New car? Or new Birkin?

Earlier this summer, I read Bringing Home the Birkin. Have you heard about this book? Technically classified as chick-lit, I think it’s a lot more substantive (and frankly, a lot better) than your average girl-meets-boy novel. That’s because the book — a memoir — is all about boy-meets-Birkin.

Bringing Home the Birkin chronicles the time in Michael Tonello’s life when he was living in Spain and traveled all over Europe buying Hermès Birkin handbags and then re-selling them on eBay. Hilarity (and insanity!) ensues.  I really do recommend the book. It was a fun, light read, perfect for your next vacation.

Of course, after I finished the book I had to spend more time on the Hermès website, where I familiarized myself with a lot of the “entry-level” purchases Michael would make in a retail store, all of which would eventually allow him to buy a Birkin from the salesperson (yes, ladies, it’s true — the whole “waitlist” thing from Sex and the City isn’t always the case!). I had no idea Hermès offered so many different types of products beyond accessories and handbags! But as expected, they all come at a price.

{Clockwise from top left: Pippa Folding Armchair, $10,800; Gardening Tools, $345; Avalon blanket in pumpkin, $1125; Chaîne d’ancre bracelet in sterling silver, $990}

And of course, how could anyone forget the coveted Birkin bag itself? If you want a Birkin tomorrow, one of the dealers mentioned in the book, Createurs Deluxe, has tons of Birkins for sale right this second.

Yellow Taurillon Clemence Leather Birkin, 35cm, $17,500

Black Crocodile Birkin, 35 cm, $65,000

Okay, so there are a lot of things I love about Hermès. I love the styling on a lot of their products — classic and timeless without being boring. I love the color palate of dusty neutrals and pops of bright orange and blues. But I wonder…even if I had the money, could I ever justify spending $70k on a bag? That’s a new car. A nice new car. A college education. A down payment on a house.

What do you guys think? Is Hermès fabulous enough that you’d blow nearly $11,000 on a folding chair or $4000 on a leisure bike? Or would the practical side of you never allow you to do such a thing? For most of us mere mortals, is Hermès the perennial aspirational brand?

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  1. 10.12.10
    Jen said:

    While I believe anyone can spend their money however they please, I simply cannot ken to that amount of cash for a handbag. Nope, can’t fathom it. And an $11,000 folding chair?! All that brings to mind is the old adage, “A fool and his money are soon parted.”

    Now if I happen to have tens of thousands extra dollars lying around, I’d be more inclined to snatch up some bargain priced real estate. That’s a real investment.

    • 10.13.10

      I kind of feel the same way. Even if I had bagillions in the bank, part of me would still be all, “Seriously? Seventy grand on a bag?” I think they’re gorgeous bags, but…

      I read on someone’s blog recently how they had a Birkin but had found it at an Estate sale in good condition and for CHEAP (well, relatively so). That’s the way to go if you want a Birkin — re-sale!

      To be fair too, the “base level” Birkin can be purchased for around $8k. It’s when you get into the “exotic” leathers and rare colors that the price tag goes WAY up.

  2. 10.14.10

    I knew Birkins were expensive and hard to come by, but MAN ALIVE– $70K on a stupid handbag that will inevitably get shoved under my dusty desk at work? Um, no. That is crazy town.

    • 10.14.10
      Jen said:

      Well said.