Whilst most associate auctions purely with antiques and fine art, the luxury and designer market is one of the fastest growing sectors of the auction world today. A source of rare or unique collector’s items and ready-to-wear statement fashion pieces, there is a wealth of high-end delights often on offer for a fraction of the price new.
Luxury auctions cover all manner of items from handbags and clothing to luggage, jewellery, and fountain pens, but the most in demand lots come from a select few designers whose very names are synonymous with high fashion – namely Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Dior and Hermès. Indeed, it is the last of these, the famed Parisian fashion house Hermès, which makes perhaps two of the most iconic and timeless luxury accessories available today.
The Hermès Birkin Bag is said to be the most sought-after item in fashion history – the ultimate status symbol. Named after the actress Jane Birkin, the legendary handbag has been made since the early 1980s. Nearly forty years later, so in demand is the Birkin that there is not even a waiting list for new bags. Buyers must make contacts with Hermès stores and boutiques, and hope that they will be amongst the chosen to be contacted when a precious few bags become available. Many wait years for the right bag to become available. It is little wonder then that the secondary market for Birkin bags is thriving, with a spike in demand recently seen during the first lockdown in 2020. Rare bags can fetch tens of thousands of pounds, and in 2017 Christies sold a limited-edition example for a record £293,000. However, more common examples in good condition start at around £1,000.