How to Buy an Hermès Birkin Bag: Fashion Experts Share Their Top Tips (2024)

The trends are constantly shifting when it comes to designer bags (think the Coperni Swipe and the Bottega Veneta Sardine), but a handful of silhouettes are truly timeless and have managed to stay in demand for decades. The Hermès Birkin bag is a household name for a reason, and not just because of its notoriously high price point. These meticulously crafted bags always make a statement and can last you a lifetime—that is, if you can manage to access one, as buying a Birkin isn't as simple as waltzing into your nearest Hermès store. The good news is that given how long Birkin bags have been around, many fashion experts have some key tips that can raise your chances of getting the highly coveted item. Ahead, we spoke to two real-life Birkin owners and a Fashionphile executive to learn the best strategies on how to buy an Hermès Birkin bag, so you can spend less time trying to procure one and more time enjoying your hard-earned purchase.

Meet the Expert

  • Charles Gross is a fashion content creator who shares his knowledge on luxury topics, including Hermès Birkins and other in-demand items, with his 1.3 million TikTok followers.
  • Alex Pardoe is a hair extension artist based in Beverly Hills. His notable Hermès collection inspired his TikTok username, @birkintrash.
  • Lara Osborn is the vice president of procurement and authentication at Fashionphile, the luxury resale site with a focus on bags, accessories, jewelry, and other in-demand products.

About the Birkin Bag Selection Process

Buying a Birkin bag is more complicated than waltzing into an Hermès store with your favorite style picked out and funds at the ready, as the decision of whether or not to offer a client a bag is up to sales associates. A code name for Hermès' Birkin and Kelly styles (the Kelly is arguably just as popular and elusive) is "quota bags," which refers to the fact that accessing one often has to do with spending a certain amount to hit an unspecified quota. Still, that's not a hard rule, as some people have been offered bags with zero spending history or explanation, and others with less luck shop regularly at Hermès yet haven't been able to secure a bag.

When they've decided to offer a quota bag, the sales associate will take the client into a special room to present the handbag, then give them the option to purchase. It's an exclusive, private experience that solidifies the bag's reputation as an exclusive item for Hermès' top customers to invest thousands in to represent the brand well. While clients can make wishlists to give an idea of the bags, colors, leathers, and sizes they love most, the associate ultimately decides which bag(s) to offer, if any.

How to Get a Birkin Through a Boutique

As the aforementioned process suggests, the best way to get a Birkin is to build brand loyalty with Hermès through repeated purchases. While it's not a guarantee, investing in the luxury house's products will build a relationship and up your chances.

Luxury fashion content creator Charles Gross vividly remembers the experience of his first handbag offer at an Hermès boutique. “The wait was about two months, and then the offer came,” he shares. “They really know how to make you feel special when they offer a bag, and it sits in front of you, perfectly resting in its crisp orange box. It’s like a proposal scene in a movie. I laugh [saying] that, but it is truly that built up.”

Despite his elation, Gross is quick to note that this process is restrictive. “I love Hermès the company, the atelier, the stunning creations, and the amazing people, but their current sales architecture can unfortunately be very prohibitive and intimidating for consumers,” he says. “For something to be chic and exclusive, it does not have to be exclusionary.”

While some criticize Hermès for its approach to offering quota bags, the exclusivity was alluring to Alex Pardoe, a hair extension artist in Beverly Hills with a notable Hermès collection. “What drew me to Hermès bags in the beginning was how elusive they seemed to be, and they get you with the thrill of the chase,” he shares. “After I got my first vintage piece, I was sucked in by the exceptional craftsmanship, and I’ve been hooked ever since.”

How to Buy an Hermès Birkin Bag: Fashion Experts Share Their Top Tips (2)

Gross declined to share how many Hermès handbags he has in his collection, but Pardoe’s lineup, collected over the past seven years, makes a strong case for shopping secondhand. “Currently, I have 19 Hermès bags in my collection, and only four of those have been direct from the boutique,” he says. “I’m a big fan of the resale market.”

How to Get a Birkin Secondhand

If you're looking for a faster way to buy a Birkin bag than the long process of building a relationship with an Hermès sales associate, the resale market can provide an opportunity to make a straightforward purchase, so long as your desired style is available and you have the funds.

Fashionphile is one such site with a selection of Birkins and Kelly bags available, and Lara Osborn, the company's vice president of procurement and authentication, is well aware of the demand. “We believe in accessibility for all,” she says. “This means that we feel anyone who covets a Birkin or Kelly should have the ability to own this special piece of luxury fashion if they choose to. That being said, we highly value the craftsmanship and heritage of these designer items and take great care in expertly representing these designs. The diligence we exact when researching these items to prepare them for sale represents how highly we regard Hermès and their products.”

How to Buy an Hermès Birkin Bag: Fashion Experts Share Their Top Tips (3)

Osborn, of course, is a champion of the resale market, but she also understands customer loyalty to the Hermès boutiques. “Our clients who purchase Birkins represent all shopper cohorts, in one way or another,” she says. “Many of our clients are endeared to the Hermès brand and are often seeking a specific color/size/hardware combination that can be quite challenging to find brand new or directly from the boutique. Very often, they have been patiently waiting to be offered the bag of their dreams by their Hermès sales associate, and are pleasantly surprised to see it available at Fashionphile.”

