Archive | Birkin Bag Blog

Handbag Prices reduced to celebrate our sponsorship of the LAPADA Charity Party.

Lilac Blue London, one of the foremost specialist luxury handbag boutiques in London, is raising money for type 1 Diabetes and is dropping prices on key bags.

Every Monday for the next 3 weeks a new range of Hermes and Chanel bags will be offered at amazing prices.  This week: exotic skins: ostrich and crocodile Hermes, Kellies and Chanel.

Then join us on 17 September at LAPADA in Berkeley Square where we will be auctioning a brand new Black Birkin 35cm…..

The Brexit political turmoil has lowered the UK currency substantially.  So bags are nearly at prices you will find AT HERMES in some countries.

For the first time, you can choose exactly which bag you would like, at a price close to that at Hermes, without having to buy Hermes scarves, jewellery or cashmere…. AND enjoy the wonderful Lilac Blue customer service.

Buy one of these extraordinary pieces and know that 25% of our profit will go to the JDRF charity, to help find a cure for juvenile Type 1 Diabetes.

Birkin 25 in Black Shiny Crocodile with Silver hardware at £40,000

Birkin 30 Rouge Hermes and Burgundy ‘Ghillies’ limited edition in Matte Crocodile £38,000

Kelly 28 in Malachite Green Matte Alligator £46,000

HAC 50 Saffron in Ostrich – reconditioned vintage and a very unusual piece £40,000

 

Kelly Pochette in Aubergine Shiny Crocodile £21,000

Hermes Date Stamps – A Guide

Why check a date stamp?
Purchasing a genuine Hermes bag is a process which can be difficult – there are a lot of inauthentic bags out there, and the people making those bags are always looking at ways to deceive prospective buyers. Hermes is unusual in that they do not issue certificates of authentication, unlike other leading brands like Chanel. The Hermes use of date stamps is one way to help ensure that the bag you buy is genuine – it should not be used as the only method, but an understanding of how the date stamp works will help you. It is always advisable to use an experienced and trusted reseller of Hermes handbags – Lilac Blue London has years of experience in identifying genuine bags and is always happy to help.

What is the date Stamp and where is it found?
Each bag is marked with a date or blind stamp which are codes embedded in the leather indicating both the year of manufacture and the identity of the artisan who created the bag. Between 1945 and 1971 it was just the letter on its own but from 1971 to 2014 the letters were enclosed either in a circle or a square. These stamps were always located on the back of the closure strap but they can now be found close to the back flap, on the left side.

Stamps denoting exotic leathers
In addition to the date stamp, there are additional symbols to indicate different leathers, for example alligator is an empty square, porosus crocodile is ˄ , nilocitus crocodile is  , and lizard is . If you are buying a Special Order bag this will be shown by a Horseshoe stamp next to the Hermes logo on the inside – hence the description HSS on some Special Order bags.

Examples of where to find the date stamp  

A pre 2015 Birkin show the location of the stamp on the reverse of the closure strap.

A 2018 Birkin with the stamp now on the inside of the bag.

 

 

The exotic skin symbols: 

Alligator, Nilo Croc & Lizard

 

 

Horseshoe Stamp denoting a Special Order Bag

 

 

 

Hermes date stamps since 1945:

No Shape Circle Square No Square & inside flap
1945 A 1971 A 1997 A 2015 T
1946 B 1972 B 1998 B 2016 X
1947 C 1973 C 1999 C 2017 A
1948 D 1974 D 2000 D 2018 C
1949 E 1975 E 2001 E
1950 F 1976 F 2002 F
1951 G 1977 G 2003 G
1952 H 1978 H 2004 H
1953 I 1979 I 2005 I
1954 J 1980 J 2006 J
1955 K 1981 K 2007 K
1956 L 1982 L 2008 L
1957 M 1983 M 2009 M
1958 N 1984 N 2010 N
1959 O 1985 O 2011 O
1960 P 1986 P 2012 P
1961 Q 1987 Q 2013 Q
1962 R 1988 R 2014 R
1963 S 1989 S
1964 T 1990 T
1965 U 1991 U
1966 V 1992 V
1967 W 1993 W
1968 X 1994 X
1969 Y 1995 Y
1970 Z 1996 Z

If you require any help in understanding the Hermes date stamp, or would like some advice on authenticating a bag, then please get in touch with Lilac Blue London either via email: contact@lilacblue.com or telephone: +44 (0)845 224 8876.

images from Lilac Blue London, Bagsnob, Portero & Bags of Luxury

Why Buy a Hermes Bag? As an investment of course!

