Last week we lost style icon Jane Birkin. The British It girl who achieved huge success in French cinema and music from the 1960s onwards had a lasting influence on fashion. For many, she remains the epitome of the laid-back, lazy-girl look — think jeans and a T-shirt, simple yet chic minidresses, and a whole lot of wide-leg trousers.
Despite Birkin’s nonchalant style, fashion fans will know that one of the most luxurious handbags in existence is named after the star: the Hermès Birkin. The story goes that in 1984, Birkin met Jean-Louis Dumas, chairman of Hermès, on a flight from Paris to London, accidentally tipping all the contents out of her bag and into his lap. One year later, the Birkin was born. But while Jane regularly sported hers overflowing with papers and looking a little worse for wear, the bags come at a considerable cost. There is currently one for sale at Sotheby’s for $30,000 while Farfetch has a pre-owned, Birkin 35 available for $44,000 (given that Sotheby’s sold a Birkin for over $450,000 in 2022, this might be considered a steal).
Add to that the fact that to buy one new, you need to be offered the chance to purchase from an Hermès personal shopper — meaning you most likely have to spend some serious money in-store first — and it’s unsurprising that very few people actually own a genuine Birkin. Happily, if you love the look but don’t have the equivalent of a house deposit to blow on a handbag, there are many more affordable alternatives on the market. Read on for our edit of styles in a range of sizes, shapes, and prices to get you started.
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