312 Comments

I can understand Hermes wanting to sell their most desirable, hard to get bags to their 'best' customers. But the whole process has turned into something ugly and toxic. I think the company has created a lot of the toxicity by giving no commission on the Birkin and Kelly, which has turned these bags into 'bait' that the sales staff uses to nudge / incent customers to purchase a lot of Hermes goods these people might not purchase otherwise. (social media has done the 'dirty work' for them though, and the sales staff don't even have to SAY it to customers. They know already what they're expected to do). My wish for this lawsuit is for the general public to get a good look at what has been going on here, and I hope the suffer reputational damage from the general public.

disclosure: I've purchased several Hermes items over years, but only things I wanted to own, and not to 'build a buy history'. I've never pursued any bag from Hermes to date. It just looked so hard, and, more than a bit crazy!

Expand full comment
Apr 1·edited Apr 1

These are possibly the ugliest bags ever made. The only selling point I can see in these bags is the insanely ridiculous price that makes them "exclusive". Some people talk about the "quality", but I'm sure there are other handmade bags of equal quality for 1/10th the price at a mere $3000 or so.

Expand full comment

There was a time when I would have loved to have one.

That was during that period of the early 2000s when it seemed like all bags on the market were big unstructured pillowy messes... "boho" style or whatever. I looked and looked for something a) structured that b) could hold a bottle of wine and c) work papers when necessary.

FWIW, these weren't designed to be pretty, they were designed to be travel bags. They aren't great for that either, too heavy and no crossbody option, but for a utilitarian work bag that looks tailored, they make some sense. But of course few things are worth that kind of $ and hassle.

I ended up getting a Cambridge Satchel Co. bag, which has a similar size and structured aesthetic, but is actually better for me because I really don't like livgin without a crossbody strap. And then was relieved when boho style flagged.

Expand full comment

Every so often, I have a sneaking sympathy for those "Eat The Rich" bumper stickers.

Expand full comment

There's a trademark consideration involved which I find interesting overlapped with antitrust. An aspect of trademark (more trade dress here because it's a physical object but generally the same things) is codified monopoly: the Lanham act. Part of their argument is, essentially, trademark law is unfair, but the Birkin has the value it has because it's not just a bag, it is a specific trademarked bag. Hermes is entitled to do whatever they want with their trademark, which is the very thing that gives the item value, including who gets one from their hands. To have a trademark on a physical item involves a lot of litigation over the functionality of the trademark. Hermes no doubt has outstanding trademark lawyers in regular litigation against producers of knockoffs.

Expand full comment

So Lyft and Uber have rider ratings. I have on multiple occasions standing with techrbos who were waiting and bitching about the lack of cars .. as I got into one. Because when I am in someone else's car I tend not to be an asshole.

Expand full comment

The only thing I like more than you way you write is the way you think.

Expand full comment

Excellent piece, I agree that suing Hermès in this case is insulting- “we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone” is up to the artist and trained, knowledgeable boutique staff.

“That’s Capitalism, which you’ve won BTW. I’m sorry, but that sometimes means you can’t treat these handcrafted luxury items like you’re stopping off to pick up some flip-flops.”

I’m so far from elitist, believe me, but the litigants are missing the point. The lawsuit shows their lack of respect for what these artists, couturiers and ateliers create, to want to have it on demand and treat their staff like crap, apparently. Get a grip on your luxury goods, rich people.

Expand full comment

The Merkin bag can't be far behind.

Expand full comment

The Merkin bag can't be far behind.

Expand full comment

Okay, I freely admit that as a heterosexual, middle aged male, I know absolutely nothing about fashion and even less about handbags.

Having said that, Jesus fucking Christ! Anyone who is willing to pay $10 grand or more for a fucking handbag should have their head examined. I get that it’s a status symbol like owning a Ferrari or a Rolex and that the whole point is letting people know you can afford blow a fortune on something impractical. But I don’t give two shits about that either. Personally, if I had $10 grand leftover after paying for all essentials, I’d write a check to St. Jude’s or the Sierra Club and enjoy the tax write off. But that’s me.

Expand full comment

Its not just the $10 grand. Its the $10-$20 grand people (think? they) are expected to buy in other goods to have the chance to be offered at $10 grand bag to purchase.

Expand full comment

I doubt the people employed to sell Hermes products would appreciate being called retail clerks.

Expand full comment

Or “goons.”

Expand full comment

How dare they viciously beat these people into being civil?

Expand full comment

I am trying to understand having an existence so shallow that it revolves around procuring the opportunity to pay an obscene amount of money for a handbag.

Robyn has simply outdone herself with this post -- something that I didn't even think was possible.

Expand full comment

Anthro majors, please:

Is this an example of a "fetish object" or do the adherents belong to a "cargo cult"?

Thanks!

Expand full comment

My degree is in physical anthropology, not cultural, so my guess is only as good as yours, but it certainly looks that way. Most of these things are objectively ugly, and without shoulder straps or storage compartments seem very impractical. If not for the potential resale value, I wouldn't even spend $5 on one at a second-hand store.

Expand full comment

My degree is in physical anthropology, not cultural, so my guess is as good yours, but you may be right. Most of them are objectively ugly, and the lack of shoulder strap or storage compartments makes them impractical. If it wasn't for the potential resale value, I wouldn't even buy one for $5 from a second-hand stone.

Expand full comment

I'm not going crazy (????) it didn't post the first time, but reappeared after the second try!

Expand full comment

Every single article has a double post or two. No one thinks anything of it, as it's clearly a glitch and it's always someone different. This time you!

Expand full comment
Mar 29·edited Mar 29

I am not a designer handbag person. My purses take way too much abuse for me to spend the kind of money that even the mid-range bags cost, and a designer bag would just show up how cheap the rest of my wardrobe is.

That said, I’m Team Hermes here too. It’s good to make rich people work for a purchase, because they more than anyone else need to learn that you don’t always get what you want right away. The whole point of those bags is their exclusivity and that they are finely made enough to last a lifetime. But hey, if some spoiled people want to throw money away on a lawsuit, go ahead.

Expand full comment

I used to think I was too rough on my pickup trucks to ever buy new. I grew out of that.

Expand full comment

This is dumb. A friend of mine was in New York City last month and bought a genuine Birkin bag from a guy on Times Square for just a hundred bucks. It's the costly overhead for these high class stores that make it so expensive. At least that's what the guy he bought it from in New York said. He even got a deal on a real Rolex watch for buying two items. Only $89.99! Twenty bucks off! I'm gonna get his name and check him out if I ever get to New York City. I bet he has a lot of repeat customers too.

Expand full comment

Name brands...blech!

Mr. Demme got a pair of Sipeedo sandals when we visited Jordan!

They were great!

Expand full comment