Hermès bags are some of the most coveted in the world. Signature Hermès bags such as the Kelly and the Birkin can go for tens of thousands of dollars but are worth the price due to first-class design and quality that lasts decades.
Even if you can’t shell out hefty cash for the most popular Hermès bags, the brand offers other kinds of bags at lower prices, with the same level of craftsmanship you can expect from them.
Kim Kardashian carrying an authentic black Hermes Birkin bag (Credit: Michael Wright / WENN / Winston Burris)
Be careful with counterfeit bags, though. In August 2018, 22 people were caught by the U.S. Department of Justice smuggling millions of counterfeit luxury goods into the U.S.A. from China. The seized items included fake Louis Vuitton and Tory Burch handbags, Michael Kors wallets, Hermes belts, and Chanel perfume.
With counterfeit designer bags becoming more of a problem these days, it’s good to know what separates authentic bags from fake ones.
Buying Guide: Where to Find Genuine Hermès Bags
Hermès bags are sold at the brand’s official website and all over the world at various physical retail stores, though getting a specific bag you have in mind may be tricky. You can find highly sought-after vintage Hermès bags at Farfetch and online consignment stores.
Hermès boutiques curate their collections based on selections made by the store director biannually, so it’s advisable to watch for new arrivals during these key periods.
Kylie Jenner holds up her blue Hermès Birkin bag while shopping at Barneys New York in 2016 (Credit: Michael Wright / WENN / Winston Burris)
It is also possible to buy Hermès bags from stores unaffiliated with Hermès, but these places are generally where counterfeits can also be sold.
So, if you’re looking to buy a Hermès bag from one of these stores, here are some tips to help you determine if your purchase is the real deal.
1. Make Sure It Doesn’t Come with an Authenticity Card
Authentic Hermes bags don’t include an authenticity card; a bag with one is likely counterfeit. Genuine Hermes items, however, come with a dust bag, clochette, and keys.
These accessories should be of high quality and have a substantial feel. This distinction is crucial in differentiating between real and fake Hermes products.
2. Check the Leather Quality
Hermès bags use genuine, high-quality leather, which can come in different leather variants. Some Hermès bags are made with calf and buffalo leather, while the more exotic pieces are designed using crocodile, alligator, and ostrich leather.
Regardless of leather type, Hermes leather has a few things in common. Inspect the leather and ensure it’s soft and has a somewhat uneven pattern.
Animal rights organization Peta and German actress Alexandra Kamp protesting against the use of crocodile skin outside the Hermes fashion show in Paris, France (Credit: Michael Wright / WENN / Winston Burris)
Hermès bags use genuine leather, which doesn’t have perfect patterns, so if you spot a Hermès bag with leather that looks manufactured, take that as a red flag.
3. Look for the Logo
Another good place to inspect is the logo of the bag. Hermès bags have their brand name located on the bag’s hardware plate. Key features of a genuine Hermès bag’s logo are its perfectly centered position on the plate and the font of the logo itself.
Introduced in the early 1950s, the iconic orange logo of Hermes features a Duc carriage attached to a horse
As a general rule of thumb, newer versions of Hermès bags have slightly thinner fonts than their older counterparts. Keep an eye out for the accent on the second letter “e” of the Hermès title as well.
4. Inspect the Blind Stamp
One of the more popular ways to check for the authenticity of a Hermès bag, especially for Kellys and Birkins, is a blind stamp. The blind stamp is an indicator of the bag’s manufacture date.
A letter corresponding to that year is printed beside the date, and a circle, square, or rectangle symbol typically surrounds the letter.
Vural Öger’s daughter, Demet Lee Öger, shopping at Hermes on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, California (Credit: Michael Wright / WENN / Winston Burris)
One important thing to note about the blind stamp is that it also coincides with the type and color of the bag’s leather.
Certain leather types and colors are only used in specific years, and you can tell if a Hermès bag is genuine if the leather, color, and blind stamp coincide.
5. Pay Attention to the Stitching
One aspect of a bag that many counterfeits can’t seem to replicate is the quality of the stitching. The stitching of an authentic Hermes bag showcases exceptional craftsmanship.
It’s hand-sewn using a traditional saddle stitching technique involving two needles and waxed linen thread. This results in uniform, consistent stitches without any loose threads, reflecting the high standards of Hermes’ quality.
