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Designer Backstory

Emile-Maurice Hermès, grandson of founder Thierry Hermès, summed up the philosophy of his family’s celebrated firm in the 1920s as “Leather, sport, and a tradition of refined elegance.” Passed down over generations, the House of Hermès has been committed to quality in design and production for more than 160 years. At the dawn of the 21st century, the name Hermès continues to represent the ultimate in French luxury.

Founded in 1837 by Thierry Hermès, the namesake brand that began as a harness workshop in the Grands Boulevard quarter of Paris has become one of the most iconic haute couture houses.

Their most well-known product is arguably the Birkin, and the origins of its creation are perhaps as famous as the bag itself. A chance encounter at 30,000 feet between Jean-Louis Dumas, the then chief executive of Hermès, and actress Jane Birkin in 1983 saw the initial design for the Birkin bag sketched onto an Air France napkin. That sketch led to the production of the most sought-after bag on the planet, with people waiting for up to two years to be given the chance to purchase one.

The bag was designed for, and named after, the iconic actress and has been a must-have among the fashion elite ever since. However, this popular bags production has been highly limited to maintain its unattainable aura. In recent years, Hermès have actively been taking extra measures in scaling back production. It has been reported that you may wait as long as six years to get your hands on a Birkin bag directly from a boutique. The long wait is perhaps due to the time taken to create a single bag – it is rumoured to take one atelier around 48 hours to handcraft.
The Special Order Birkin is more exclusive still, with Hermès inviting a select number of clients globally to decide upon their choice of colours, leathers and hardware for their new bag. This Special Order Birkin is crafted in a striking blue hydra exterior with a contrasting gris mouette interior in luxurious chevre mysore leather. In unworn condition, this piece is immaculate and without initials.

At Xupes we know that purchasing a pre-owned handbag online can be daunting. We aim to make your experience as seamless as possible, alleviating any concerns you may have when purchasing your handbag online with us. You can be assured that every item is carefully selected for our collection and is checked by our experienced in-house specialists to ensure authenticity. All of our items are precisely described and complete with studio images, meaning you can shop with complete confidence. Our commitment to excellent customer service and our in-house expertise ensure you an unforgettable experience when shopping with us. This experience continues after you receive your item, with our team of handbag experts on hand to provide advice on caring for your purchase.

A rare and exceptional, Matte Himalaya Niloticus crocodile diamond Birkin 35 with 18k white gold & diamond hardware sold for £236,750 in December 2018. (Image: Christie’s)

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LONDON [UK]: Hermès Birkin, one of the world’s most expensive handbags in the world, has been sold at USD 206,111 at a Christie’s auction here.

The 2015 Himalaya niloticus crocodile Birkin 35 crossed the predicted price of 114,162 to 88,793 USD. With this, the bag has become the second most expensive handbag, reported Telegraph.

Named after the actor and singer Jane Birkin, Birkin bags are extremely expensive. Even the title for the most expensive bag is held by the company. The Matte Himalaya Niloticus Crocodile Birkin 35 with 18k White Gold and Diamond Hardware was sold at USD 300,322 in 2018.

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A Beethoven Manuscript

30 Nov, 2017In 2016, Sotheby’s had a manuscript by Ludwig van Beethoven up for auction. The single-page manuscript was described as the “Autograph manuscript of the ‘Allegretto’ in B minor for string quartet (WoO 210), composed for an English visitor to Vienna in 1817”. It has the words “composed and written by Beethoven himself November 29, 1817 at Vienna” inscribed on it. The manuscript was expected to fetch about 200,000 pounds. The auction house made a statement that there were no takers because of a Beethoven scholar’s claim that the manuscript was not authentic. Image: Sotheby’sNext

“We are delighted with the results of today’s handbags and accessories auction, which reflects the maturing market for handbags around the world,” said Rachel Koffsky, Christie’s head of handbags and accessories in London.

“With a full saleroom, a packed phonebank, and bidding from across the globe, the auction demonstrates the international demand for collectable and rare handbags,” he added.

Bidders from around 41 countries took part in the auctions hosted by famous- British auction house, Christie, on Tuesday.

Other items on sale that received well over their expected price included a 2017 Chanel black lucite and crystal rocket ship evening bag.

Why collectors are in thrall to the extraordinary craftsmanship behind the creation of the ultimate bag — illustrated with bags offered at Christie’s

The ravishing Hermès Himalaya Birkin Bag is considered the Holy Grail in a Handbag collection, while the Himalaya Kelly is fabled as ‘The Rarest Handbag in the World’. How did this handbag achieve such cachet? The answer lies in the construction of this wearable work of art, a striking blend of superlative design with fabulous materials.

