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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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?