hermes france online store
A giant orange box on a street corner Central has been unwrapped to reveal the new Hermes France flagship store.
If You Want to Buy an Hermès Bag When Visiting Paris, This is the Insane Procedure You Now Have to Follow
[Editor’s Note: We’re taking a break this week before the end of summer, so for the next few days, you’ll see a mix of new posts and some old favorites. This is one of the latter—think of it as PurseBlog Classic!]
In theory, the experience of high-end shopping should be one of the things that makes the elevated cost of luxury goods worth it. If all goes as both brands and shoppers ideally want it to, clients are treated to a relaxed experience in a serene, beautiful store, assisted by kind, helpful associates and then leave (after parting with an obscene amount of money, the store hopes) feeling fancy and pampered. In reality, though, sometimes that experience is hard to guarantee, even at the very top of the luxury market. Just ask Hermès.
Most luxury brands do everything they can to stoke demand and create a perception of scarcity, because those are the dynamics on which full-price designer purchases hinge. After all, if something doesn’t seem rare or special, why pay a premium for it? No brand is better at managing that perception than Hermès, which is legendary far beyond fashion circles simply for how hard it is to get the brand’s most sought-after bags, even if those perceptions can be a bit exaggerated on average. When it comes to shopping at the Hermès global flagship store on rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré in Paris, though, demand from international tourists hoping to score bags when visiting the city has so far outpaced the boutique’s ability to serve customers in an appropriately luxe way has resulted in a switch to a somewhat complicated and time-consuming appointment system that can take up a full day of a traveler’s stay in Paris, if not more.
The FSH store, as Hermès acolytes refer to it, is popular for several reasons. First, it’s much less expensive for tourists from outside western Europe to shop for luxury goods while visiting the region than back home, both because of differences in international market pricing and hefty tax rebate incentives. (For more information on that, check out our guides to international pricing and maximizing international tax incentives while shopping.) Second, the FSH boutique is the biggest one in Paris and generally has the best stock of hard-to-get bags, so shoppers looking to score flock to it. Third, it’s the global flagship, and if you’re already spending money to travel to Paris and hoping to come home with a special bag, wouldn’t it be nice to have a story about buying it from the most important Hermès boutique in the world? The experience is part of the price, after all.
All of those factors have created a perfect storm of consumer interest, which has lead to a not-so-luxurious reality when it comes to managing the store’s crowd. In an effort to bring a little order to the chaos, Hermès has implemented an appointment system for shoppers without an existing relationship with one of the store’s sales associates (SAs). The system either works great or is offensively bad, depending on who you ask. We put the question to our PurseForum Hermès members, and below, we’ve got a breakdown of the buying process’s steps, along with tips and tricks from people who have followed the rules and come home from vacation with the bag of their dreams.
(Note: These procedures are applicable for handbags and leather goods; it’s generally possible to shop the brand’s jewelry, silks, shoes, ready-to-wear and other product categories on a drop-in basis, as long as the crowd isn’t overwhelming.)
Getting an Appointment
At the FSH Hermès boutique, snagging a Birkin or Kelly starts with the same first step as acquiring almost anything that’s highly sought and available from limited sources: you get in line. The boutique opens at 10:30am Paris time, and before that, lines form on the sidewalks outside the store’s two entrances: the main one, and the side entrance, which opens into the store’s Sellier department. Our members reported arriving between 8:00 and 9:30 to get in line, and even the earliest among them weren’t the first people waiting. For instance, tPF member sqsd told us, “My husband and I waited on line at about 8:30am. There was 18 people in front of us and the line turned to around 22 by the time the store opened. We got an appointment for 1pm.” Meanwhile, member sheanabelle arrived a little later: “This happened on a Tuesday in October. Got on line at 9:22am. There were 6 people at the side door and about 24 people at the main. I sent my lovely fiancée to the side door. By the time it was 10:20, I stepped out of line to check out the queue and there were a good 40 people behind me. I was given a time of 3:30pm.”
Picture of Hermès Faubourg Saint-Honoré front entrance via PurseForum member jemk927
If your aim is to be seen by an SA as quickly as possible, setting your alarm extra early may be the way to go. The very first shoppers in the store are assigned to SAs on the spot until all are occupied, and after that, appointments are doled out for the remainder of the day. The faster you get into the store to make your appointment, the earlier your appointment will be and the more likely the store will have something on your wish list in stock by the time you’re seen.
