The more pristine a bag appears to its wearer, the more gauche it seems to its fans
Hermes bags were on Jenny Walton’s wish list for years before she bought one last autumn.
According to Walton, 33, the brand’s handbags will never go out of style. Depending on the model, these handbags can cost between $400 and $6,000.
One of Hermes’ most famous bags is the Birkin, but it’s not the only one. Kelly is a status symbol as well. The Birkin, an iconic handbag that has been labelled the world’s most valuable for decades, was particularly sought after.
Most of that reputation remains unchanged. Hermes bags are now available to more people through a growing resale market, but their image depends on what condition they are in, some say.
They view more pristine bags as gaucher than their wearers.
“Real Housewives have closets full, and that has a tacky appearance,” said Walton, a Milan-based illustrator.
At Resee, a designer consignment store near Paris, she bought the second-hand Kelly bag for €3,000 (S$4,300), a purplish-brown bag with gold-plated hardware. “I just like the way it looks with visible wear and tear”.
Hermès bags are used as canvasses by actress Candice Bergen. There are slashes on the edges of Julia Fox’s Birkin bag. She claimed the machete attack caused the slashes in a video on TikTok. A Kelly bag shows its age on the shoulders of novelist Danielle Steel. Mary-Kate Olsen owns a Kelly bag that is so faded that its original color is impossible to discern.
Olsen treats her bag like the overstuffed briefcase of a used-car salesman despite it costing upward of US$10,000 (S$13,500), according to Vogue.com senior fashion writer Liana Satenstein.
Despite Hermes bags always being expensive, they haven’t always been so sought after. A conversation between actress Jane Birkin, whose style the Birkin bears, and the company in 1984 led to the Birkin’s conception. Jean-Louis Dumas, then chief executive of Hermes, and I had this conversation.
During a flight from Paris to London, Birkin mentioned to the CEO that she would need a bag to carry all the children’s items.
Described by Rachel Koffsky as an excellent rain hat, Birkin’s bag is described as an excellent rain hat. The stickers and keychains Birkin used to personalize her bags were added by her.
Hermes bags are characterized by their imperfections
Originally designed for transporting saddles and riding boots, Hermes’ Haut à Courroies bag also had utilitarian origins. Christie’s auction house sold Andre Leon Talley’s visibly worn strapped bag for more than US$32,000 last month.
The 36-year-old New York art director, Ryan Reineck, paid €6,800 in 2018 for what he called “messed up” Haut à Courroies bags. Reineck said it has character and history due to its imperfections.
In his book Status And Culture, W. David Marx states that luxury goods are status symbols only if they have cachet, are associated with high-status lifestyles, and are not just displayed to mark status.
According to Marx, a person carrying a beat-up Hermes bag does not simply wear it for its brand name. The effect can be that it gives the impression that “I don’t care if it gets damaged because I don’t use it for status marking.”