We bought this bag from a British businessman, and examined it in the dimly lit Starbucks on London’s Holland Park Avenue – these were the early days before our Mayfair showroom. I opened the box and looked at the bag, accepting his word that it was brand spanking new, but once we had bought it and received the receipt from Hermes it was clear the bag was already 3 years old. Oh the silly novices that we were!! It had not, however been worn and was the first officially pre-loved bag we had ever bought. So a great bag with which to start our reviews.
And also, and we are excited about this: this bag was used by Anne Hathaway when filming the new “Dirty Rotten Scroundrels” in Autumn 2017.
It has become one of my favourite Birkins: because the colour is classic, and because of the deep marks in the ‘legs’ running through the leather on the front. I love these striations, partly because no-one else seems to (I guess I like to be different) but mostly because they make the bag unique.
Design and practicality
So as many of you will know, the Birkin handbag has become a fashion icon. It was originally designed in the 35cm size for Jane Birkin as a roomy handbag she could use when traveling. And the 35cm is indeed roomy: this is the list of items I carry in a 35cm Birkin when travelling:
- 2 large phones
- Makeup bag
- Large wallet
- Travel documents
And I can report that it all miraculously fits in and still the bag maintains its shape.
On the outside, the Birkin is highly structured and quite boxy. The two handles are well proportioned and will allow you to carry the bag on the forearm and immediately add a certain elegance to your gait. There are two leather straps, finished in metal, which gather the leather and close over the lock in the centre of the bag. It is not however, designed to be often closed, and works well open. Because it has a flap, which partly covers the contents, it does not offer the easy access of a tote bag to passing thieves to help themselves to your contents.
The bag is made of two layers: the outer textured calf leather and an inner layer of smooth goatskin. It is therefore not always advisable to pack it full of goods as it does get heavy. We have had several customers complain of tennis elbow after years of carrying their Birkin on their forearm. Importantly, there is no shoulder strap, so you always have to have an arm available to carry the piece! This fjord leather is even more durable than the classic togo leather, and the bag will stand up with no sagging for many years. Sadly, fjord was discontinued a few years ago.
The goatskin lining is soft and pliable but extremely strong. There is an inner zip pocket on one side, which always opens seamlessly. The end of the zip features a quirky metal H which people often quote as being a sign of authenticity. The other side of the bag carries a flap pocket, useful for the occasional document. The base of the bag is wide and deep, which allows you to find items with relative ease.
There is a lock and key. I have never understood the purpose of this. Surely if someone wants access to something in your bag they just take the whole thing??! Answers on a postcard please (or on the blog!).
In conclusion, the 35 Birkin bag gets top marks for style. The extraordinary and brilliant practicality is tempered by the heavy weight and the lack of a shoulder strap.
You can see more of the bag here.