Birkin Bros: Why men covet extravagant Hermès handbags

When it came to men wielding Hermes handbags, Floyd Mayweather was ahead of the curve. For years, the prodigious pugilist known as “Money” has taken to parading his arsenal of lustrous handbags from the French luxury house, recognizable by their trapezoidal shape and shimmering silver buckle. “No luggage required…just my Diamond Hermès HAC 50 Crocodile coin bag,” reads the caption on a 2015 Instagram photo, which shows him stepping off a private jet with a towering black leather bag in his hand.

Kanye West, Travis Scott and Marc Jacobs also carried the boxy Birkins (first introduced in 1984 and named after French actress Jane Birkin) or its heavier sibling, the Haut à Courroies, or HAC. Hermès doesn’t publish the price of its coveted handbags (nor are they specifically marketed by gender), but, according to collectors, Birkins start around $10,000, while larger HACs can be even more. Dear.

Recently, the clique of men toting the coveted bags from Hermès seems to be getting bigger. Driven by a combination of social media flexing, a rise in the adoption of men’s bags and an investment-obsessed fashion resale market, a fascination with Birkins and HACs is spreading from celebrities to less famous collectors.

Between the first half of 2021 and the second, the RealReal, a luxury resale site, saw the interest of male buyers in Birkins grow twice as fast as that of female buyers. During this period, men’s search interest in two plus-size models – the Birkin 45 (nearly 18 inches wide) and the Birkin 50 (nearly 20 inches wide) – jumped 361% and 219% respectively. Among the male buyers on the RealReal,

the growth in sales of Hermès bags exceeded that of Louis Vuitton and Gucci bags.

StockX, the online resale marketplace that says it has a predominantly male clientele, has a Hermès handbag department, where you can find a Birkin cherry red priced at $25,288 and a black version of its shoulder strap cousin, the Kelly, at $48,000. Bags are a small but growing facet of StockX’s business. This year, searches for “Birkin” have increased by 50% on the site, which says it is currently seeing an even gender split among shoppers of items in its “handbags” section.

Pro player Dave ‘Vegas Dave’ Oaneca (in pink) is a prolific Birkin collector.


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Hermès declined to share comparable data, but in a sign the house is reaching out to male bag shoppers, it showcased the ‘Rock’, a new zippered version of the HAC, at its latest men’s show in January. . This one-bag luggage locker will be available towards the end of 2022. (Hermès would not share the price of the bag.)

Each Birkin is handmade in France and the company does not publish how many it produces per year. In the age of instant gratification online shopping, shopping for a Birkin is oddly and, perhaps snobly, daunting. You can’t buy a bag off the shelf; a Hermès employee must offer the opportunity to purchase one. Many successful Birkineers will tell you that they spent years shopping for Hermès items – clothes, homewares, shoes – until a salesperson granted them entry into this elite club. An elite club, remember, where the entry fee would be at least $10,000.

“There is such demand for these bags and honestly, rightly so,” said Judy Taylor, president of Madison Avenue Couture, one of many resale sites, including Rebag, Jane Finds and Fashionphile, that has emerged over the past two decades as a shortcut to getting a new or lightly used Birkin, often at a premium price. The bags are “beautiful, they are very well made… you know, they have a certain panache to them,” Ms Taylor said.

In addition to collecting Herme handbags, New Yorker Max Brownawell analyzes the Birkin resale market.


Max Brownawell

This may sum up the appeal of a Birkin in general, but why are men more interested in it than before? On the one hand, some men have progressed beyond mocking man bags and now think of them as practical, though often extravagant, accessories. “There’s a subset of men who now feel more comfortable with these smaller bags and can carry them well,” said Ms. Taylor, who estimated half of her bag customers were women. men, although the majority of these men still buy bags for their wives or partners.

The internet has also convinced more men that Birkins are worth coveting. On Instagram, you can find accounts like @MenInHermes and @BirkinMen filled with images of men posing with these square bags.

With social media, “you get a lot more from adapting your collection and getting all the latest colors for the season and stuff,” said Max Brownawell, a New York artist and Birkin connoisseur who consults on the handbag market for auction house Sotheby’s. Mr Brownawell follows the Birkin resale market and noted that recently prices for larger bags (which are better suited to a man’s wider frame) have risen, which he attributes in part to buyers men who flock to the brand.

There’s a call to Birkins “I’ve got it and you haven’t” which, among men, speaks the same boastful language as buying limited NFTs or a pair of vintage Jordans – two markets that also exploded recently, it is no coincidence. Men often view Birkins as an investment, and Hermès bags in good condition hold their value in the resale market. “I come into this knowing that I won’t lose any money,” said Matthew Nguyen29-year-old actor and artist in Los Angeles who bought a few Hermès bags on the resale market.

Tech recruiter Gordon Paitimusa diligently saved up to buy his Birkin.


Gordon Paitimusa

Mr Nguyen, who grew up in Australia, didn’t grow up around designer handbags but fell in love with them as an adult through YouTube reviews and unboxing videos. “I use Hermès because it’s so understated,” he said, adding that he likes to pair the bags with second-hand clothes for a top-down clash. Rather than keep his bags cloistered in dustproof plastic cases (as finicky collectors do), Mr. Nguyen hauls them around town, storing pepper spray, his wallet, sunglasses and keys inside. interior.

Gordon Paitimusa, 30, a recruiter for a tech company in San Francisco, who owns a black leather version of a Birkin, sees himself as part of a new generation of young male shoppers who really “save and save and decide to spend their money on a Hermès bag.” (He wanted it to be known that he didn’t have a “dad” who bought him the bag.)

He spent years researching the bags by reading and watching YouTube videos and was able, quite impressively, to iron out the differences between two of their manufacturing options – the smooth “Barenia” leather and the heavy “Clemence” – like he was training to be a Hermès sales associate. . If you’re going to spend that amount on a bag,” he said, “you have to be pretty aware of what kind of leather you like. Wise words for all future Birkin brothers.

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