“On the other hand, many of our clients don’t live within driving distance of an Hermès boutique or don’t have a relationship with an Hermès sales associate, so buying a Birkin is simply not possible unless it’s from the secondary market,” she continues. “Our clients represent [everyone from] the new Hermès customer who is finally buying their first Birkin to avid shoppers who are rounding out their collection.”

How Expensive Are Birkin Bags on Resale Sites?

As with any resale item, the price will vary, but generally, Birkin bags on resale sites can cost anywhere from a few thousand dollars to a few hundred thousand, depending on factors like material and level of demand. A quick browse through sites like The Real Real, Rebag, and Fashionphile gives potential shoppers an idea of how expensive a resale Hermès bag might be, but we asked Osborn for a few specifics, namely the least and most expensive Birkins listed on Fashionphile to date.

“Our most expensive Himalaya Birkins fetch well over $200,000,” says Osborn. “Currently, our most affordable Birkin available is a size 35cm in Gris Tourterelle, rated in Good condition and priced at $7155.” While that bag has since sold, the current most affordable Birkin on the site is $8500, so prepare to shell out at least $5-10,000 to secure a bag—potentially much more if you're after something specific.

Boutique vs. Resale

There are certainly more readily available options for purchasing Birkin bags on the secondhand market, but that doesn’t necessarily mean shoppers prefer it over the waiting game at Hermès boutiques. “Personally, I don’t have a preference between buying from the secondhand market or directly from the boutique,” Pardoe shares. “I love vintage and rare pieces that would be even more difficult to acquire from the boutique than, let’s say, a Togo Birkin; so resale is a great option for those pieces. And I love working with my sales associate at the boutique—they get me really cool pieces as well. My preference is really however I can get my hands on a specific bag I’m looking for.”

Gross, who works with Fashionphile on sponsored TikTok content in which he educates viewers on a myriad of luxury brands, including Hermès, is unsurprisingly a fan of shopping resale. “I love buying Hermès bags secondhand,” he says. “The secondhand market is an entirely different 'Hermès World.'”

How to Buy an Hermès Birkin Bag: Fashion Experts Share Their Top Tips (4)

Reasons to Purchase a Birkin at a Boutique

While how to buy your Birkin is ultimately up to personal preference, there are a few reasons you might choose to wait for an offer at an Hermès boutique:

  • Get the lowest price: While some go to resale sites to get a deal on the bag they’re eyeing, Hermès bags and other exclusive, high-demand items can often cost more when purchased secondhand. With the exclusivity and chase removed, the price goes up. “Everything is on the secondary market, and it’s instant. Of course, that speed and selection [often] comes with marked-up prices,” Gross elaborates. “Sometimes, [it becomes] two or three times the amount of the bag’s MSRP. How I figure it, the potential time and money spent waiting for your dream bag to come from Hermès directly translates into that markup.” Pardoe is also transparent about how much more expensive a quota bag can be when you purchase it secondhand.
  • Ensure the best quality: Pardoe says other reasons you might choose to go the boutique route for buying your Birkin include guaranteed authenticity and receiving your bag in perfect, brand-new condition. “Store fresh! There’s nothing like that new Birkin smell,” he says.

Why to Opt for Resale

Despite the fact that factors like price, experience, and quality lead many to prefer buying Birkin bags in Hermès boutiques, opting for resale can often be a preferable option as well, especially for the following reasons:

  • Secure a bag more easily: “It’s so rare that you’ll be offered a bag on the first, second, or even fifth trip to the store—you have to play the waiting game,” Pardoe says. Even then, the handbag you’re offered may not be one you’re dying to buy. “The bag you’re offered might not be the exact color, size, hardware, or leather of your dreams. It absolutely can be, but you might have to wait even longer to get the exact dream combo.”
  • Find an exact style: Over on the secondhand market, Pardoe loves that he can find exactly what he’s looking for. Still, he does note that you should be wary of authenticity concerns as well as the aforementioned price surges. “Replicas are getting crazy good,” he warns. “You have to work with a really reputable company to make sure the bag you’re paying this much for is the real deal.”

The Final Takeaway

When it comes to securing your very first Birkin bag, Pardoe has a “might as well” approach to attempting an in-store buy at an Hermès boutique first over skipping to shopping secondhand. “I’d recommend trying to build a relationship with a sales associate to get your first bag if you’re interested in the brand itself, and not just the bags,” he says. “Hermès makes a lot of wonderful bespoke items that are so beautiful, but if your only goal is the bag, I’d recommend the secondhand market. Pay the premium to get the bag you want if you’re not interested in anything else Hermès has to offer.”

There are certainly benefits to buying both in-store and via resale, but regardless, one thing is certain: The Birkin is perhaps the only eternal it-bag in fashion. “The Birkin is a status symbol for exclusivity, luxury and refined taste,” Osborn says. “Its simple design and superior craftsmanship, combined with the difficulty of obtaining one directly from the designer, are ingredients in the perfect recipe for a holy grail bag.”

How to Buy an Hermès Birkin Bag: Fashion Experts Share Their Top Tips (2024)

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