In Miami in 2016 a handbag sold for $298,000 (approximately £205,000).  A simple handbag.  Hailed as the most expensive handbag ever to sell, it was a Hermes Birkin made in bright red shiny crocodile with white gold straps encrusted with 10 carats of diamonds.    It was purchased in 2008 for half the price but never worn.   This June  a 2008 Himalaya Birkin, which features a diamond-encrusted 18k white gold lock, sold for £162,500, a price that exceeded the £155,000 paid for a navy Croc Birkin in 2017, both sold by Christie’s.

What was once considered an attractive accessory has turned into one of the world’s most lucrative investments.     Even ten years into the phenomenon, the trend continues to amaze people.

There are a number of reasons for the phenomenon.   If you consider other relatively new investment vehicles – wine, watches, and classic cars – they are all now accepted as alternative investment pieces, and are often highly profitable.   Now the once modest handbag has joined the club of these ‘passion assets’.  In general, they have become worthy investments through finite supply:  like a bottle of Romanee Conti or a limited edition Patek Philippe.    And as the world moves to more highly automated systems and machine-made goods, an awareness of the higher quality of handmade products has emerged.

The prices of classic cars started to rise in the 1990s.  An appreciation of the highly skilled workmanship, coupled with the romance and challenge of the gearstick, started to appeal to North American and then to European markets.   Cars outperformed the global stock market between 2005 and 2016.  Just this year, the 1957 Ferrari 335 S Spider Scaglietti sold for a record breaking £24.7m.

The story is similar these days with vintage bags.  On a smaller, more manageable scale.

30cm Mykonos Birkin in Ostrich with Palladium Hardware

Mrs Thompson in Battersea, London, hadn’t worn her 1985 Hermes Kelly in ostrich leather more than twice.   Clearing through her wardrobe one rainy November afternoon she came across it and approached Lilac Blue London to value and sell it.   We estimate the bag cost her £550 in 1985.    It has just been sold at £12,000.

35cm Graphite Kelly in Shiny Croc with Palladium Hardware

Or Mrs Mills in Suffolk, who had a collection of Hermes handbags bought in Las Vegas in 2000.  Her 35cm black crocodile Kelly was recently sold at £17,000.  The cost 16 years ago would have been approximately £5,000.

As the Times London explained: “Consider the following: in the 35 years since it was created, the value of the Hermes Birkin has gone up by 500 percent. That’s a better return on investment than gold or the stock market…. Why has this happened? In a nutshell, because even if you can afford them, they’re incredibly difficult to buy.”

In essence the bag itself has become a loved and cherished item, and at the same time handbags have become status symbols.  So combined together, these factors have turned an everyday accessory into a powerful investment piece.

So while older and vintage bags can be sold at high prices, New Hermes Birkin and Kelly bags sell at a premium of up to 100% because buying them is a serious challenge.   There are no more waiting lists in the UK: Hermes could not deal with the queues waiting outside the Bond Street store on the days the waiting list would open.   So to buy a bag takes serious application, patience, and expenditure on other goods in the store, and as a result, it becomes extremely desirable.

Then there is the new phenomenon of the handbag as a status symbol.

Historically, Europeans would buy one lovely handbag on a very special occasion.     So a lady had one or perhaps two luxurious handbags that she could hand down.    European royalty collected handbags: the Queen has a wonderful collection of Launer handbags.  But mere mortals would only have a few pieces.    Then, over the last 20 years, the popularity of handbags has grown in general, and as Hollywood A-listers started building collections of Hermes and Chanel bags, it became acceptable for well-heeled ladies to build collections of their most cherished accessories, and Hermes is at the very top of the list of luxury houses.

The Mastery of Hermes

How has Hermes managed to stay at the top, in creating the most desired handbag the world has ever known?   There is no doubt that this was never planned.  In no time in fashion history has a handbag achieved such status. But Hermes has harnessed and managed the situation extraordinarily well.   In order to increase the desirability of the bags, the iconic French brand limits the production of certain models.  They claim that only the finest artisans are able to create the Kelly and Birkin handbags, and with each bag taking up to 25 hours to make, they are unable to keep up with the demand.  With resellers selling the bags at vast premiums, Hermes is able to increase prices year on year, up to 10% per annum.  The classic Birkin 35cm is now just over £7,000 in a Hermes boutique.

What must not be overlooked is that this phenomenon could never have taken place without the creation of extremely beautiful products.   The style of Hermes bags is generally classic: the Kelly is a relatively formal bag which works extremely well at formal occasions.   The Birkin is a more practical piece; the size 35cm can hold enormous amounts (I have carried a laptop, travel documents and an ipad in one) but has no shoulder strap.

The handbags are created with the best leathers, in the best tanneries, and in a range of colours that no other luxury house can begin to achieve.    This Bleu Paradis limited edition Kelly from 2016 is one of 8 different shades of blue produced by Hermes in the last 5 years.

