Over 1,000 people in Korea are on the waiting list for Hermes' Birkin bag, which comes with a price tag in excess of W10 million (US$1=W1,063) here.
They have already paid the money in advance to secure this coveted status symbol, according to industry sources on Thursday. The bestselling Birkin bag is named after British-born actress and singer Jane Birkin, whom many know as the voice on the erotic song "Je T'aime."
As the number of these handmade luxury bags in France is so limited, people are willing to shell out small fortunes on the accessory and wait for months to get it, the sources said. Customers often fail to get on the waiting list due to the imbalance of supply and demand, added one Hermes staffer.
Demand for luxury brands in Korea exceeds that of developed countries where incomes are far higher. According to market research firm Euromonitor, 5 percent of household income here on average is spent on consumption of designer goods. This compares to 4 percent in brand-conscious Japan.
Thanks to Asian consumers such as China, Japan and Korea, Hermes' net profit in the first half jumped 50 percent on-year to 290 million euros, while sales stood at 1.31 billion euros, up 21.5 percent.