Victoria Beckham's Birkin Bags

There was a question in tutorial 3 which asked about how value is produced, and I shall attempt to use the Birkin bag as an example to illustrate my answer.

Victoria Beckham's Birkin Bags - Anthropology & the Human ConditionVictoria Beckham's Birkin Bags - Anthropology & the Human Condition

The Birkin bag is a bag that "starts at £4,200 for the basic model", and this article talks about Victoria Beckham's huge collection of the classic bag, which is seen as an "investment piece" in the fashion world, and has a "waiting list of up to three years". It was also explained that "lengthy production times were due to a combination of the advanced craftsmanship involved in making the bag, and the limited availability of particular colours or skins", and due to this long waiting time, "the sought-after bag will not depreciate in value".

Value is produced by the availability of resource to make a certain item - the type of leather used for making the bags.The bag has a variety of hides such as calf leather,ostrich, crocodile and lizard. One of the most expensive is saltwater crocodile skin. Bags with smaller scales cost more than those with larger scales. The bag is lined with goat-skin. The color of the interior matches the exterior.The bags are handmade in France by expert artisans. The company's signature saddle stitching, developed in the 1800s, is another distinctive feature.

Value is also produced by the cost of producing that particular item - Prices for the Birkin bag depend on the color, hardware fixtures, and skin.Each bag is hand-sewn, buffed, painted, and polished, taking several days to finish. An average bag is created in 48 hours. Leathers are obtained from different tanners in France, resulting in varying smells and textures. Because of the individual craftsmanship, other details of the bags may not all match. The company justifies the cost of the Birkin bag, compared to other bags, based on the meticulous craftsmanship and scarcity.

Value depends on the availability for everyone to own that item - The bags are distributed to Hermès boutiques on unpredictable schedules and in limited quantities, creating scarcity and, intended or unintended, exclusivity. It is highly coveted and, for several years, was reputed for having a waiting list of up to 6 years – the longest wait for any bag in history.As a result of the strong demand, the Birkin bag has a high reselling value in many countries especially Asia.In April 2010, Hermès announced that the waiting list would no longer exist, implying that it is potentially available to all.

Value also depends on successful advertising - Although the Birkin bag is free of logos, it is one of the most recognized bags in the fashion industry and by the public. The whole world should know the exclusiveness of this bag so that they can ascribe value to it. Even if 99.999999% of women are unable to afford it, they should know WHAT A BIRKIN IS.

Therefore the value of the bag is a symbol of wealth due to its high price and elusiveness to the public.

Abraham, T. (20 May 2009)
Bag lady: Victoria Beckham's 100-strong Birkin bag collection that's worth £1.5m Retrieved from:

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