call it, I can assure you that waiting lists aren’t the only way to get it.

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No, it wasn’t from a reseller nor did I sleep with the store manager or anyone else for it, I didn’t bribe anyone into selling it to me, don’t have VIP friends and didn’t even spend money on anything else to get it. I simply went to the store thrice, and was very polite and just being myself. I’m talking about an Hermès store, which is rumoured to just laugh at walk-ins (people who are not regular customers), let alone tourists asking for a B or K (Kelly, that is). I read on a very popular bag forum that they would never ever sell a B to a walk-in. So I guess I did the impossible, and had loads of luck.

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Above is the bag from pretty much one year ago. Below is how it looks today. The leather got softer and the sides sink in. The handles and padlock’s strap became straightened from the weight.

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The first time I got there I asked about the possibility of ordering my then dream color Bleu Aztec. The sales assistant (SA) made me understand that for ordering I would first have to spend some money there… since I live in Europe and refuse to pay premiums (apart from the premium on a B) I didn’t pursue this option and went to a different product department. There I got to know a sincerely nice SA with whom I chatted a little about my favorite Hermès colors. She referred me to one of her colleagues and I gave her my business card in case something comes in (but my hopes weren’t high at all). Then I proceeded to the actual bag department and met another SA, who was super lovely as well. She told me there were no Birkins today, but to come in on a different day. Just as I expected, no big deal.

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A couple days later I went there again. This time I found the SA in the bag department right after entering and she proceeded to actually look in the back for me.

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But she came out empty-handed and apologizing. It was okay as she seemed sincere and was a pleasure to deal with. So I left again, but not without her telling me to come back once again before I would depart for Vienna.

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On the third visit and final chance before my flight I was determined to get a B. So there I entered a busy store, saw a Harlekin croc Birkin on a customer while waiting and asked for an SA who was recommended by both the nice SAs previously. She noticed me, but was still serving a customer who took her time to choose a scarf. So I waited there patiently for 15min until she finally was available. When I introduced myself and told her why I knew her name she went like “Oh yes, I’ve heard nice things about you, so what are you looking for?”. At the same time she took out a tiny notepad where she scribbled my slightly vague, slightly defining answers (blue, green, purple or anything else bright, ideal size 35cm, but the leather color matters most, ideally gold HW, but again the leather color matters most…). Then down we went to the bag department, I took a seat at a desk, a bit nervous. I waited and marvelled at a catalogue lying around. I waited and waited and the longer it took the more nervous I got because it actually meant she was looking (for something that wasn’t reserved). When the door to the back opened again the SA came out with a huge box and my heart was pounding… it meant there was a B inside…

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I was asked to get into one of the private selling rooms so other clients wouldn’t be watching (it’s hard to tell them there are no Birkins when you’re showing one to someone else in front of their noses, no?)… I gladly did so. And there I was presented with my 40cm Birkin in Ultraviolet Clemence leather and Palladium hardware! A gorgeous purple, which looks bright in the sun and demure in artificial light. A dark color that is far from being boring, but classic enough to never go out of style. And a size where I could fit my kitchen sink in. Of course I took it, gulping down the premium I was paying in the US and still not believing that I was bringing home a Birkin. It was meant to be. The persistence, patience and knowledge about Hermès took off.

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Fast forward one year my B is still one of my most used bags (of course, I have to bring the price per wear down!). But oh my, it is darn heavy. It doesn’t help that I sometimes go (grocery ) shopping with it. The 40cm lets me fit loads of stuff into it, making it heavier and heavier. Some say it’s a bag with a built in fitness membership… I totally agree, but I gladly take this hardship for my Birkin.

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You might wonder how it holds up? I baby it a bit, watching the corners not to touch anything abrasive, but I set it on the floor all the time as it has feet anyway. I don’t put in any groceries that might drip or leak and so far I don’t have any visible scratches on it. There are tiny scratches at the corner, but you can barely see them even watching closely. The feet are quite scratched up and the hardware on the front also “got character”, but the leather held up beautifully with the handles showing no wear at all. All pictures apart from one are of the bag as it is today, after one year of usage (I don’t use the B daily though, more like once a week).

Do you like Birkins in general? What do you think about the whole waiting list craze?

