When Alexander Sway, a DIYer who goes by @liveyoursway on TikTok, saw how much the luxury Hermès Birkin bag that his girlfriend wanted as an anniversary gift actually costs, he decided to get creative.
The Hermès So Black Matte Alligator Mississippiensis Birkin 35 (2011) sells for over $110,000 used (plus the additional costs to get on the waitlist in the first place), so Sway decided to hand-craft the bag himself, documenting the process along the way.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Sway said in the video. “$100,000 for a bag is crazy. But what was even crazier was instead of paying I decided to surprise her and make my own.”
He described how he found a pattern for the bag online, then purchased tools and leather pieces from a local leather goods store for $400 before he got to cutting out the leather to match the pattern. Despite $400 being a downright steal in comparison to $110,000, Sway still lamented that he made some “rookie mistakes” at the beginning of his luxury bag-making attempts and lost quite a bit of the costly leather pieces.
Nonetheless, he continued on, undeterred, but admitted that along each step of the way, he learned exactly why luxury bag makers charge such exorbitant prices.
“At first I thought it was going to be pretty simple,” he explained. “I thought it was going to be as simple as cutting shapes out and assembling the pieces … I didn’t realize how hard it was going to be as a first project.”
Sway added that “there are so many steps involved” and that each step “can take a lifetime to master.” While he considered giving up many times, he kept going and followed up his original video with one of him actually surprising his girlfriend with the handmade bag.
Sway’s girlfriend’s reaction to the big reveal is truly priceless.
Sway provided some additional insight into the luxury good-making process, explaining that he couldn’t even find the type of leather that a real Hermès Birkin bag would be made of, but he did his best with what the leather goods shop had available. He also explained that every single hole in the bag had to be hand-punched, sometimes twice, because of how thick the leather is, then lined up.
“Since there were several hundred holes to go through, my fingers went numb and I had to take a lot of breaks,” he added.
But despite the challenges — and the small fact he ended up being one month late for their anniversary — he called the process “joyful” and said he was glad he proved he could make something from scratch.
“It didn’t turn out perfect,” Sway admitted. “But that’s all part of the process.”
Sway’s video was an interesting look at the process of what actually goes into making a luxury handbag. As one of the most expensive bags in the entire world, the Hermès Birkin is “a work of art,” and each bag is hand-crafted by a single artisan in a detailed process that takes about 40 hours.
“This includes examining and cutting the leather pieces, carefully hand-stitching them together, and placing the hardware using a technique called ‘pearling’,” SACLÀB, a retailer for pre-loved designer leather goods, explained in a post.
Despite the obvious work involved, many commenters were still not convinced a $110K price tag is ever justifiable. “Yeah but not 100,000 dollars lmao” wrote faaaccmen.
And as Sway proved, there is no price tag you can put on a handmade gift made by someone who loves you.
“Hermes is $110,000. A handbag by your man is priceless,” wrote María de Jesusa.
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