The Birkin Bag Epidemic: The Rise of The Knockoff


In 1985, Hermès created the Birkin bag as a dedication to the British-born actress and singer, Jane Birkin, subsequent to an incident on an airline flight. Hermès CEO, Jean-Louis Dumas, got the idea after seeing Jane Birkin struggling with the belongings that were spilling out of her bag. It wasn’t long until the Birkin bag became iconic and on the top of every lady’s wish list.

Although the Birkin was an ‘it’ bag for a long while, it was hardly ever seen around because of its expensive price. In early 2009, the Birkin bag became every girl’s arm-candy and appeared far and wide after being frequently seen around by celebrities and socialites.  Is it feasible that everyone has all of a sudden become filthy rich? Especially during a rough time such as a worldwide recession? Of course not! What’s shocking is how young girls now receive their Birkins in every single color and skin in less time than Victoria Beckham can get hers! Isn’t that shockingly absurd?

Being the appreciative sister of someone who owns a number of Birkin bags, I now know how to distinguish between the fakes and authentics by one fleeting look around the crowd. So, how does one spot a fake Birkin? It’s a very easy job. If you know the basics, you’ll be able to spot a knock-off in a glimpse.

1) Birkin bags are made of real, exotic leathers and expensive metal hardware whereas the knock-offs are made of cheap quality pieces.

2) People walk around carrying Birkins in strange colors that were never released by Hermes and odd-looking types of skins. This is one of the easiest ways to tell whether the bag is authentic or not.

Hardware used for the Birkin (that do not tarnish):

* Brushed palladium
* Gold
* Blushed Gold
* Ruthenium

Regular types of skins available:

* Vache Liageè – The most luxurious regular type of leather
* Togo – Most commonly used
* Fjord – The toughest kind of leather used for the Birkin
* Clemence – Almost identical to Togo but softer
* Epsom – Stamped leather
* Chevre – Goat leather
* Swift

Exotic types of skins available:

* Porosus Crocodile
* Niloticus Crocodile
* Alligator
* Lizard
* Ostrich

Sizes available:

* 25 cm
* 30 cm
* 35 cm
* 40 cm

Colors available:

* Every season, Hermès releases certain colors in which the bag will be sold in. The most commonly released colors are the basics such as black, and they are the most obtainable. Other colors such as blues, greens, pinks, yellows, and oranges depend on the season and the skins available. (PS. I’m sorry to say this, but neon was never ever released!)

3) Stitching is a crucial quality of the Birkin. Everything in this bag is handmade and it takes 48 hours to construct one single bag. If there is missing or loose stitching, then you can be sure that the bag is a replica. An authentic bag’s stitching is even and the stitches are very close together, without gaps between each one. In addition, the color of the thread must match the color of the leather.  So a blue Birkin with yellow stitching? Never existed.

4) The Birkin’s shape is stiff and defined, while the replica bag’s shape is bulgy on the sides.
5) The stamp on a Birkin bag is neat and even, whereas the stamp on a fake bag is blemished and unbalanced. Pay attention to the accent over the “E”.
6) The engraving on the Birkin’s hardware is thin and polished, while the engraving on the fake’s hardware is wider and bolder.

7) The interior leather zipper tag should be parallel with the zipper hardware and not perpendicular to it.

8) A Birkin bag never goes on sale and is only sold at Hermes boutiques. If available at vintage stores they will never be sold at a price way below its original price (unless it was damaged by the previous owner).

If you are planning on buying a pre-owned Birkin, on eBay or a vintage store, or simply from someone you know, but are doubting its authenticity, these fundamental tips will ensure you get a better deal. Or if you want to bust people carrying this big fashion faux-pas around shopping malls, these tips will help you differentiate between an authentic and a fake Birkin bag like an expert.

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By: Moza Al Kaabi

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