The Jane Birkin Effect

By Lizzie Sexton

Break in your bag like Jane Birkin.

Though Tiktok has produced some interesting trends, to say the least, the latest craze comes directly from the influence of a fashion legend: Jane Birkin.

In 1984, on a standard flight from Paris to London, history was made: Hermès CEO Jean-Louis Dumas met actress and singer Jane Birkin. Throughout the brief 90-minute flight Birkin discussed her desire for a functional yet stylish bag. She stated that the day Hermes created a large, everyday bag that allowed for all of the items a mother-on-the-go would need, she would give up her signature, oversized wicker basket in its place. 

This interaction prompted the creation of the Birkin bag. 

Not just a museum piece.

After the release of the bag only a year later, Jane Birkin was gifted with her own 40 cm Birkin, customized with stickers.

Birkin was notorious for “mistreating” her Birkin bags. She wore them out, stretched them and covered them in charms and trinkets.

A standard Birkin can sell for upwards of $30,000 and most who are lucky enough to own a Birkin bag shelter the piece, maybe even leaving it untouched on their shelf to build its value.

Jane Birkin, however, leaned into the functionality of the bag, influencing fashion enthusiasts today to “mistreat” their own luxury bags. TikTok has dubbed this as “Jane Birkin-ifying” your bag.

Jane Birkin’s Bag. Pinterest.

Your bag should work for you.

To achieve the effortless, messy look that Serena Vanderwoodsen would no doubt sport during peak Gossip Girl era, users are customizing their own bags. They’re attaching ribbons, pins, broken necklaces, stickers and in a rare case, a pin cushion to the handles and exterior of their luxury bags.

By treating their luxury bags as tools rather than treasures to protect and collect dust, owners are realizing the importance of functionality rather than the price tag. They’re developing an understanding of incorporating individuality into their style over the conditioned need to fit the produced mold, the “one-size-fits-all” mantra.

Sophomore Abby Baden (@abbybaden) customizes her bag.

This individualist movement has not been “trendy” in the world of fashion for quite some time, thanks to the appeal of fast fashion and a rapidly changing fashion cycle. By utilizing second-hand pieces and old nick-nacks that have been tossed aside to customize an article of clothing or accessory, so returns the incorporation of personality and fashion items unique to the individual. This small trend amongst a niche group of users on TikTok may very well spark the fire of sustainability in the fashion industry as a whole.

Lizzie Sexton

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