Recognized as one of the most collectible handbags in existence, the Hermes Himalayan Birkin is a hard (not to mention expensive) piece to come by. Our Hermes expert lays down the facts behind the maison’s most elusive bag, as well as where to find it, right at Rebag’s Madison Avenue boutique.
WHAT IS THE HIMALAYAN?
The term “Himalayan” refers to the unique coloration of the Hermes bag in question. Many have mistakenly attributed the coloration to being a naturally occuring coloration in crocodile skins; a variety of Asian crocodile with albinism; or, falsely attributed the coloration to an elusive species of crocodile found only in the Himalayas.
When you look past all of the common misconceptions, you’ll learn that it is actually a precariously and delicately processed crocodile skin of the Crocodylus niloticus species, designed and processed to mimic the snowy mountain caps and dark, earthy mountain sides of the world-renowned mountain range.
HOW WAS IT CONCEIVED?
A brief history of this novel idea, the Himalayan design first started in the 1990’s as Vert Celadon Natura, a green-brown colorway that was only ever produced in the Kelly bag line.
The Vert Celadon Natura coloration was in reference to exotic handbags of the early 20th century, when it was nearly impossible to remove natural pigment from exotic skins, even after rigorous processing. Around the turn of the new millenium, Hermès revisited this process, creating no more than 10 of these exquisite Kelly bags for private sale.
In the late 2000’s, Hermès changed their proprietary process again, refining the painstaking technique to a finely practiced craft. The Matte White Himalayan was born, this time in both the Birkin and Kelly lines. Later, Hermès added an exciting new variant, the Matte Gris Cendre Himalayan to their repertoire, completing a full circle as yet another reference to the Vert Celadon Natura colorway, and the bags of the early 20th century.
HOW IS IT MADE?
In order to create the Matte White Himalayan coloration, the craftsman must first select a naturally light skin, which in itself is a daunting task to undertake. Then, like all skins, the hide is dry salted to preserve the material, soaked to clean the skin, limed for descaling, and de-limed to prepare the hide for pickling. The sample is then chrome tanned to turn the organic material inorganic, thus ensuring durability. The skin is then shaved and degreased to thin it out, re-tanned to soften the hide and make it workable, and finally dried. Only then can the secretive and proprietary dyeing process begin, which is highly guarded and a mystery to majority of outsiders.
WHAT IS ITS TRUE RARITY?
Estimates on how many Matte White Himalayan bags exist vary, as this sort of production information is based purely on secondary market circulation. But since the coloration has been extended to items such as the Plume, Constance, and certain small exotic goods, it can be determined for certain that the Himalayan Birkin is among the most rare and highly sought after handbags Hermès, or the world, has ever known.
HOW MUCH DOES THE HIMALAYAN SELL FOR?
The retail price on a Himalayan birkin can vary based on size, with the largest size of 40cm standing at around $120,000. Coupling that price with the difficulty of acquiring one from the notoriously selective fashion house makes this bag nearly unattainable. Hence, at auctions, prices for these bags soar at a base of around $90,000 and reach as far as $380,000 for the versions with diamond-replete hardware, dependent on size and hardware type. In the private reseller market, prices can range from above $100,000 and climb to $150,000 with ease.
The astronomical pricing of these highly coveted handbags may send your head spinning, but at Rebag, our price of $70,000 is seemingly more reasonable. At this level, the pièce de résistance of luxury goods seems within reach.
REBAG’S HIMALAYAN BIRKIN
See our own Himalayan bag at Rebag on the Upper East Side, at 575 Madison Avenue.
Hermes Birkin Handbag
Himalayan Niloticus Crocodile with Palladium Hardware 30
Date Stamp: R Square (2014)