The Hermes Birkin is undoubtedly not only the most expensive women’s handbag in the world, but also the most desirable. For the price of the most exclusive models, you have to pay the equivalent of an apartment in downtown Warsaw. Some consider it an expensive fad, while others see it as an investment. It is not hard to disagree with both, especially since there is a wait of up to several years for a Birkin model. All this has made “second-hand” trading increasingly popular. That’s why it’s worth knowing what to look for to make sure that the handbag is definitely original.

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Hermes Birkin story

In theory, the bag of the Parisian fashion house Hermes looks like many other bags available not only in exclusive boutiques, but also in chain stores. But why is it so popular? This is because there is a legend associated with it, which was released to the world by the president himself, Jean-Louis Dumas. It proclaims that the iconic handbag model was created when he met actress Jane Birkin on a plane in 1984. She complained that she could not buy a leather handbag anywhere that met all her expectations. This is how the famous Hermes Birkin was created.

Interestingly, even this handbag was not all that ideal for the actress. She has repeatedly mentioned in interviews that it is too heavy for her, and as a result, she has already tucked it away at the bottom of her closet after just a few outings.

Exclusive store not only for handbags

However, the story did not end there. The Birkin handbag is distinguished by the fact that it is sewn from crocodile skin, which also did not please the actress, who has supported animal rights activism for years. So in 2016, she officially applied to change the name of the handbag so that it would no longer be associated with her.

Parisian fashion house Hermes is not only famous handbags, but also other leather goods and accessories: scarves, wallets or belts for women and men. However, while they can be bought easily by simply walking into a store, it is not so easy with a handbag.

Hermes Birkin
Photo: Depositphotos

How to get a Birkin

There is a wait of about 5 years for a Hermes Birkin handbag, and to get one at all, one must sign up for the famous waiting list. Not only are they handmade in a small number of copies, but each one is always made by a single journeyman. That is why it takes much longer than, for example, in the production of Louis Vuitton or Chanel handbags, where they are made in bulk.

CEO Jean-Louis Dumas himself officially denies stories of waiting lists, reporting that all we have to do is show up in person at the store and establish a relationship with a salesperson who decides to give us the honor of purchasing the world’s most desirable bag.

Purse snatchers

On the one hand, shopping in such an exclusive boutique can be an unforgettable experience, but on the other hand, not everyone has the desire to frolic with a salesperson, on whom it supposedly depends whether we can leave the store with our dream piece at all. With them in mind (or for their own benefit, especially materially), so-called “marketers” have appeared. purse hunters. They are the ones who purchase Birkin models from boutiques around the world and later resell them at a reasonable profit.

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The world’s most expensive handbag

And there’s plenty to make money on. Prices of Hermes fashion house handbags range from a few to tens of thousands of dollars apiece. The most expensive of these, the Himalayan Niloticus Crocodile Diamond Birkin 30 is made of white alligator skin and studded with diamonds. It was sold in 2017 for the price of $377,000 in Hong Kong, and its buyer remains anonymous until now. What’s more, although more models and designs have come out since then, none of them have managed to break this record.

Second-hand copies

The exclusivity of the Birkin bag makes it increasingly common for cheaper imitations to appear online. At the turn of the year, very similar models even appeared in chain stores, but they were definitely far from the artistry of the famous it-bag. And while chain stores have only tried to model themselves after the world’s most famous bag, she herself has contributed to the spread of the black market. On the Internet, it is not difficult to find ads from people offering to sell the original Birkin second-hand.

Industry analysts estimate that their price could rise another 10% compared to previous years. Last year it was 4%. This means that earnings per bag can be in the order of several thousand zlotys. Not surprisingly, more and more people are deciding to release fakes on the market, on which you can make even more money.

Black market

According to a 2019 report by the international economic organization OECD, it is estimated that the black market involving the sale of counterfeit goods accounts for as much as 3.3% of the total global market. This is about $461 trillion a year, and the figure is growing every year. This topic, although at first glance it may not apply to the average Smith, is nevertheless very important. As Alastair Gray, a specialist and researcher in the counterfeiting industry, notes, the sale of counterfeits has a significant impact on the growth of terrorism and organized crime.

Supporting terrorists

Of course, fakes did not appear with the creation of the famous Birkin. Even flying on vacation to Egypt, Tunisia or Turkey 20 years ago, it was not difficult to spot logos from great designers in the local bazaars: Gucci, Chanel or Michael Kors. “Original” handbag could be purchased within the range of 200 zloty. In theory, this is a small amount we pay for a bit of luxury, but thousands of such handbags are sold daily.