Overall, more shoppers tend to line up at the FSH boutique’s main entrance than around the side, but none of our members mentioned noting a particular advantage to doing so, even though a couple heard rumors that the front door was more advantageous. If you’re not traveling alone, it may be best to follow in sheanabelle’s footsteps and split your crew among the two lines to get your bases as well-covered as possible. Divide and conquer, right?
It seems as though the store is not as meticulous about crowd control as it is about other parts of the Hermès handbag experience, though. Many people who shared their FSH appointment experiences mentioned line-cutters joining friends in front and people from further back in line rushing into the store ahead of those in front of them as soon as the doors opened. None mentioned Hermès security doing much about it. tPF member LOVERofCHANEL told us, “As it got closer to opening time, the line in front of us doubled because of line cutters. Not only that, but when the doors opened, some people behind us rush to the door, cutting us and most in front of us.”
The morning lineup is your best bet to get an early appointment time and the best handbag availability, but if you’re open-minded about the day’s purchase or more curious to have the experience and pick up something fun instead of trying to score the day’s only black Birkin, appointments can sometimes be made later in the day by dropping by and checking availability. During busy tourist seasons or heavier shopping days (Saturdays, for instance), all appointments may have already been given out, but several of our members had luck checking in circa noon for an early evening appointment. (For reference, the store closes at 7pm.)
Waiting for Your Appointment
You might think the term “appointment” implies a fixed time both parties have agreed upon in advance, but in the FSH boutique’s system, your allotted time will jump around throughout the day and you have to be ready to report back to the store fairly quickly. The system Hermès uses generates a link that’s sent to the client, and then it’s his or her job to refresh that page throughout the day in order to track the changing appointment time.
That requires tourists use a data-enambled smart phone quite a bit, as well as the ability to receive text messages, which can be costly for handbag hopefuls who have traveled to Paris from a different cell market. For people looking to buy handbags that can cost well into the five figures, though, I suppose that might not be as worrisome as it would be for the average European vacationer. Still, it’s something to keep in mind.
When your assigned SA is finishing up with their previous client, Hermès will send you another message asking you to return to the store. If you’re late for your final appointment time, the store will try to accommodate you, but you may have to wait a little longer if your SA has already moved on to another shopper. These accommodations, as well as Hermès not wanting to rush earlier shoppers while they consider their options, are likely the reason the FSH boutique can’t guarantee set appointment times at the beginning of the day. That’s great for shoppers during their appointment–after all, who wants to be on the clock while deciding to spend 15 grand?–but it can create a lot of time to fill for clients with later appointments. Luckily, the area around the store doesn’t lack for other shopping and diversions.
What Happens During Your Appointment
So, the time has come. You’re inside the Mothership. You’re drinking champagne and it’s time to spend some money. What kind of experience can you expect? Based on reports from our Forum members, your SA will ask you some detailed questions about your style, size, leather, color and hardware preferences, and you’ll then be shown your options one by one, along with potential coordinating wallets and small leather goods. That means if you have a Birkin in your hands and you want to consider a Kelly that’s also available, the Birkin has to go back to the stock room to potentially be snapped up by someone in another appointment.
Unfortunately, there’s no way for shoppers to know the totality of what the store has available, so it’s important to think long and hard before the appointment about what your preferences and dealbreakers are and how flexible you’re willing to be. In the moment, it’s likely very tempting to buy whatever you’re offered–especially if it’s a Birkin–but that’s some very expensive buyer’s remorse you’d have on your hands.
Your Odds of Being Offered a Dream Bag
Although some of the Forum members who responded to our question weren’t able to find bags that suited their tastes (one, for example, asked for a Birkin and was offered a Garden Party), a surprising number came away with more or less what they had hoped to find, including Birkins and Kellys. And that wasn’t just true of longtime Hermès clients, either; one tPFer, Mrs.santio, scored a 30cm Birkin in the popular etoupe color despite never having bought a bag with the brand before.
The Birkin tPF member jemk927 was offered on her visit to Hermès Faubourg Saint-Honoré
The most obvious thing I found in common in the stories of big bag scores at the FSH boutique was a chatty, friendly experience with the SA. If you’ve ever worked in customer service, that probably doesn’t come as a shock to you; it’s only natural to go above and beyond for people who treat you with kindness and respect when you’re in a position in which people frequently feel entitled to treat you like a servant. In Birkins, as in life, your attitude counts.
We’ll leave you with some helpful tips offered up by Pocketbook Pup, an Hermès client who has shopped successfully at the FSH boutique a number of times:
- Demonstrate a knowledge and appreciation of all thing Hermes.
- Don’t overdress in designer duds head to toe. Look like an Hermès customer. Casual elegance rules.
- If you have an Hermès bag, carry it.
