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The Bag Hag Diaries

More and more women gypped into buying fake Birkin


HERMES Vibrato Birkin with different-colored stacked leather

Ever since Hermès was introduced to bag lovers (credit goes to the brand’s exposure in movies and through celebrities), a lot of women have been asking me about Birkins and Kelly bags. They ask about the authenticity of the bags they bought on the black market.

It is most unpleasant to report this, but the number of women who have been gypped into buying a very expensive fake Birkin or Kelly is on the rise. Social media pages that sell and online “shops” have conned people into buying what they thought was a real Hermès bag for a fraction of the cost.

Buyer beware! Very good fakes have been proliferating, allowing opportunists to take advantage of buyers hankering for Hermès bags but cannot get them in Hermès stores because of limited supply.

Who hasn’t heard of the “wait list” at Hermès boutiques for the bag, and of the talk that the wait list is but a myth? I can confirm: Yes, there is a wait list; no, that’s not the brand’s way of saying they don’t want to sell you the bag.

Hermès has actually been having trouble keeping up with the production of these highly coveted bags; their factory is not producing enough to meet increasing demand. Which is why, according to its CEO Patrick Thomas, Hermès will build two more leather factories in France for a 20-percent increase in production as soon as they become operational in two and a half years.

I strongly suggest you buy your Birkin or Kelly at the Hermès boutique itself, to be sure that your bag is authentic. Plus, you don’t have to pay a crazy black market price—the rates can go incredibly high.

Before you buy, however, know more about the bag. The type of material used should be paramount consideration. It’s not just about the style, it’s also about what it’s made of.

HERMÈS Chevre Birkin, notice the “spine” pattern that runs down the center

Apart from exotic leather such as crocodile, ostrich and lizard hides, some of the more popular materials Hermès uses for Birkin, Kelly and even the increasingly popular Lindy, Evelyne, Victoria and SO Kelly, are:

Veau Togo—Calf leather. Togo is usually the most requested leather, for good reason. It is naturally grainy, pebbled, at times veiny, and a little stiffer so a bag made of this leather keeps its shape better. It’s also more scratch-resistant, compared to other leather.

Taurillon Clemence—Made from baby-bull leather. Characterized by wider, flat grain, a Birkin or Kelly made from this leather has a tendency to slouch over time as the leather is soft. This leather is also a tad heavier than the Togo. It is a very good alternative to Togo.

Chevre—One of my favorite Hermès leathers is made from goat hide or Chevre. Chevre Mysore and Chevre de Coromandel are two types of goat leather the brand has used. Both are characterized by a “spiny” grain that runs along the center of the bag, which gives it that exotic skin feel. It is less prone to scratches as well. The leather is on the shiny side, giving the bag a very polished look.

HERMÈS Birkin with Epsom-denim combination, striking color combination of leather and fabric

Epsom—The grain you see on this bag is actually not natural, but is imprinted or embossed onto an otherwise naturally smooth and stiffer leather. Birkins and Kelly bags made from Epsom have more structure. If you are concerned about wanting to retain the bag’s shape over time, get one in Epsom leather. It is also very lightweight and fairly scratch-resistant. Mind the corners of the bag, though, as they are more prone to scuffing compared to bags made of Fjord, Togo or Clemence.

Vibrato—Many who see the Vibrato initially mistake it for a type of heavy fabric. Unlike the other leathers on Hermès bags, the  Vibrato is a result of stacking and compressing different leathers together. It is a painstakingly time-consuming process, making this layered leather look very unique to Hermès bags. Sadly, Hermès does not make this bag too often anymore. Vibrato bags are truly special and showcases the workmanship capabilities of the highly trained Hermès craftsmen and women.

Toile, Canvas, Denim—A leather-and- fabric combination on a Birkin in the right tones can look very classy. While many would be resistant to the idea of a fabric bag because it can get dirty fast, Hermès leather bags combined with fabrics like Toile, canvas and denim are actually not as prone to dirt as they look, because they are treated.

Fjord—This is arguably one of the tougher leathers at Hermès and is made of the adult cow hide. Although slightly heavier, this is also one of my favorites because having a bag made in this material makes the body of the bag practically indestructible.

And while most of the leathers mentioned above are not meant to get wet or get water stains, Fjord leather seems to repel water droplets.

So, before you shell out a big amount for an Hermès bag (or any bag), research exhaustively. Arm yourself with Hermès bag knowledge as this will allow you to further appreciate the brand.

Online forums like the http://forum.purseblog.com and bag sites like http://www.bagsnob.com provide very reliable information about Hermès bags.

Visit http://www.thebaghagdiaries.com. Follow on twitter.com/thebaghag

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Tags: Accessories , Bags , Birkin , fashion , Hermès , Lifestyle

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