Jane Birkin-Inspired Bags That Don’t Cost As Much As A Mortgage

Last week we lost the style icon that was Jane Birkin. The British It Girl who achieved huge success in French cinema and music from the 1960s onwards had a lasting influence on fashion. For many she remains the epitome of the laid-back, lazy girl look — think jeans and a T-shirt, simple yet chic minidresses and a whole lot of wide-leg trousers. 

Despite Birkin’s nonchalant style, fashion fans will know that one of the most luxurious handbags in existence is named after the star: the Hermès Birkin. The story goes that in 1984, Birkin met Jean-Louis Dumas, chairman of Hermès, on a flight from Paris to London, accidentally tipping all the contents out of her bag and into his lap. One year later, the Birkin was born. But while Jane regularly sported hers overflowing with papers and looking a little worse for wear, the bags come at a considerable cost. There is currently one for sale via Sotheby’s for $30,000, while Farfetch has a pre-owned, 1991 Birkin available for £10,491 (given that Sotheby’s sold a Birkin for over $450,000 in 2022, this might be considered a deal). 

Add to that the fact that to buy one new, you need to be offered the chance to purchase from an Hermès personal shopper — meaning you most likely have to spend some serious money in store first — and it’s unsurprising that very few people actually own a genuine Birkin. Happily, if you love the look but don’t have the equivalent of a house deposit to blow on a handbag, there are many more affordable alternatives on the market. Read on for our edit of styles to get you started, in a range of sizes, shapes and prices.

At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by us. All product details reflect the price and availability at the time of publication. If you buy or click on something we link to on our site, we may earn a commission.

Carvela Henley Lock Mini Tote, £199 £99

Orange is one of the most sought-after shades when buying a real Birkin bag. Crafted from leather with a cotton lining, this tangerine tote will withstand the test of time (although we wouldn’t recommend stuffing it with papers). The top handle and shoulder strap offer multiple carrying options and the padlock will help to keep your valuables secure.

Carvela Henley Lock Mini Tote, $, available at CarvelaPhoto Courtesy of Carvela

Coach Brooke Carryall 28, £495 £247.50

Also available in brown, the Coach Brooke Carryall does exactly as the name suggests. With three different compartments, you can carry your notebook, laptop, water bottle and more without losing any points in the style stakes.

Coach Brooke Carryall 28, $, available at CoachPhoto courtesy of Coach

Mango Flap Chain Bag, £29.99

If you’re after a mini bag, this Mango option is well worth a look. In a powdery baby blue with a sizeable front flap, it subtly leans into the Birkin style while retaining more modern micro proportions.

Mango Flap Chain Bag, $, available at MangoPhoto courtesy of Mango

Guess Cristina Real Leather Handbag, £335

With a white bag you must proceed with caution but for those who can keep it clean, there’s no denying it looks chic. Black piping and gold-tone hardware add to this tote’s elegance, and it’s roomy enough to stash all your daily essentials.

GUESS Cristina Real Leather Handbag, $, available at GUESSPhoto courtesy of Guess

Charles & Keith Aubrielle Metallic-Buckle Top Handle Bag, £75

You can count on Charles & Keith to deliver standout bags and this is one of them. Measuring just 19cm across, you won’t be able to carry absolutely everything but it definitely has enough room for your phone, keys, wallet etc. It’s crafted from faux leather, making it suitable for vegans too.

Charles & Keith Aubrielle Metallic-Buckle Top Handle Bag, $, available at Charles & KeithPhoto courtesy of Charles & Keith

Mulberry Bayswater, £1,295 £906

Let’s be real: Mulberry is a luxury label with a luxury price tag. But compared to the price of an Hermès Birkin, the Bayswater is practically a bargain. If you’re searching for a designer bag that will last forever, you can’t go wrong with this find.

Mulberry Bayswater, $, available at MulberryPhoto courtesy of Mulberry

Coach Brooke Carryall 28, £495 £247.50

We’ve already dubbed the Coach Tabby this season’s It bag but the Brooke Carryall deserves a look, too. If you like large bags, the Brooke’s polished pebble leather, gold-tone hardware and chic shape lend it a Birkin-style allure.

Coach Brooke Carryall 28, $, available at CoachPhoto courtesy of Coach

Aspinal of London Small Florence Frame Bag, £995 £497.50

This light lavender bag is for those looking for something a little more bold. The mock croc print adds texture, while the luxury full-grain leather is sure to last a lifetime. To elevate the bag even more, you can personalise the straps with your initials or full name.

Aspinal of London Small Florence Frame Bag, $, available at Aspinal of LondonPhoto courtesy of Aspinal of London

The Cambridge Satchel Co The Small Emily, £245 £171

Despite its name, the Small Emily is sturdy. With a twist lock closure, front flap and top handles, this style nods to the Birkin without straying too far from the structure of a simple school satchel.

The Cambridge Satchel Company The Small Emily, $, available at The Cambridge Satchel CompanyPhoto courtesy of The Cambridge Satchel Co

Guess Enisa Croc Print Handbag, £135

Guess has plenty of Birkin-like styles but this lockable satchel may be our favourite. With a top handle and a shoulder strap, you can wear it in multiple ways and as it’s crafted from faux leather with a mock croc print, it’s also suitable for vegans.

GUESS Enisa Croc Print Handbag, $, available at GUESSPhoto courtesy of Guess

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