A rare, matte gris cendré Himalaya Niloticus Crocodile Diamond Birkin 30 with 18k white gold & diamond hardware. Hermès, 2013. Estimate HK$1,000,000-$1,500,000. Offered in Handbags & Accessories Summer 2020 at Christie’s in Hong Kong.

A rare, matte gris cendré Himalaya Niloticus Crocodile Diamond Birkin 30 with 18k white gold & diamond hardware. Hermès, 2013. Estimate: HK$1,000,000-$1,500,000. Offered in Handbags & Accessories Summer 2020 at Christie’s in Hong Kong.

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  • A gradation that resembles the majestic, snow-capped Himalayas

The Himalaya Birkin is crafted from Nile crocodile hide. The designation ‘Himalaya’ does not apply to the origin of the bag, but rather to the delicate gradation of the colour. The smoky grey fades into a pearly white, resembling the majestic, snow-capped Himalayas. The process of dyeing a crocodile hide is time-consuming and exponentially more difficult as the shades lighten — to create the immaculate white of the snow and the gradation to rocky grey requires great skill and a fine eye.

Find out more about our updated online sales calendar

A rare, matte white Himalaya Niloticus Crocodile Birkin 30 with palladium hardware, Hermès, 2014. Estimate HK$600,000-$800,000. Offered in Handbags & Accessories Summer 2020 at Christies in Hong Kong.

A rare, matte white Himalaya Niloticus Crocodile Birkin 30 with palladium hardware, Hermès, 2014. Estimate: HK$600,000-$800,000. Offered in Handbags & Accessories Summer 2020 at Christie’s in Hong Kong.

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  • The ultimate expression of artistry

The finished product is wondrous to behold. Marrying precious materials and craftsmanship with the Hermès equestrian heritage, the Himalaya Birkin is the ultimate expression of the artistry and tradition of the storied Hermès House.

A rare, matte white Himalaya Niloticus Crocodile Birkin 30 with palladium hardware, Hermès, 2019. 30 w x 22 h x 15 d cm. Estimate $80,000-100,000. Offered in Handbags & Accessories Online on 11 June 2020 at Christie’s in New York.

A rare, matte white Himalaya Niloticus Crocodile Birkin 30 with palladium hardware, Hermès, 2019. 30 w x 22 h x 15 d cm. Estimate: $80,000-100,000. Offered in Handbags & Accessories Online on 11 June 2020 at Christie’s in New York.

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  • A collecting phenomenon

The introduction of the original series of Himalaya Birkins spawned a collecting phenomenon. Handbag collectors around the world recognised the rarity and exquisite craftsmanship behind the Himalaya. Consequently, in a resounding response to the appetite of collectors, Hermès began to craft a limited number Himalaya Kelly bags for top clients. 

A rare, matte white Himalaya Niloticus Crocodile Retourné Kelly 32 with palladium hardware, Hermès, 2014. Sold for £100,000 on 12 June 2017 at Christie’s in London

A rare, matte white Himalaya Niloticus Crocodile Retourné Kelly 32 with palladium hardware, Hermès, 2014. Sold for £100,000 on 12 June 2017 at Christie’s in London

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  • The Himalaya Kelly

Produced in the most limited of numbers, the Himalaya Kelly is a perfect marriage of the subtle gradation of the Himalaya and the elegance of the Kelly. The Himalaya Kelly is both an heirloom and a work of art.

A matte Himalaya Niloticus Crocodile Plume 28 with palladium hardware, Hermès, 2016. 28 w x 20 h x 10 d cm. Price on request. Offered for Private Sale at Christie’s

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  • The most desirable handbag in existence

In 2016, Christie’s 30th Anniversary Hong Kong auction sold a Himalaya Birkin bag with white gold and diamond hardware for an auction world record price of $300,168. 

In May 2017, Christie’s in Hong Kong again broke the world record for the most expensive bag ever sold at auction when a white crocodile Hermès Himalaya encrusted with 10.23 carats of diamonds realised £293,000. An exceptional matte white Himalaya Niloticus Crocodile Diamond Birkin 30 with 18K white gold & diamond hardware, Hermès, 2014. 30 x 22 x 15 cm. Sold for HK$2,940,000 on 31 May 2017 at Christie’s in Hong Kong

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In June 2018, a Himalaya Birkin with an 18-carat, white gold, diamond-encrusted lock sold for £162,500 at Christie’s London, becoming the most expensive handbag ever in a European auction. On 12 December 2018 in London, this was broken with a rare and exceptional Matte Himalaya Niloticus crocodile diamond Birkin 35 with 18k white gold and diamond hardware, made by Hermès in 2010, which fetched £236,750.

