In 1984, the famous Hermès Birkin bag was born after actress Jane Birkin sat next to the then Chairman of Hermès Jean-Louis Dumas on a Paris- London flight. During their voyage, Birkin complained about her inability to find a quality bag that could carry all of their stuff. In an effort to engage the famous actress, singer, and model in conversation, the businessman asked her to describe her “dream bag.”
Dumas took studious notes during their discussion, and when that flight was through, he took those notes to the Hermès workshop, and designers went to work to create the bag that has now become legendary.
The exclusive and elusive handbags have soared in price over the last 37 years, increasing the brand’s value by 500% but also guaranteeing it a bestseller on the counterfeit markets.
According to 1st Dibs, a Birkin sold for $222,000 in 2015, making it the most expensive bag ever sold at auction. But that record was quickly shattered the very next year when another Birkin bag sold for more than $300,000.
For those lucky enough to own an authentic Birkin, the luxury house’s craftsmanship, quality, and color variety they come in make it a must have purchase. The counterfeiters understand this as well- which is why it can oftentimes be extremely difficult to spot a fake bag.
Debra Kent, the founder of Mightychic, claimed, “some of the bags coming out of Italy are so good that even Hermès has a hard time telling.”
Kent advised 1st Dibs that in order to avoid being taken, the first rule is to “know your seller,” she said. “You have to do your homework. You have to ask questions. You have to see that this is somebody that’s been around for a really long time.” You even need to know who, exactly, your seller is buying from.
Here’s a list of other important rules to follow to help you spot a fake:
The Stamp: Beneath the front flap of a real Birkin is the iconic phrase of dreams: “Hermès Paris Made in France.” Label stamps are always lightly pressed into the leather in gold, silver, or as a colorless imprint, and metallics generally match the hardware.
Also, always check for the accented “è” and make sure the stamp is properly centered.
The Lock & Keys: The quality of the lock is important. The hardware is usually gold or palladium, which gives a substantial feel. The toggle should move smoothly, and all engravings on the lock should be crisp and refined. The keys are enclosed in a leather clochette that loops through the bag’s handle. Hermès attaches keys directly to a leather band; they never use key rings.
The Shape & Base: Otherwise known as the posture of a true Birkin is strong and stands tall. Real Birkins don’t slouch. The high-quality leather is meant to ensure that the handbag maintains its impressive form. The feet located on the base of your bag should never twist off.
The Leather: The leather quality on a knockoff of any designer handbag is usually the first giveaway- and this is especially true of the famous Birkin. The bag can actually delight the senses. Many owners claim there is nothing like the feel and the smell of the genuine leather used to create their bags.
The Stitching: Authentic Birkin bags are stitched by the hands of experienced artisans. The stitch work is always slightly angled, tight, and precise. While the work is done by hand, it may have slight inconsistencies, but it is never ever “messy.” Shotty or uneven stitch work is also a dead giveaway to a keen bag collector’s eye.
Other key elements to the authentic Birkins are the engraved zippers and something called the blind stamp, which follows Hermès’ complex coding system- in an effort to thwart counterfeiters.
The one glaringly obvious giveaway of a fake Birkin bag- is the “authenticity card,” while many other luxury designer bags come with the card to help verify its authenticity. A real Birkin bag would never- so if you spot one- you know you gotta knockoff.