Author: Jenny

Enjoying the finer things in life

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30 Comments

  1. Your Birkin looks very beautiful! It is a gorgeous bag, but it is so expensive! I would love to own a Birkin, but I would never spend so much money on a bag. I always wanted to get a Birkin from my very first paycheck but the closer I get to finishing my studies the more I dream of other things. And nowadays this first paycheck woulnd’t be enough to buy a Birkin. Don’t get me wrong, I love bags and especially Hermes goods, but in the end it’s just a bag and one could spend this money on more useful stuff.
    But I’m glad you got your dream bag!

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    • Sorry for the very late reply… the last weeks were very busy as you can probably imagine ;-) The price increases are the reason why I insist on buying a Birkin rather sooner than later. But you’re absolutely right, the price tag is pretty much insane if you really think about it (I try not to) and it’s just a bag. But a very well made one indeed. I hope you’ll get yours soon or whichever other things you’re dreaming of!

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      • I am a little late to this post. Firstly, lovely bag! Secondly, whilst I agree that the price is very high, I remember reading someone ask how many people buy a fancy car when they can settle for something like a Ford Fiesta. If you think about how much money even the more basic of brand new cars would set you back today. And how many thousands and thousand extra people spend because they don’t want the basic car. Furthermore, as soon as they drive off from the car dealer, the car instantly depreciates and thousands are lost. And it keeps on depreciating. At least with a Birkin, it maintains its value and increases with inflation.

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    • May i ask the name of the SA that help you? Thanks

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  2. This is a great story and you have to be so glad for not waiting like all the others. I’m already thinking if I should put my name on that list so I don’t have to wait in five years another five years, lol.

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    • Yes, do that! And if you don’t want it anymore in 5 years I’m glad to jump in :D

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  3. Thanks for sharing this! I have an SA/friend that works at the Madison avenue store. I recently got my first clic clac from my friend and I am tempted to ask my friend to help me get a B, but I am unsure if I want to spend that kind of money. I have to say that when I was there, I got very good service, maybe because my friend works there. Even if my friend wasn’t working there, I didn’t get the feeling that the SA’s were mean and would judge you by what you wore/carried. I felt they were nice enough and I am glad you got a positive experience.

    For your three visits, what was the time frame? Was it three visits throughout a week? 2 weeks? You are tempting me to get one. I love the shade of purple you got.

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    • Sorry for the late reply… I neglected my blog a bit too much. Well the tree visits were over a timeframe of one week or 10 days, I can’t remember it that well anymore to be honest. If you really like Bs you should ask your friend, they’re not getting any cheaper and it gets harder and harder to acquire one.

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  4. Well, I think they got lucky! The colour you bought isn’t certainly a dream colour for the B. I love purple but purple B is absolutely no go:)

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    • Thank god tastes are different. I’m sure the most popular colors are black and any neutral shade, but those are exactly what I’m not looking for. Out of curiosity: why is a purple B a no go if you love the color itself?

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  5. Well, purple is a difficult colour, it works great only as an accent unless you are a bishop;) Don’t get me wrong please, but B means discretion and simplicity to me and it will always look the best in all the neutral colours and black of course. But it’s me, as you noticed everyone is different.

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  6. Wow , you sound awfully rude !!!!! Who decided purple is a no go ? You !!!! I have a purple violin ostrich birkin : an absolute masterpiece !!!! What happened ? You can’t afford one so you can’t bring yourself to say anything positive ???? Regardless of colour a Birkin will most definetely make YOU a lady !!!!! A true lady is able to recognized the beauty of it and make appropriate comments !!!!!! SIGNORI SI NASCE !!!!! ( yeah go ahead google it )

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    • Are you ok? Did you drink too much? A bag (even B) will certainly not make you a lady, nothing will actually. If you are not. I do have few H bags, 2 Birkin among them and never would go for this colour. Again, that’s a matter of taste (or lack of it). Yes, I’m rude:-) i would suggest a AA therapy.

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      • Oh my, I usually let critical comments through as everyone is entitled to their opinion. But insinuating that a purple B might be a lack of taste makes me think that some people are just too “conservative” to consider something out of the ordinary…

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      • Now that’s a woman !!!! Classy !!

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  7. I cannot believe Isabel’s rudeness – l would give my left arm for that purple bag – it is to die for gorgeous ! l think maybe that Isabel has a large case of sour grapes and is a perfect example of a woman who decides to diss that which she cannot afford or obtain herself – Jenny thank you so much for sharing your story and giving us true bag lovers a peek at your gorgeous treasure – may it give you many years of pleasure and ps i am so jealous :) x

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  8. How much did you pay for it

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    • I paid the retail price for it

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  9. It is such a stunning B! I know I’m awfully late but congrats on getting such an iconic bag :) Thank you for sharing your experience, it was very interesting and you were very lucky to be able to get a B so quickly x

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  10. Hi! I’m in looove with your bag. It’s gorgeous!
    Could you leave me your email so I could contact you, please?