These incredible results solidify what handbag collectors worldwide already know — the Diamond Himalaya bag is the most desirable handbag in existence.

The most famous bag the brand makes – the Birkin – takes its name from British-French actress, singer and model Jane Birkin.

The mum-of-three was on a short flight from Paris to London in 1983.

It’s said Jane dropped her belongings and complained to the man she sat next to, who turned out to be Jean-Louis Dumas, chairman of the Hermès group.

He promised to make her a bag that would suit her needs, and the infamous design was created.

On the company’s website, it details their chance encounter, saying: “It didn’t take long for the conversation to take off between the two sharp-witted seatmates.

“When Jane dropped her Hermès diary, scattering a flurry of papers, her gentlemanly neighbor came to her aid.

“She grumbled that diaries were never able to hold all of her bits of paper and bags never had enough pockets!

“He introduced himself and promised, while he couldn’t revolutionize her diaries, he could at least have her dream bag made for her in his workshops.

“She explained what she wanted. He took notes and stepped off the plane with a preliminary sketch.

“They met up in the workshop, where the craftsmen took care of the rest.”

As the Birkin is one of the most sought after bags, you can’t buy one online via the official shop.

Instead you need to go in store, where each one will have a small stock available, but you can’t simply pick one off the shelf.

 Someone can be on a waiting list for years before they get a Birkin
Someone can be on a waiting list for years before they get a Birkin

Often it takes contacts, brand loyalty, and a lot of cash before you can get your hands on a bag – and time.

The internet is filled with countless tales of women ecstatic the day they get the call telling them they are ready for a Birkin.

And if you have expensive taste, or a certain look in mind, the waiting lists for Birkins can be years, as the creators source the necessary materials to make a bespoke bag.

A testament to their cost and durability, there is aftercare available for minor repairs and wear and tear, and a Hermès Spa, in Paris, where bags go for major repair.

This means often bags are heirlooms, passed down through generations.

They often appreciate in value, adding to their desirability.

The cheapest a Birkin sells for is around £5,000, and their price goes up to the hundreds of thousands.

 The bag is popular with celebrities who often personalise theirs
The bag is popular with celebrities who often personalise theirs
 Kim is a HUGE fan of Hermès. Like all of her sisters, she is rarely seen without one of the expensive totes
Kim is a HUGE fan of Hermès. Like all of her sisters, she is rarely seen without one of the expensive totesCredit: Splash News

What’s the most expensive one ever sold?

Not just in the Hermès collection, but the most expensive bag ever sold – of all brands – is a Birkin.

Specifically, it’s the matte white Diamond Himalaya Niloticus crocodile diamond Birkin 30 with 18k white gold and diamond hardware – featuring more than 240 of the precious stones.

In Hermès shorthand, it’s a H30 GHW.

It was sold in 2016 by a private Asia collector at Christie’s auction in Hong Kong, and fetched a staggering £253,700 ($380,000).

In a press release ahead of the sale, Christies said: “The diamond pieces created by Hermes are exceptional, but none are nearly as iconic as the Himalaya.

“It is believed that only one or two of the Diamond Himalayas are produced each year, globally, making it one of the lowest production runs for handbags.”

It remains the most expensive bag ever sold, surpassing the previous record for a bag of £166,344, set in 2015.

That was a Hermès Birkin too, but a fuchsia crocodile skin Birkin, studded with 18-carat white gold and diamond hardware.

In 2018 another Hermès Himalaya set the European record for most expensive bag sold.

The 10-year-old bag sold for £162,500, smashing predictions it would fetch £100,000 – £150,000.

 This is a Matte White Himalaya Niloticus Crocodile Birkin 30 with Palladium Hardware
This is a Matte White Himalaya Niloticus Crocodile Birkin 30 with Palladium HardwareCredit: Christies

How many versions are there?

The Hermès Himalaya gets its name not from the region, but rather how the colour of the bag matches the colour scheme of the mountain range.

There are a few versions of the exclusive bag, and it comes in the two most recognisable designs, the Birkin and the Kelly.

They come in a range of sizes too, and their hardware is either palladium (PHW), gold, Guilloche or brushed gold (GHW).

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