A US art collective has ripped apart four Hermès Birkin bags in order to create what could be the world’s most expensive sandal.
“Just the act of cutting up a Birkin bag scared so many people,” Lukas Bentel, MSCHF’s creative director, said in a phone interview. “A Birkin bag is like an art object. It’s so sacred, you can’t damage it.”
MSCHF “Birkinstock” made from a destroyed $31,000 Hermès crocodile 35 bag. Credit: MSCHF
“It’s also something where to actually benefit from that value increase, you should not do anything with your Birkin bag, you should keep it in your apartment (and) in your closet,” said Bentel.
The Birkin buzz
The art collective decided to emulate the high-low collaboration model, a format that has been sweeping the fashion world in recent years.
“The people that you see wearing Birkenstocks are not the same people you would assume own Birkin bags,” said Lukas Bentel, “and this is just punching those two ends of the spectrum together.”
Despite most luxury items promising some return on investment, the Birkin bag was an integral part of MSCHF’s vision. “It’s a more singular object” said Kevin Wiesner, “a Gucci bag means any bag that Gucci makes. A Birkin bag is always a Birkin bag.”
MSCHF “Birkinstock” made from a destroyed $19,500 Hermès Taurillon Clemence 35 bag.
The Hermès Birkin bag has enjoyed a steady rise in popularity ever since its creation in 1984. First flaunted on the arms of celebrities such as Kate Moss and Victoria Beckham (who reportedly owns 100 versions of the iconic bag, costing around $2mil in total), the Birkin bag is now a favourite of many US rappers.
There are fewer than ten Birkinstocks available to buy on a made-to-order basis. R&B singer-songwriter Kehlani and rapper Future were among the first to buy a pair before Monday’s official drop, according to MSCHF.
The assimilation of Birkin bags into hip-hop culture was important for MSCHF, who believe it’s this multiplicity that makes them such compelling cultural objects.
“Cardi B purchased a Birkin bag and all sudden it was trending on Twitter, and you’re just like, why?” said Bentel, “But the symbol of the bag is just so powerful culturally, it’s the perfect building block to make something even crazier.”