There is nothing more coveted in the world of luxury fashion — or more difficult to get – than the Hermès Birkin, the holy grail of bags. It was first developed for, and subsequently named after, actress Jane Birkin in 1984, before rising to cult-level fame and attracting an ever-increasing price tag and waiting list.
However, it appears that there is now another way to get a Birkin, and it comes in the shape of a new NFT that was recently released in the digital realm (appropriately dubbed the ‘MetaBirkin’). Welcome to the future! Mason Rothschild, an LA-based digital artist, created the colourful, hyperrealistic, and furry-looking MetaBirkin as part of a piece that debuted at Art Basel Miami. Only 100 MetaBirkins were created by Rothschild, giving them an exclusivity equivalent to that of the original Hermès bag. The only issue here? Hermès has nothing to do with it, and they don’t approve of it either.
It’s vital to note that these MetaBirkins aren’t real, in the sense that they’re neither Hermès items nor physical purses. So, they can’t be touched or even actually used. Despite this, the most expensive NFT handbag among them sells for 249 ETH, which is presently equal to over $780,000. For perspective, the most expensive Hèrmes Birkin (and bag, in general) ever sold at auction in real life was the infamous Diamond Himalaya, which featured crocodile skin, 18-karat white gold hardware, and even some white diamonds.
The use of the name ‘Birkin’, appears to be what has irritated Hermès, prompting the brand to file a 47-page complaint with the New York Southern District Court last week. The letter claims that Rothschild ‘simply rips off Hermès’ famous Birkin trademark by adding the generic prefix ‘meta,’’ and that ‘there can be no doubt that this success arises from his confusing and dilutive use of Hermès’ famous trademarks.’
Rothschild disagrees with Hermès’ statement and wrote in his own online statement this week: ‘I am not creating or selling fake Birkin bags. I’ve made artworks that depict imaginary, fur-covered Birkin bags […] I won’t be intimidated.’
We didn’t think the fashion industry could be much more dramatic!
Although not Hermès-approved, the MetaBirkin is the latest in a long line of high-end fashion NFT releases. Coach, for example, just debuted its first collection of NFTs as part of a Christmastime campaign, while Gucci believes that it’s only a matter of time until more luxury labels follow suit after the Italian company debuted its first NFT as part of a newly-unveiled auction at Christie’s.
With NFTs having already wreaked havoc on the traditional art market, we’re eager to see how they’ll affect the fashion industry in the near future.