• Mohan Dewan

Brands are more than just a name or a logo; they embody a story and a legacy that have been built over time. Behind every brand, there is a rich history and a unique set of circumstances that have shaped its identity and contributed to its success. These background stories have become an integral part of the brand, and they serve as an essential tool for building brand loyalty and connecting with customers. There are various brands that you think you know about, but do you really know them? In this series of articles we will be telling you unknown stories behind known brands. 
Hermes Birkin Bag - A chance encounter on a flight
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The Hermes Birkin handbag is one of the most iconic and coveted accessories in the world of fashion. It is a symbol of luxury, elegance, and sophistication, and is highly sought after by fashion enthusiasts and collectors alike. But what is the origin story of this legendary handbag? Surprisingly, it all started with a chance encounter on a flight.

The story goes that in the early 1980s, British actress and singer Jane Birkin was aboard a flight from Paris to London. She had a habit of carrying her belongings in an open Portuguese straw basket, however on this flight she was travelling without her favourite basket as it got crushed accidentally two days before the flight, so she was forced to stuff all her belongingness in a small bag.

When she tried to stuff the bag in the overhead compartment, the bag overturned spilling everything on to the aisle. A gentleman who was seated next to her stepped up to help her and suggested her that she should have used a bag with pockets. In response Jane expressed her frustration that she could not find a suitable bag to carry all of her belongings. A bag that is both practical and stylish. She said “The day Hermes makes one with pockets, I will have one. “

In what could be said as an inconceivable coincidence, the gentleman seated next to her was the Artistic Director and CEO of Hermes, Jean-Louis Dumas. He said “I am Hermes and I will make one with pockets for you”. Dumas, who was known for his keen eye for design and his commitment to creating products that were both functional and beautiful, took this as a challenge. He asked Birkin to describe her ideal bag, Jane described all her pointers for a daily carrier bag., Dumas pulled out a pen for sketching the design, however since they were mid-flight, the only available paper there was an Air sickness bag. Dumas drew the sketch of the bag based on the pointers provided by Jane on that Air sickness bag. 

The resulting design was a spacious handbag with a simple, yet elegant shape. It featured a flap closure, a lock and key, and a sturdy handle that could be carried by hand or over the shoulder. The bag was crafted from high-quality leather, with hand-stitched seams and meticulous attention to detail. It was christened “The Birkin Bag” in honour of Jane Birkin, who had inspired its creation.

The Birkin bag quickly became a sensation in the fashion world. Its timeless design and impeccable craftsmanship made it a favorite among celebrities, fashion editors, and socialites. It also became a symbol of wealth and status, with some models costing tens of thousands of dollars.

Despite its astronomical price tag, the Birkin bag remains one of the most coveted accessories in the world. Its popularity has spawned countless imitations and knock-offs, but the original Birkin bag remains the ultimate status symbol for those who can afford it. A bag that was sketched on a four cents air sickness bag is now sold at a price range of USD 20,000 to even USD 440,000. 

The origin story of the Hermes Birkin handbag is a testament to the power of chance encounters and the importance of listening to the needs of customers. What started as a casual conversation on a flight between two strangers resulted in one of the most iconic and timeless fashion accessories of all time.


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