The world’s richest man makes handbags. Not ordinary bags. Just the ones that are worth more than a luxury car.
Bernard Arnault is currently worth an estimated $210 billion and built his fortune over the last 35 years building the luxury brand conglomerate LVMH; which includes Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior and Moët & Chandon champagne.
Among his investments is a 20% stake in Hermes, a brand selling the most expensive handbag in the world, the Hermes Rose Gold Kelly bag, a bag that features 1,160 diamonds and sold for $2 Million.
What does the $2M Hermes handbag look like?
The Hermes Rose Gold Kelly bag is a piece of art. And calling it art is important. That means its price potential is maximized and the sniggering minimized.
But I also think it’s important to know what a luxury bag looks like. This requires some training. And writing this article outs me in that category.
So next time you visit your local up-market restaurant, take a peek around the floor at the handbags hanging stylishly in the coat room or over the chair, you will be able to tell the difference between tacky and stylish.
The $2m Hermes handbag
Here are some other bags in the “bargain” Hermes range to consider for a gift for your significant other.
Luxury fashion handbags by the numbers
For me a handbag is optional.
But I have to confess I do have a couple of “man bags”.
Sure, I like a bit of style but could I tell the difference between a $200 knock off handbag and a $2M “real” handbag at a glance? Probably not.
But for many they are an essential fashion item.
Well, in looking at the numbers I have a new perspective on what’s important in life; for some people. And I have underestimated the buying power of “luxury fashion” by a few billion dollars.
In 2023 the estimated world wide market for luxury handbags was $63.8 billion. That was surprising!
Also the luxury handbag market is growing at nearly 5% a year and it seems that Bernard might be able to buy himself a new handbag or two if that trend continues.
Who are the social media influencers we can blame for handbags that are worth more than a house?
Charles Gross is a TikToker with 1.3 million followers on TikTok.
He bought his first Hermes Birkin bag for $300 and later sold it on for $5,000. Charles’ TikTok channel is all about comparisons between luxury handbag brands and talking about “quiet luxury”.
His comment in Vogue about what he loves about the Hermes brand provides some insight into the obsession with luxury brands.
“The Hermès team mean it when they say their products are yours forever – you can bring in a Birkin or a Kelly inherited from your grandmother and they’ll take apart the entire bag to replace even just the smallest bit of hardware and stitch it all back together again seamlessly.”
But Charles Gross is not the only handbag influencer we can blame for the handbag insanity.
Jamie Chua is the star of the movie “Crazy Rich Asians” and has 200 Hermes bags in her collection and has 1.3 million followers on Instagram.
I don’t know where she keeps them. But I would suspect that it is a wardrobe the size of a 2 car garage.
Maybe she is partly to blame for the attention on the handbags… but I think the truth lies somewhere else.
Why pay $2M for a handbag?
Now I get it why someone would buy a beautiful luxury sports car. They go fast, they are visceral, the sound of the exhaust puts a smile on my face and I do get some attention.
But I am struggling on why someone would buy a handbag over investing in a small house.
Here is my take on why some people spend the big bucks on luxury handbags:
- Let’s start with the obvious first. Because they can. They are rich.
- They like a bit of attention. Feeling a bit insecure and need to have a bit of adoration and validation. They are rich.
- Love of art. It is art over your shoulder or in your hand? Portable and beautiful. Doesn’t need a shelf or a wall. Plus they are rich.
- It is an investment opportunity and maybe Charles Gross fits that category. Getting rich maybe?
- Just a plain love of fashion which sort of bleeds into art. The rich buy art. The poor make their own.
But no judgement.
What the rich and famous think about fashion (and luxury handbags)
Maybe the true essence of the crush on luxury handbags is found in the quotes by the rich, famous and thoughtful:
“I like my money right where I can see it…hanging in my closet.” —Carrie Bradshaw
“I don’t design clothes. I design dreams.” —Ralph Lauren
“People will stare. Make it worth their while.” —Harry Winston
“Playing dress-up begins at age five and never truly ends.” —Kate Spade
“The joy of dressing is (“my”) art.” — John Galliano
One last word
So…to answer the question “Can We Blame Social Media Influencers for the Rise of the $2M Luxury Handbag?” I think the answer is no.
Let’s blame it on the rich. They are an easy target and have way too much money.
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