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Saturday, April 13, 2024

I’m a Handbag-loving Fashion Editor—These are the Birkin Bag Alternatives I’m Considering

There are a few fashion pieces with a longstanding appeal that only grows richer with time. Chanel’s 2.55 Jumbo Flap bag and Burberry’s gabardine trench coat are some examples that spring to mind, but perhaps neither are as exemplary as Hermès’ iconic Birkin Bag. So much so that it demands the attention of those without a vested interest in fashion, much like the equivalent of an athlete who has become a household name, even for those who couldn’t care less about sport (guilty!).

Nl Marilyn

Hermès was conceived in 1837 by Thierry Hermes, whose foray into the leather goods realm was fashioning hardwearing horse saddles. Public interest in the luxury leather goods specialist has multiplied per decade, paving the way for its now infamous lifestyle accessories and the prices follow suit. Hermès has matured into a heritage brand synonymous with French fashion and among the most coveted styles are Hermès Kelly and Birkin bags, of which the latter has a charming backstory to go alongside. Hermès famously coined the Birkin bag’s eponymous title after Jean-Louis Dumas (executive chairman of Hermès at the time), encountered tastemaker Jane Birkin on a flight. Birkin spoke about requiring a timeless, yet functioning bag to suit her needs as a mother, and thereafter the Birkin was born. Fewer bags have mastered the same appeal with an onus on practicality whilst boasting the most luxe aesthetic. Comprising dedicated compartments for baby bottles, a boxy silhouette, Hermès’ signature lock closure, an emblematic burnished leather flap, grained leather, saddle stitching and a spacious interior. Jane Birkin famously wore hers as intended and she was photographed balancing it on her person with it filled with careless abandon.


Totalling anywhere between five to six figures, it’s certainly on the higher end of the investment piece scale, and the markup is continually increasing as is the exclusivity factor. Add in the fact that you—reportedly—have to be a regular Hermès customer to even be offered the option of purchasing a Birkin new, and I think it’s safe to say that this bag is fashion’s most exclusive style. However, the silhouette continues to inspire designers and myriad boxy iterations with similar features are being introduced into the fold. If, like me, you’re also enamoured by the infamous Hermès Birkin holdall and looking for slightly more attainable alternatives to tide you over until you can get your hands on one (a girl can dream!), continue reading to see and shop other elegant styles that are just as beautiful.

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