How to Maintain the Value of Your Hermès Birkin Bag
When it comes to Hermès Birkin bags on the secondary market, condition plays a huge role in determining value. While store-fresh bags in the most popular colors and sizes tend to command top-dollar, there are vintage Birkins so rare that condition issues have little bearing on value. The most desirable regular leather Birkin bags currently top-out around $35,000 on the secondary market, and the most worn, least popular examples bottom out around $5,000. Some Hermès lovers prefer to buy bags that have already been ‘broken in’ so they won’t worry about adding scratches or scuffs and can use their bags however they’d like. But buyers are generally willing to pay more for better condition bags.
Jane Birkin herself famously stomps all over her namesake bag whenever she gets a new one, however if resale is any possibility in your bag’s future, here are a few tips on how to use it while maintaining its condition.
Protect the Handles
The first area that is likely to show wear on a Birkin bag is the handles. Birkin bag handles are less structured than Kelly handles and can become misshapen if too much weight is carried in the bag. The handles are also where bags are touched the most. Moisturizer and other lotions can accelerate the oil transfer that happens when skin touches leather. These oils will darken the handles in time, so if your bag is not already a dark color, consider wrapping the handles with Twilly scarves, Hermès silk Twillies are a popular choice but any thin length of fabric will do the trick. While Twillies are always a helpful accessory, others are not. Soft charms such as the Hermes Rodeo, Pegas or Buddy charms are perfect because they have no hard surfaces or sharp edges that could damage a bag. The Cadena lock that is often kept attached to the clochette, on the other hand, can easily damage a bag’s exterior. It's advised to keep it at home, or inside the bag in its own small dustbag.
Avoid Scratching the Hardware
When bags emerge from a Hermès boutique, their hardware is covered in protective plastic. Whether or not to remove this plastic at any point is an issue of debate among Hermès collectors. Though it's true that an otherwise store-fresh bag without plastic would be worth less than one with plastic, once a bag has acquired some wear, the presence of plastic on the hardware no longer affects the bag’s value. In instances of unused bags that will be stored for long periods, such as rare limited editions, it is sometimes said that leaving the plastic on long-term risks humidity getting trapped between the plastic and hardware and potentially causing the rivets to discolor faster than normal. Scratching the feet is not likely to affect an otherwise pristine bag’s value much, though some collectors opt to cover bag's feet with little rubber caps.
Keep the Interiors Clean
The most common sign of use inside a Birkin bag is what’s known as ‘press marks.’ These are little dents in the lining from things like wallets, keys or glasses bouncing around. An easy way to prevent them is to use an insert. Hermès produces handbag inserts in cotton and silk as do many other companies, often in specific sizes and colors to perfectly match specific bags. Hermès’ spa service, which refurbishes the brand’s bags, infamously will not refurbish the interiors.
Proper Storage is Essential
Proper storage is essential to maintaining a bag’s condition long-term. A bag can become permanently misshapen if it’s stored in the wrong position. Ideally Birkin bags should be loosely stuffed with tissue paper or bubble wrap and kept in their boxes and dustbags, laid on their backs with a bolster under the handles. The felt should be properly set so the sangles are kept apart from the pontets. If all of the original accouterments are not available, bags can be stored upright with the proper interior stuffing for support (be careful not to overstuff unless you are trying to reshape a misshapen bag). It is advised to fasten the sangles around the spindle without threading them through the pontets, as this will cause dents with time. Be sure your bags are stored out of sunlight and in minimal heat humidity if any.