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History Of The Iconic Birkin Bag

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History Of The Iconic Birkin Bag

Author : Dawn Statham-Lowe

Submitted : 2014-01-09 13:53:37    Word Count : 593    Popularity:   Not Rated

Tags:   Hermes, Birkin, Bag, Handbag, Italian, designer, leather, style, Birkinbag

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Copyright (c) 2014 Dawn Statham-Lowe

The iconic Birkin bag is a relatively new phenomenon. The conception of this classic bag dates back to the 1980's when Chief Executive of Hermès Jean Louis Dumas, was on a flight from Paris to London with English singer and actress Jane Birkin. When she tried to place her straw bag in the overhead compartment the contents spilled out onto the deck and as she scrambled to collect the items. Birkin told Dumas that she could not find a suitable, decent leather weekend bag that she liked.

In 1984 a package arrived on Jane Birkin's doorstep. Dumas had created a black supple leather weekend bag based on an original 1892 design called 'haute a courrories' which translates to 'high belts' and was originally designed to carry equestrian equipment. Jane used the bag but later changed her mind because she was carrying too many things in it. When asked about purchasing another, Jane replied "What's the use of having a second one. You only need one and that busts yout arm; they're bloody heavy. I'm going to have to have an operation for tendonitis in the shoulder." The bag went on to be universally known as the Birkin but ironically the person the bag was created for does not use it.

Today this structured tote bag is largely unchanged. Viewed from the side it is triangular in shape and from the front the bag tapers slightly to a top opening with double top handles and a fold over front flap. This is secured with a horizontal strap held in loops, and locked together with a central spindal and padlock. The keys are enclosed in a clochette that hangs from the handle. The locks and keys are number coded and the metallic hardware is gold or palladium plated to prevent tarnishing. The Birkin is free of any logos and each bag is discreetly stamped with Hermès, Paris, Made in France plus the stamp of the craftsperson who made the bag. The bag is placed inside Hermès signature orange felt dust bag.

Birkin bags are sold in a range of sizes 25, 30, 35, and 40cms. The larger 50 and 55cms bags are designed to be used as luggage and are great for travelling. The bags come in a variety of different top quality hides such as calf leather, ostrich, crocodile and lizard and in a huge range of colours from pink to baby blue and is lined in matching coloured goat skin.

The bags are handmade by Hermès in France by expert artisans. Each is hand sewn using their signature saddle stitch, buffed, painted and polished using the finest leathers and each one takes several days to create. At one time there were waiting list of up to 6 years for this sought after bag which caused high reselling prices and in April 2010 Hermès announced that there would no longer be a waiting list.

Prices range from £4,800 to £100,000 depending on materials used or if it's a limited edition. The bags are distributed to Hermès boutiques in unpredictable schedules creating exclusivity and scarcity. The cost makes the Hermès Birkin, a bag only a few can afford but don't despair as there are many reputable designers who make fabulous similar bags in the style and homage to the Birkin that are made by artisans in fabulous Italian leathers that will look fabulous and last a lifetime. But do also be aware of fakes, which are poorly made in vast numbers from the Far East.

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At Attavanti we love to promote the Made in Italy brand. For the very best in Italian leather designer handbags, shoulder bags, leather holdalls, wallets and purses take a look around our store at www.attavanti.com

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