Episode 672: Bagging the Birkin : Planet Money Once you've got a Birkin bag, you've made it. But to get one, you need more than just money. Birkins always seem to be mysteriously out of stock. This is no accident.
NPR logo Episode 672: Bagging the Birkin

Episode 672: Bagging the Birkin

Sam Yeh/AFP/Getty Images
The Birkin Croco is made of dyed crocodile skin.
Sam Yeh/AFP/Getty Images

Note: This episode originally aired in 2015.

There are people with Birkin bags, and then there are the rest of us. This purse, made by the French luxury brand Hermès, averages $60,000. It's a little boxy. It comes in just about every color. Each bag is handmade, and Hermès staff apprentice for years before they can produce a Birkin.

The Birkin has been the "it" bag for decades, but Birkin owners have more than just a nice purse. They also have a story, of how they came to own one of the most elusive bags on the market. If you want to buy a Birkin, you can't just go to a store. You have to go through a bunch of elaborate rituals. And even then, it can take months, or years, to actually see a Birkin in person.

Today on the show, we head to the Upper East Side on a quest for a Birkin bag. We find ourselves in a world where the normal rules of commerce are totally upside down.

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