- If you bought an Hermès bag there in the past, bring it back with you when you return.
- Always be polite to everyone: customers, staff, security. Hissy fits get you nowhere.
- If you have an appointment time later in the day, don’t loiter in the store (e.g. sit in the shoe department reading your phone). It will be noticed and frowned upon.
- Don’t count on getting a bag or let it ruin your vacation. Nothing is a given. Sometimes they honestly just don’t have what you want that day.
Also, it’s worth noting, there are several other Paris Hermès stores where procedures for shopping and buying bags are a little more normal. Their inventory might not be quite as big and you won’t get the thrill of the global flagship, but you might just be able to get in and get out in a relatively timely fashion and, most importantly, get on with your vacation.
The Reality of Purchasing a Hermès Birkin
It’s well known among lovers of Hermes that getting your hands on a coveted Birkin bag is no easy task. Rumors have spread among forums and in discussions about lengthy waiting lists, a prior and extensive purchase history, and a lot of luck being required to even have a slight chance of purchasing a Birkin directly from Hermes.
Much of this information came from regular women who shared their own experiences of trying to purchase a Birkin directly from a Hermes boutique and as such was more hearsay than anything else. However, that has all changed following an investigation published this week by the Daily Mail in which they sent ordinary women to three Hermes stores in Manchester, United Kingdom, and London, United Kingdom to try and buy one of the most exclusive bags ever made.
A Range of Excuses
What was so interesting about this investigation was the range of excuses provided to each of the three women who entered three separate boutiques and concessions. There didn’t seem to be a uniform response provided by the Hermes sales assistants, with many of the women left even more confused by their experiences.
The first ‘regular’ woman entered the Hermes concession in Selfridges, London, and informed the sales associate that she has “yearned to own a Birkin or Kelly” and was “at last in a position to so it.” The immediate response was that none were available in the store, even to view. When pressed further, the ‘regular’ woman was told that other Hermes stores ‘may’ have some in stock but that it was impossible for the sales associate to have access to that information, even a phone call was out of the question. Upon further questioning, the ‘regular’ woman was informed that maybe there will more coming into the concession but the time frame is unknown and the waiting list is a thing of the past, with Birkins and Kellys sold on a first come, first served basis.
The second attempt by a ‘regular’ woman to purchase a Birkin occurred at the same Hermes concession in Selfridges and in the New Bond Street store, both of which are located in London. The first stop was the concession in Selfridges who inform the customer that they ‘are not selling handbags today’ and they ‘don’t communicate’ with other stores. Trying her luck at the store on Bond Street, our ‘regular’ woman again requests to see a Birkin or Kelly bag and is met with the response that there are ‘none in stock’. Pressing him, she asks when they might arrive and is informed that the staff are unaware of what is on deliveries from Paris. A last ditch attempt to get on a waiting list is met with rejection as is an attempt to provide contact details. Instead the woman is told she should pop in every day on the off chance one has arrived on a delivery from Paris.
The third attempt by a ‘regular’ woman to purchase a Birkin directly from a Hermes store occurred in Manchester, United Kingdom. She tells the sales associate she has inherited some money and would like to take a look at a Birkin bag. The immediate response is that there are none in the store and the waiting list was closed two years ago due to high demand. The sales associate also confides that they have never had any in the Manchester store and she has only heard of rare occasions when someone has got lucky in a London store.
The Official Line from Hermes
When Hermes was contacted by the Daily Mail, they were informed that ‘Each Hermes store director worldwide is responsible for buying for their own store’ and ‘they place seasonal orders twice a year, which are generally received six to 12 months later.’
It seems that even Hermes don’t know when and even if any of their stores worldwide will receive a Birkin or Kelly, making it impossible for regular women to simply walk into a store and purchase one unless they have remarkably good timing and more luck than is imaginable.
Another interesting line from Hermes concern the reason why Birkins and Kellys are so exclusive. Every artisan who works for the company is trained for three or four years before they are even allowed to touch the hide. Then, only 10 percent of the leather is actually used for the creation of a bag with a single artisan completing the process for each. This makes the production of Birkins and Kellys completely dependent on the number of properly trained craftsmen in the company at any given time.
Realistic Options for Regular Women
So, what does all this mean for ‘regular’ women who aren’t Kim Kardashian or Victoria Beckham, but wish to own one of the most sought after bags in the history of fashion? Essentially, purchasing a bag directly from Hermes is out of the question unless you are a celebrity or one of the luckiest people on the planet.
