Cardi B, Birkin Bags, and the Black Community — Why So Expensive?

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Nationwide — Birkin bags are not new. The idea was conceived back in 1984 by British actress Jane Birkin and a businessman named Jean-Louis Dumas, who at the time was the Executive Chairman of Hermès – the Paris, France-based company that owns the brand. The handbags, although very expensive ranging from $3,000 to $500,000 each, have remained very popular for more than 30 years. Recently though, the bags have quickly gained popularity within the Black community.

The popularity of the brand seemed to really take off amongst African Americans in October 2020 when rapper Cardi B posted a photo of her large collection of Birkin bags on her Instagram account. In the photo, she can be seen proudly posing with more than 20 of the bags. 

The post, which has since received more than 5 million “likes,” created controversy as some of her followers began to express their frustration about rich entertainers who continue to support luxury white-owned brands, but don’t support Black-owned brands. Others voiced their opinion about rappers who brag about their luxuries while their lower-income fans continue to struggle financially because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, more than anything, the post created awareness and demand for the bags within the hip-hop community.

The bags, which cost so much because of their limited availability, were most famously spotted in the hit TV show Sex and the City back in the 1990s. In more recent years, they have been very popular among the likes of Kim Kardashian and her billionaire sister, Kylie. The two of them have posted several photos of their custom-embroidered vintage Birkin bags designed by Jonathan Riss, founder of Jay Ahr, who charges anywhere from $35,000 to $85,000 to customize the bags.

However, when Cardi B did the same. It seemed to have sparked new interest from a very different, but influential demographic.

R&B singer Queen Naija later posted a photo of her bag on her social media handles. Then, another rapper, Saweetie, who is also the girlfriend of rapper Quavo, posted a video on social media saying: “If he not getting you a Birkin, if he not paying for your bills, then throw that n—- back to the streets.”

This only reignited the flames. Yes, a lot of people are upset. However, sales and demand for Birkin bags are expected to be at an all-time high this year during the holiday season and afterward. It also will not be a surprise if every rapper and R&B singer mentions the brand in their upcoming songs.

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