Acquiring an authentic Hermes handbag or well-made replica can be a daunting task. With so many inferior knockoffs out there, it will require a little detective work and a bit of research. So much care goes into original bags, and many designers have factored in “signature” techniques so that you can spot the originals more easily.
Just like in designer clothing, details can make or break a handbag. Authenticity cards aren’t the only hallmark of designer handbags. Many come with booklets of information that cover everything from the company’s history to the little details that distinguish the handbag. Garnering some background information about your Hermes handbag is also a good idea. For example, most people don’t know that there is no such thing as a “vintage” Birkin, since the Birkin has only been on the market since 1984.
Nearly all Hermes purses on the market today are knock-offs. There are some key traits to look to make sure your Hermes handbag is authentic:
• A real Hermes handbag will have the Hermes emblem engraved on its hardware instead of embossed. Embossing raises the letters above the surface of the metal, whereas engraving sinks them below.
• Handles must be of equal length. It may seem like a trivial trait, but it’s actually a very important one.
• An original Hermes purse is stable enough to stand without support. The hardware on the bottom of the bags should be permanent and should not screw off.
• The stitching of a well-made Hermes handbag is consistent and always level or parallel. Another feature is that the stitching is diagonal, not horizontal, and is always of a uniform color throughout the entire bag.
• Hermes has an extremely high standard for leather. They only purchase the finest, and of that only 2% ultimately makes the cut. Their leather is of the highest possible grade; supple and beautifully natural, Hermes bags are never rigid or glossy.
• A designer’s name is their handshake, and therefore labeling is very important. An authentic Hermes product will never have spelling errors anywhere on the item. Any type of misspelling is a sure indicator that your purse is an inferior-quality fake. Counterfeit labels are very cheaply made, and often mass produced. Their stitching is cheap and the labeling process is often inconsistent. For example, where “Burberry of London” is the real designer name, you might see “Burberrys of London” on knock-off products. Fake purses will often pluralize a name, and may also hang labels somewhere on the purse rather than stitching them into the material.
• Every Hermes purse has a “signature” marking on the underside of the strap. This is a unique dating system that the fashion house uses to indicate the year the purse was made.
• Packaging should never be overlooked. A purse that costs thousands of dollars will not be wrapped in discount store tissue paper or mass-produced boxes. Be on the lookout for boxes that are too big or too small. Luxury items should be packaged in wrappings of the same caliber as the item. Additionally, designer handbags are not distributed in thin, flimsy dust bags. Hermes dust bags are made of very durable, thick, orange-colored cotton flannel. Vintage Hermes bags may come with a tan velour dust bag that has a different design. All Birkins come with the orange dust bag.
• Protecting the hardware of a Hermes handbag is as important as the packaging. Every item that is sold in their retail stores has a protective covering over the precious metal hardware. This covering is not made of plastic, nor is it sticky, and it is never removed until after the purchase has been completed.
Purchasing a luxury item requires much consideration. A bit of research could save you a great deal of money and heartache. If you can recognize authentic and well-made products and have an eye for excellence, your transaction will be just as authentic as your new Hermes handbag.