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  11. Thanks for sharing you adventure! I too have heard that it is pretty difficult to be offered a birkin without spending a small fortune, so I have only seen them on auction displayed at Barney’s. Luckily for me, I was offered one also without having to buy anything. Going to an Hermes store was quite intimidating, especially the Madison Ave store. I have been to several stores during vacation, but have never purchased anything. I started off browsing at some jewelry and scarves. Moved onto to the handbag department and looked at a few that were on display and was shown some wallets. Nothing caught my eye since everything was colorful and I was looking for something neutral (taupe, black, or something gray). As I was about to thank the sales associate and leave, I was asked if there was anything in particular I was looking for. I didn’t want to ask for the Birkin in fear of being rejected, so I said I was looking for an everyday bag in a neutral color. That was when SA asked if I was interested in a 35 Birkin in black. Are you kidding…I couldn’t believe it!!! Of course, I played it very cool and ask to see it first since I’m not sure about the sizes. Needless to say, it came home with me :)

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    • Congrats! Quite a lucky find, I would have taken a black B35 as well ;-)

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  12. Hi! Is it possible to place an order for a B? I want to buy a few other items from Hermes in any case so would it help if I did that and then asked to place an order? Do they have a book of samples for the colours? And how long would it take? Thanks and love your gorgeous bag :)

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    • Thank you! In general it is possible. But it always depends on which SA you will get. Buying something helps, but it is no guarantee. Yes, I was shown color samples in Paris and in Vienna. There is no definite waiting time once you get on the list. Might be anywhere from half a year if you’re lucky to a couple years.

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  13. Hi Jenny!
    Awesome story. Would you say the Paris stores are the ones to hit up? FSH? What about the other European stores? Thank you xx Jen

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    • Sorry for my late reply. I haven’t been active for quite some time.

      FSH is the one where most people go, but it really depends on your luck, not the actual store. If I had to choose I’d go to FSH first, then George V and then Rue de Sevres (but because of proximity reasons).

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  14. I was gifted a Birkin and would like to sell it, do you have any suggestions to sell in person? I don’t want to sell online.

    Thank you.

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    • If you would like to sell offline I would suggest stores near you that sell second hand/vintage designer items. Also spreading it by word of mouth (friends, family) would also be a good idea.

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  15. I love the color of your Birkin! It has so much individuality and style! As for that Isabel up there, well, some people like Vermeer’s work and some people like Warhol’s work, but that doesn’t make one of them more of an artist than the other. If that’s the way all people like her feel about your Birkin, then congratulations, you have acquired a real-life version of caller ID!

    Related: I too usually put my Birkin on the ground when I go to restaurants. So here’s a fun game for you: Go to an event where not many people know you (such as a brunch or dinner through MeetUp.com) don’t wear any other obviously branded clothing or accessories. Arrive early, put your Birkin on the floor under the table as you usually would. Have your meal, talk to people. Then, when you’ve got a good sample of talking to everyone near you, bring out the Birkin (to reapply lipstick, naturally) and see who changes their attitude to you. This is a game you can’t play with a lesser-known or less expensive handbag.

    Yes, a lot of people say, “Oh, it’s just a handbag!” But to me, the Birkin is the most perfectly designed handbag in the world. It is beautiful, timeless, secure, roomy, easy to carry, and easy to handle in terms of taking things out without setting it down. When made by Hermès, it is one of the most durable handbags out there. I fully expect mine (30cm black lizard, not very unique, but it matches 80% of my shoe collection, because that’s just the color and texture I love and wear most) to last for the rest of my life—even if it may need a little Hermès TLC from time to time. I’m not usually a woman to splash out needlessly, but the Birkin is a piece of durable, wearable art and totally worth it if it is within one’s means.

    If you don’t mind, could you continue to post photos of your Birkin through the years? To me, the aging of a well-loved handbag is an example of a Western version of Wabi-Sabi. That’s how I ended up at this page: I was Google searching for images of “my worn out Birkin”.

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    • Thank you for your kind comment and sorry for my late reply. I haven’t been active for quite some time. Yes, I will definitely post pictures of my “now older Birkin” here. In the meantime you can find a few snaps of it on my IG account @crackberrycream. The bag is now more than 3 years old… how time flies by.

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