Arm Candy: The Hermès Birkin and Kelly Handbag
Recently, an article in Harper’s Bazaar called the Hermès Birkin handbag a “better investment than the stock market.” Over the last 35 years, the Birkin bag has become the most exclusive bag in the world and its value has increased 14.2%, mostly due to its luxurious appeal and scarcity in the industry. For this reason, the resale market, including auction, has seen a boom in these coveted bags. On February 20, you will have the opportunity to purchase an Hermès Birkin when a Private Florida Collection of Luxury Accessories hits the auction block in the West Palm Beach, Florida saleroom.
The Hermès Fashion House was founded in Paris as a harness-making shop by Thierry Hermès. Hermès began his fashion house by crafting horse harnesses for carriages. He was well known for his expert craftsmanship and was greatly appreciated and respected by European royalty.
Although Hermès created various goods such as saddles and harnesses, it was not until 1922 that handbags were introduced to the fashion house by Thierry’s son and successor, Charles-Emile Hermès. Within ten years, Hermès became quite well known for their handbags, including their most popular “Kelly” and “Birkin” styles, which remain part of the Hermès line today.
The Kelly bag was named after American actress and former Princess of Monaco, Grace Kelly. This bag became well known after an iconic shot of Kelly was shown as she used the bag to shield herself from the paparazzi. The Kelly bag is extremely fashionable and takes up to eighteen hours to craft. The bag is made by one individual craftsman and is comprised of goatskin, which is hand sewn. The Kelly bag comes with a $8,000-10,000 price tag due to its materials, meticulous construction and the careful handling required.
Hermès continued this trend of naming his handbags after celebrities with the invention of the Birkin named after Jane Birkin—a popular English actress. In 1981, Hermès chief executive Jean-Louis Dumas was seated next to Jane Birkin on a flight from Paris to London. The actress explained to Dumas that it had been difficult to find a leather weekend bag she liked. A few years later he created a large black leather bag especially for the actress, and the Birkin bag was born.
The Birkin bag can cost anywhere from $10,000-$80,000. It consists of various types of exotic skins, and most styles are not available for immediate purchase. Most stores carry elite waiting lists and typically don’t have extra bags in stock. It can take up to 18 months to purchase a bag once on the list and it often requires a personal relationship with the company over time.
Leslie Hindman Auctioneers’ upcoming sale, ArmCandy: A Private Florida Collection of Luxury Accessories, will be showcasing some of these extraordinary Birkin and Kelly bags in vivid colors that are in near perfect condition. Three Kelly bags will hit the auction block, and five Birkins will be available as well.
The preview for this sale will begin Friday, February 12 in the Leslie Hindman Auctioneers’ West Palm Beach saleroom. The live auction will be held Saturday, February 20. Online, phone and absentee bidding will be available as well.
FULL PREVIEW SCHEDULE:
Friday, February 12, 2016, 10am – 5pm
Saturday, February 13, 2016, 10am – 4pm
Monday, February 15, 2016, 10am – 5pm
Tuesday, February 16, 2016, 10am – 5pm
Wednesday, February 17, 10am – 5pm
Thursday, February 18, 2016, 10am – 5pm
Friday, February 19, 2016, 10am – 3pm