The Original Hermès Birkin 35
The original bag made for Jane Birkin in 1984 was the Hermès Birkin 35. The iconic Birkin was initially only made in two sizes, the more popular Birkin 35 and larger Birkin 40. In 1996, a smaller Birkin 30 was introduced and then in 2004, an even smaller Birkin 25. While hard to believe today, the Birkin wasn't an instant success. Demand didn't take off until the mid-to-late 1990s at the beginning of the "It Bag" era. According to the Encyclopedia of Clothing and Fashion by Valerie Steele the Birkin's waiting list tripled after the Sex and the City episode. In 2001, the Birkin 35 starred in a Sex in the City episode where the character Samantha Jones famously gave us “It’s not a bag. It’s a Birkin”.
Since its inception in 1984, the Birkin 35 has been considered the ‘standard’ size, and until 2015 it was more than just standard, the Birkin 35 was ‘it.’ As trends switched towards smaller bags, the Birkin 35 fell out of favor with many collectors, but its fans never lost their love of the ‘OG’ Birkin. During the past five years the Birkin 30 and Birkin 25 have been the most popular sizes with buyers as evidenced by rapidly rising prices for these sizes on marketplaces like Sotheby's. A pristine "store fresh" leather Birkin 30 or Birkin 25 sells for $25,000-$30,000 more than 2x the retail of $10,400 for a Togo Birkin 25 and $11,600 for a Togo Birkin 30.
Big Bags are Back
One major trend on the 2023 runways was the return of the over-sized bag and tote. Prior to the pandemic bags got smaller and more impractical year after year. Layering micro bags became a new trend as most bags could barely fit a phone inside. But the pendulum appears to be moving the other direction with the return of the bigger bag. From a purely practical perspective, returning to the office means totes or larger carryall have become a necessity again. This shift has also driven renewed interest in the Birkin 35. The iconic Birkin 35 is the most timeless carry all that is large enough for a laptop, tablet and all of your other daily essentials. For its size it is the perfect combination of structured and slouchy.
Quiet Luxury and the Neutral Birkin 35
Quiet Luxury as defined by Elle Magazine is new-age minimalism with a larger focus on investment pieces and thoughtful shopping habits. Everyone is talking about quiet luxury as the biggest trend of 2023. An aesthetic focused on neutral colors, logo free designs, elevated basics and designs that stand the test of time. The Birkin 35 in neutral Togo leather is the ultimate quiet luxury bag. Practical in size, logo free and timeless since 1984. Instantly recognizable to its fans and collectors but lacking any obvious Brand logos. The larger Birkin 35 merges quiet luxury and a return of the big bag.
Limited Edition Birkin 35
There are several Limited Edition Birkin bags that were only made in the Birkin 35 size. The newest Limited Edition is the Birkin 35 FrayFray was released in Summer of 2021. The Hermès Birkin Fray consists of a Twill H cotton canvas body that extends all the way to the edge and is sealed complete with a Sellier stitch. The mini-fringing on the edges of the Birkin 35 Fray Fray is the bag’s stand-out detail, accentuating the Swift leather and Palladium hardware. Another recent Birkin 35 Limited Edition released in 2020 is the Sunrise and Sunset Birkin 35 in Sellier with palladium hardware. Other Limited Edition Birkin 35 include the Birkin 35 Surf, Birkin 35 Riga Toile and the Birkin 35 Dechainee.
How much is a Birkin 35
How much is a Birkin 35 depends on many factors. A Togo leather Birkin 35 retails for $13,500 and resells for between $10,000 to $20,000 depending on the condition and color. When the Birkin was first introduced in the 1980s it retailed for $2,000. So far in 2023 we’ve seen auction prices for Birkin 35 bags, in Leather, Crocodile, Alligator and Ostrich, all ticking upward. In leather, the Birkin 35 has increased over 34% so far this year, compared with results spanning 2022. Average auction prices have so far realized an average of just over $16,400 as of this writing. This now eclipses the average price for Ostrich Birkin 35, which rose over 5% to $16,350. In Hong Kong, a Hermès Birkin 35 Fringe sold for over $74,000. Sotheby's Buy Now marketplace is also seeing Birkin 35 bags sell at much faster velocity with some basic neutral Birkin 35 bags in Togo leather selling within days of listing. Prices for Birkin 35 bags still aren't as high as the Birkin 30 or Birkin 25, but we anticipate the Birkin 35 price in the secondary market will continue to tend higher.