Immaculate stitching on a Hermès bag in Epsom calfskin with one pocket, two compartments, and permabrass plated hardware
Hermès bags have first-class stitching done on them, meaning any inconsistencies or flaws in the Hermès bag’s design can indicate that the bag may be a counterfeit.
6. Examine the Hardware
Lastly, take a look at the hardware of a Hermès bag. Hermès bags (especially the signature Kellys and Birkins) are made with high-grade metals such as gold or palladium, which feel heavy and substantial.
The hardware, including zippers, should operate smoothly without signs of tarnishing or wear. The keys and padlock are precisely fitted for each bag, ensuring a snug and secure fit.
Aside from this, the material used is consistent throughout the bag, so if you see any differences, that bag may be a fake.
Hardware on a clutch in Swift calfskin with interior back pocket and palladium-plated Collier de Chien closure
Pay special attention to the consistency and quality of the hardware on a Hermès bag. Genuine Hermès hardware, crafted from high-grade metals, should feel substantial and maintain uniformity in color and texture throughout the bag.
Any discrepancy in material quality or color could indicate a counterfeit product. Always remember that genuine Hermès craftsmanship is characterized by its attention to detail and consistency in high-quality materials.
Questions Regarding Hermes
Q: What is Hermès?
A: Named after its founder, Thierry Hermès, Hermès is a luxury goods manufacturer that designs jewelry, leather bags, and perfumes, among other products.
The brand was founded in 1837 as a horse harness-making shop in Paris and is most well-known for its handbags, such as the Kelly and the Birkin.
Q: What is a Birkin?
A: A Birkin is a popular Hermès handbag variant named after famous actress Jane Birkin.
The bag was originally designed in the 1980s by Hermès chief executive Jean-Louis Dumas, who was seated next to Jane Birkin on a flight to London. Jean-Louis Dumas designed the bag based on what Jane Birkin described as the dream bag.
Q: Where can I find the Hermès bag that I want?
A: Locating a specific Hermès bag can be difficult. Each Hermès store has a unique assortment of products, varying by location. This selection is influenced by the store director’s choices, meaning availability can differ significantly from one store to another.
This beige and tan brown straw and leather 2011’s Kelly 35cm picnic bag from Hermès features a round top handle, a twist-lock fastening, silver-tone hardware, a hanging leather tag, and padlock detail
Generally, store directors place orders twice a year, so make sure to check at the nearest outlet if you can to see what they’re selling.
What is the most expensive Hermès bag?
According to Barrons, a new world record was set in 2010 when a rare, limited edition matte black Niloticus crocodile Birkin bag sold for HK$1.625 million (approximately US$208,000) at Christie’s auction house in Hong Kong.
This record was surpassed in 2017 when a white crocodile Hermès Himalaya bag, adorned with 10.23 carats of diamonds, fetched £293,000 at the same auction house. The Hermès Himalaya Birkin, especially those with diamond-encrusted white gold hardware, ranks among the world’s most sought-after and valuable handbags.
A Himalaya Birkin 30 bag was sold for $450,000 at Sotheby’s in 2022, demonstrating its exceptional rarity and status in the luxury market. Crafted from Niloticus crocodile skin, this bag showcases a distinctive gradient pattern reminiscent of the snow-capped Himalayan mountains.
The second most expensive Hermès bag ever sold is the Hermès Birkin bag created by Japanese designer Ginza Tanaka. This bag is crafted from platinum and features over 2,000 diamonds, with a pear-shaped 8-karat stone that can be detached and worn separately. The bag was sold for around $1.9 million.
The Sac Bijou Birkin is the most expensive and exclusive Hermès bag ever produced. Priced at $2 million and released as part of the Hermès Haute Bijouterie Collection in 2012, this bag is a testament to the luxury brand’s commitment to craftsmanship and exclusivity. Designed by Pierre Hardy, the Sac Bijou Birkin is more than just a handbag; it’s a fusion of high fashion and jewelry. Crafted as a miniature handbag intended to be worn as a bracelet, it showcases over 2,000 diamonds set in rose gold.
How much is a new Birkin bag?
The cost of new Birkins ranges from around $14,000 to more than $200,000. It’s unknown how much Kim Kardashian paid for her custom Birkin featuring a nude painting by a famous contemporary artist, George Condo.