Very often there are spartan conditions behind their production, including hard child labor. When we buy these items, we are supporting the growth of the black market, and often the terrorists who raise funds for their activities in this way.

Fake Hermes handbag

It would seem that today anyone can carry a luxury handbag, especially when you type the search term into an Instagram search engine – we know what a huge phenomenon we are dealing with. The hashtag #hermesbirkin alone appears there as many as 1.4 million times. By clicking on the photos provided, you can easily see that not only celebrities known from the front pages of newspapers pose with the famous handbag.

So since it’s not easy to buy it in an upscale Hermes boutique, it must mostly come from the black market. Unfortunately, often people who decide to buy don’t even realize that they are buying a fake. Therefore, it is useful to know how to distinguish it from the original.

The Fake Birkin Slayer – on the lookout for the original

Some time ago, The Fake Birkin Slayer account was created on Instagram. They are created by a group of anonymous specialists who judge whether the handbags are original based on photos posted online. In a short period of time, they have already gathered nearly 200,000 observers, and the number is steadily growing. Many people then wonder why the specialists remain anonymous and what purpose their actions serve. “The work we do should be the most important point and topic of discussion. The counterfeit market is a criminal enterprise,” said a member of The Fake Birkin Slayer in an interview with Harper’s Bazaar Arabia.

Dozens of photos exposing the fakes appear on their profile every day. Recently, Caroline Derpieński, a Polish “celebrity” who lives in Miami by day, also appeared there.

Caroline Derpensky under fire from critics

Specialists at The Fake Birkin Slayer published a photo of Caroline Derpienski posing with her pink Birkin and captioned it “Where is this bag from?” Whenever there are photos with this caption, it means fake. Not only fans, but also critics were waiting for a comment on the matter. Our native star, of course, addressed it in her style: “And what should I say to this nonsense? After all, the diamonds I buy and the purchases I show step by step are also counterfeit, right? In the US in general, everything is counterfeit. All cars are counterfeit, as well as lobsters. Even the water in the ocean is fake, all the palm trees in Florida too, and the coconuts on the palm trees are plastic balls glued on Super Glue.”

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How to recognize the original?

This begs the question, how do The Fake Birkin Slayer know that these are merely fakes? They themselves say they can recognize them by just a few small details. If, on the other hand, you plan to buy one, it is worth noting whether it comes with a set of keys with a padlock. They are not only specially engraved, but also include the bag’s serial number and the Hermes name.

Unlike handbags from other famous fashion houses, Hermes Birkin handbags do not have a posted metal name plate inside the pillowcase. Interestingly, they also never have any tag, and are only packaged in a special antique bag.

Hermes Birkin
Photo: Depositphotos

Which Polish celebrities are wearing fakes?

Although Caroline Derpienski would undoubtedly like to be among the lucky Birkin owners like Jennifer Lopez or Victoria Beckham, who reportedly has more than 100 of them in her collection, she has probably been exposed. She is not the only one, as counterfeits from various companies have been scrolling through the Polish market for a long time. Just a few years ago, there was a lot of talk about the high-heeled Nike sports shoes that Doda wore to one of her outings. An official statement from a company representative quickly quashed speculation on the subject. The artist later explained that she received them as a gift from an ex-boyfriend and didn’t realize they were fakes.

Other well-known names include Anna Samusionek, who a few years ago appeared at a film festival with a fake Dior handbag, or Marta Grycan, who at one time often appeared in fake Christian Louboutin stilettos.

Chylak – the most desired Polish brand

In Poland, we also have the equivalent of the famous Birkin. One Polish designer, Zofia Chylak created a small leather handbag signed with her name a few years ago. It quickly gained popularity not only among Polish women who wanted it in their closet. A mini handbag in black or chocolate cost in the range of £1,000, which was not too exorbitant a price for a well-cut leather handbag. Its popularity was so great that you had to sign up for a waiting list to buy it. The waiting time was as long as two years.

Investment or fad?

Taking into account all the pros and cons, it is worth considering whether buying a famous bag from the Parisian fashion house Hermes is really just a fad. Its value is increasing dramatically year after year, which leads us to believe that it may be a well-placed investment for the future. Perhaps in a dozen years or so it will be more profitable to have a luxury bag in the safe than a gold bar. The editors of GentleWoman POLAND will be watching this with interest.

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