Hermès Birkin Restoration

Jean-Louis Dumas was artistic director of Hermès until he retired in 2006 where he transformed the brand into an international high-fashion retailer with some 300 stores and revenues of about $2.5 billion, but it was originally founded by his mother’s great-grandfather Thierry Hermès. It was Dumas who created the iconic Birkin bag, with the help of English actress Jane Birken, which became the most internationally recognised and in-demand bag in the world. The pair met on a flight from Paris to London where she explained how she wanted a bag that was spacious enough for everything she needed to carry and more, with plenty of pockets. Shortly after, Hermès produced the first Birkin bag. This handcrafted leather handbag became a fashion status symbol for women, including celebrities and socialites, who would pay thousands of dollars and wait up to six years for a personalised bag.   

Before restoration

This particular Birkin was brought to The Restory having been loved dearly. Although these bags are carefully crafted from high quality leather, the colour was faded from lots of use, the leather was wrinkled and the body of the bag was almost collapsing and in need of a reinforcement.

Heavily scuffed corners

After a physical assessment, as is standard with all items that come into the atelier, the team needed to provide a total restoration including stitching to restore the shape and a colour restoration to revive the overall colour.

The first step was to create a paper template to replicate the exact size and shape of the front and back panels. Using the template, the leather used for reinforcement was cut and glued into the inside of the bag in between the front panel leather and the lining. To do this, our expert stitching team needed to remove the top stitching by carefully unpicking the thread.

The next step is to glue the already cut reinforcement in between the lining and the front and back panel of the back. Whilst this is glued, the leather is massaged with a special tool that stretches the leather and minimises the wrinkles. Leather is a skin after all that needs to be looked after just as much as our own. This process needs to be done carefully and in small doses to keep the original shape.

When the reinforcement is all glued and the shape of the bag has been recover, the top panel is stitched back into place as if it was never opened, helped by our artisan sourcing the perfect thread in colour, size and quality.

Sourcing the perfect thread

Hermès bags are always crafted by hand and our team always endeavours to honour the original craftsmanship by stitching by hand when restoring. The panels are stitched back together by hand which requires a high level of attention to detail to ensure every single hole of the original stitch is matched and no new holes are created.

Hand mixing the colour
Restoring the worn corner
Colour restoring every inch of the bag

The edges are then repainted and finished with a wax coating which is important for protection and the achieve the recreation of the smooth corners. The leather is conditioned and prepped before a colour restoration where are expert team hand mix the colour to ensure they find the perfect shade. If the overall colour of the bag is significantly faded, our team will seek an area where the colour has been least affected by wear and tear, sun damage and colour transfer which may be tucked in the side gussets or inside a pocket. Once the perfect colour has been mixed, it is applied in light layers to conceal scuffs, scratches and stains and the colour is revived.

Restored and revived
Restored and revived

Whilst our atelier is closed, the team are still on hand to respond to your preliminary quote requests so don’t hesitate to get in touch.