Summer Camp is the New Birkin Bag

06.12.11

When Jane was born I wanted a Birkin bag. The two year wait list made me long for it in ways I’d never imagined. When I found out that I could sell it for nearly double the purchase price within 48 hours I no longer wanted to own a Birkin so much as I wanted to buy many of them.

When Alexander was born I was doing a brisk business in couture resale and the Blue Jean and Palladium Birkin was the hottest bag on the market so I decided to carry one. It brought me about two solid weeks of intense pleasure, and then I realized that it was a heavy, boxy handbag that was too masculine for my liking and the sippy cups that I’d placed in it were ThisClose to costing me a cool $8,000. I regained my senses and sold the bag.

My husband and his friends never understood my business, they couldn’t comprehend carrying a purse that looked like a hybrid between a diaper bag and briefcase. I’d patiently explain, “It’s like wearing your paycheck on our arms. It’s how we show people we have value.”

This explanation has never worked particularly well with reasonable men. Exotic car owners nod slowly and knowingly, I would not call these men reasonable.

The women I’m surrounded by now still have their Birkin Bags but the sippy cups were replaced by water bottles and lip gloss a few years ago. Minivans have been traded for high end hybrid trucks and the new competition is school and camp.

Ask an LA kid about their summer plans and you’ll hear about camps with organic farming, adventures, sports, drama and the arts. You’ll hear that they didn’t go to their first choice camp but they are hopeful because they are waitlisted. Kids will tell you about summers spent in Europe or eco tourism in South America.

And mothers will puff up with delight when you ask about summer plans, particularly that one lady, you know who she is. She’s the one who used to have the swank purse, but now she has the swank vacation and the hybrid, because being ostentatious with couture went out of style in the Great Recession, but where Hermes left off, summer camp has filled the void.