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How to get your hands on one

If you are looking to buy a bag, first you should try your nearest Hermes boutique.  If you look beautiful and elegant enough, you may be given the chance to buy directly, if there happens to be one available.  If you would rather be able to choose the size, colour and leather, you might want to try a reseller.  Just make sure they are reputable and you can meet them before sending any funds. To buy a bag for an investment, see our article ‘how to choose an investment piece’.

How to Choose an Hermes Bag as an Investment

If you have decided on making an investment in a handbag, the next issue will be how best to buy a piece, and where. Our advice is spend time and money in an Hermes boutique, dress and accessorise to impress, and be prepared to return every day for a week. Or two or three weeks. And be aware that if you do get the chance to buy a Birkin or Kelly, you will be given one option only; you cannot choose your colour or leather. Should you declare the bag unsuitable for you, there is little likelihood of being offered another model. So the alternative is to buy from a well reputed reseller or auction house.

When choosing the ideal investment, the first consideration should be the timelessness of the piece. You need a size and a model that is always going to be popular. And if you are worried about what makes an item popular, consider the usefulness of the bag. A handbag that is easy to wear now is likely to be highly wearable in 5 or 25 years’ time.

The item should be in very good condition. It can be used, but make sure there are no tears or cracks in the leather. Zips should work seamlessly after many decades. Classic colours and models are super, as they will be recognised in years to come, and limited editions and bright colours will fetch higher returns in a connoisseur market.

32cm Bordeaux and Sanguine Horse Shoe Kelly in Shiny Nilocitus with GoldHandbag sizes vary year to year, so investing in a wearable, mid-range size is advisable. In terms of leather, the most desirable right now is the very expensive crocodile (a Hermes Birkin crocodile in size 35cm is currently above £40,000 in the store, but only VIP clients are allowed to buy one, and that can take years of investment in other Hermes goods…). 35cm Saffron Birkin in Ostrich Gold wmBut crocodile bags are fragile and need care and attention, so are not for all of us. My favourite is the ostrich, which is ridiculously hard wearing and maintains its shape, but seen less and less these days, which could make it a good investment piece.

Hermes produces calf leather bags in numerous varieties: the best known is togo, which is natural young bull calf leather. It is pebbled and scratch proof, but some of the bags in this leather will sag over time, giving it a more casual look. Epsom is very popular in Asia, because it retains its shape for many years. It is a stamped leather, so not as resilient as the togo. Other varieties are taurillon clemence, which is pebbled like the togo but softer, and swift leather – currently used for smaller bags – which is very soft and smooth. Swift leather will scratch, but many of the marks can be removed. It’s always worth remembering that these leathers are all of extremely good quality and durable, so can be cleaned at home. If you a little hesitant about scrubbing your treasured piece, bring it to us for gentle cleaning, or take the bag to Hermes and put it into the spa. They will clean it and spruce it up amazingly, at a very reasonable cost.

And finally, perhaps most importantly, buy a bag you like. It is after all, a passion asset, so make sure you are at least fond of the item. In terms of maintenance, decide whether the bag is to be worn or carefully kept in a pristine condition. In either case, make sure you look after it. We see bags which have been thrown into the back of a closet for years, and kept crumpled under shoes and boots. Even the very strongest leathers will begin to alter in shape after months or years of reshaping.

The best places to buy are reputable resellers and auction houses. London, Paris, New York and Hong Kong have a selection. Europe probably has the most reputable and reliable selection. You should really try to see the item before bidding. There are online authentication services which can provide guidelines and help on what you are buying, but beware, authenticating through photographs is not always completely reliable. It is always best to visit premises and meet the people who are going to sell or examine your bag.

Happy Shopping.

Lilac Blue London Ltd
www.lilacblue.com

Lilac Blue London introduces a new line – Llora

2018 is Lilac Blue London’s 10 year handbag anniversary! We sold our first Hermès bag in 2008.  And we’ve now been in Mayfair for 8 years.

So we thought, finally, it is time we found a new brand worthy of your attention.  We have chosen Llora handbags.

Llora handbags is a Singaporean brand creating exquisite crocodile handbags and clutches.  The craftsmanship is just beautiful, the designs exciting and elegant.  The brand has a core following in the Far East, opened in the United States in October, and has just arrived in London this month.

The designer, Ling Fu, born in Indonesia and based in Singapore, spends 6-8 months painstakingly perfecting each model prior to manufacture. The crocodile skins are bought in Asia and the bags manufactured in Italy, and she has made sure each skin is as flat as possible, so the bag never bulges. And then the metalware is really stunning, when closely examined. The steel is galvanised (coated) three times more than any other luxury brand. It looks like the metalware you see on luxury yachts, and means that it will last as long as the leather, which is unheard until now in the world of handbags.

This season, some of the bags are finished with semi precious stones, like malachite, lapis lazuli and tourmaline. These stones are worked on in Florence in the same workshop that deals with Christian Dior, Bulgari and Fendi.

We are very excited to be working with Llora and invite you to come and see the collection in Vigo Street, Mayfair.

Click here to preview the bags online.

Hermes Kelly Picnic – Good enough to eat?

I was researching material for our Instagram feed recently – Lilac Blue London – and came across these fabulous images from an Hermes campaign created to celebrate their new Kelly Picnic.

The Limited Edition Kelly Picnic, a typically quirky Hermes design is, if you are unfamiliar with it, a twist on the traditional picnic hamper.  The body of the bag is made from woven wicker whilst the flap is made from Barenia leather; the Palladium hardware and closure is the same as that of any Kelly.  Although I don’t recommend you actually use it as a picnic basket, it’s still a great bag and adds a little fun to a summery outfit – if you can find one that is!

 

 

The Hermes Constance – still going strong after all these years

At almost 60 years old, you’d think that the Hermes Constance handbags design might look a little out of date, or old fashioned but no, it’s still going strong and is going through a surge in popularity.  Over the last two years rumours of it being discontinued have abounded, (as they have for the famous Himalaya Birkin handbag), but instead of it being discontinued, we are seeing more models of it being designed and released.  Favoured by Jackie Onassis back in the 1960’s, the Hermes Constance can be seen carried by actress Diane Kruger, the socialite Nicky Hilton and the former Mrs Abramovich, Dasha Zhukova amongst several others.

The simple and elegant design of the Hermes Constance features the iconic H clasp on the front flap, and a long leather strap which can also be doubled to carry the bag in the hand.  The Constance has been the subject of a few minor redesigns  over the years, but the sleek lines and distinctive curves have been maintained and the bag has lost none of its appeal.  It is the most complicated of the Hermes bags to make, with an intricate design, and as a result the price is more than you would expect for a small Hermes bag, at €7,000 for a standard 24cm calf leather.

18cm Vert Titien Hermes Mini Constance in Ostrich with Gold Hardware

Particularly popular at the moment is the Constance Mini which measures 18cm by 15cm by 4cm.  It’s just big enough to carry all your daytime essentials as long as you travel light, and small enough to make a neat little evening bag.  Lilac Blue London currently have available a lovely selection of this cute bag – a bright Orange Poppy in Swift Leather with Gold Hardware. There’s an even brighter Bamboo Constance in Swift Leather with Palladium Hardware, an unusual Bleu Atoll in Veau Doblis with Palladium Hardware and a very chic Vert Titien in Ostrich with Gold Hardware.

Hermes Constance 24 “On a Summer Day”

The next size up is the 24cm by 15cm x 5cm, not much larger but possibly a little more practical as a daytime bag.  The amazing On A Summer Day is a Special Edition Constance featuring a super bright geometric design from Nigel Peake, an architect by training whose print has also featured in the Ready to Wear Collection from Spring/Summer 2017.  If you like carrying bags that get you noticed then this is certainly worth considering!  A little more sober, but no less unusual is the Origan Constance in Evercolour, a dark neutral shade teamed with Palladium Hardware which is very hard to find.

In 2010 Hermes offered  a slightly longer and slimmer version, the Constance Elan, measuring 25cm x 14cm x 8cm which has the look more of a clutch bag than a shoulder bag.  It’s particularly hard to find but there are occasionally preloved bags available.

Vintage Hermes Constance Elan in Black Silk with Gold Hardware

If you’re a lover of Hermes Vintage, then how about this absolutely beautiful Constance Elan in black silk with Gold Hardware?  Carry this and you will, without doubt feel like Jackie O!

Optique Constance in Black Veau Monsieur

A brand new model this month has the optique clasp, an enamelled multi coloured highly-textured clasp, which Hermes traditionally used on bracelets.  Another lovely aspect of this Optique Constance is the new leather being used for it: it’s called Veau Monsieur, which we are calling Gentleman’s Calfskin.  You have to love the translation.

Do get in touch if you’d like more information on the Hermes Constance, Hermes Birkin or Hermes Kelly, or arrange to come and visit our Mayfair Showroom, close to Bond Street, Regent Street and Piccadilly.

Please either email us at contact@lilacblue.com or call us on +44 (0)845 224 8876

 

Hermes Mini Bolide

A lot of people are intimidated by the idea of buying the better known Hermes Birkin or Kelly bag, but there are other beautiful bags too which are the perfect introduction to the brand.  Amanda Mull has written a blog on the Purse Forum singing the praises of the Hermes Mini Bolide – The Mini Bolide.  If you think you like the look of this little bag then we have TWO available here at Lilac Blue London.  One in bright and summery Orange Poppy, and the other in Fauve.

If you’d like to know more about either of these lovely bags then get in touch via +44 (0)845 224 8876 for more information.