For regular women who wish to invest in a Hermes bag the only realistic option is to use a trusted reselling service who don’t discriminate based on income or purchase history. At Baghunter, we provide an essential service to women worldwide, providing an opportunity to own a handbag that would otherwise be completely inaccessible to them.
However, there is a word of warning that accompanies purchasing a Hermes bag from a secondary source. The counterfeit market for these bags is thriving and auction sites such as eBay are rife with fake Birkins and Kellys. There are even a high number of consignment websites which claim to resell authentic Birkins, but actually send extremely convincing fake bags. It is therefore essential to use a trusted consignment service when making the decision to purchase a Hermes bag online.
To help you make the right decision and decrease your chances of becoming a victim of the increasingly convincing counterfeit market, we highly recommend you familiarize yourself with the small details on Hermes bags which can help you spot a fake. Read our Authentication Guide to see how the experts authenticate Hermes bags and ensure you only deal with trusted businesses before making a purchase.
Everything You Need To Know About Buying An Hermès Bag
BY GIORGINA RAMAZZOTTI30 NOVEMBER 2018
It would be impossible to ignore the importance and influence of Hermès bags on the history of luxury fashion. From Kylie Jenner regularly giving video tours of her enviable Hermès collection and Victoria Beckham reportedly owning over 100 Birkins, to the announcement that Hermès bags are a better investment than gold, these coveted design classics – particularly the Kelly and Birkin styles – are synonymous with modern exclusivity and luxury.
But while many bags sell for upwards of five figures, there are numerous ways to invest in an Hermès bag, starting from as little as £600. Here, Vogue explores the best styles, prices, leathers, hardware and authenticated retailers to bring you the ultimate guide to buying Hermès bags.
Why are Hermès bags so special?
Hermès has been creating beautiful leather pieces, renowned for their exquisite craftsmanship, since 1837. First established by Thierry Hermès as a harness workshop in the Grands Boulevards quarter of Paris, the atelier quickly became dedicated to serving European noblemen – even Napoleon Bonaparte was a client – and in 1922, the first Hermès handbag was created.
Émile-Maurice was head of the firm and when his wife complained there were no bags on the market to her liking, he designed a line of bags himself. The Sac à Dépêches was introduced in 1935 – later to be renamed the Kelly bag after Grace Kelly, the Princess of Monaco, in 1977. The iconic saddle-bag style Hermès Constance was designed in 1969, and perhaps the most famous Hermès bag, the Birkin, was introduced in 1986 after a chance encounter on a flight with Jane Birkin, who after announcing she could not find a bag to suit her needs, compelled Hermès Chief Executive Jean-Louis Dumas to design her a soft, supple everyday bag. The rest is handbag history.
Read more: Know Your Hermès: A Collector’s Guide
“It’s really a combination of the craftsmanship and the quality of Hermès bags that make them so coveted,” explains Sophie Hersan, co-founder of Vestiaire Collective. “Each bag is made by one person and the leathers are selected very carefully to ensure that only the best pieces are used. The attention to detail is exceptional and only adds to the desirability of the bags.”
“In restaurants in Monaco, and fine restaurants worldwide, [Hermès bags] get their own seat!” says Sharon Wolter-Ferguson, CEO and Founder of HEWI London. “A number of more practical factors contribute to the enduring desirability of an Hermès bag. The craftsmanship, each stamped code represents which artisan created that particular bag, superior materials used and exclusivity – to buy one directly from an Hermès store is not always possible, with elusive sales staff and limited stock available, one usually leaves empty handed. This makes for an interesting resale market – they are the ultimate fashion investment.”
Read more: How To Shop For Vintage Handbags
What is the most expensive Hermès bag ever sold?
The world record price for an Hermès bag was a very rare Crocodile Himalaya Birkin 30 with 18k white gold and diamond hardware, sold at auction for an eye-watering £208,175 at Christie’s, Hong Kong in 2017. According the Rachel Koffsky, Handbags & Accessories specialist at Christie’s, it is unsurprising the bag reached such a high price. “The reason that the piece was so special, and so valuable, is because of the delicate gradation of the exterior – it is called the Himalaya as it is said to resemble the snow-topped mountain range. This subtle hue is only achieved by the most expert craftsmen, in a process that takes years to master.”
Is an Hermès bag an investment?
The continued world-record breaking prices of the bags selling at auction prove that the secondary market is speeding up rather than slowing down. A study released by BagHunter in 2017 showed that the value of the Hermès Birkin has increased 500% in the last 35 years – an increase of 14% each year. Investing in a Birkin or Kelly bag is now historically safer investment than the stock market – while share regularly fluctuate depending on the economic climate, the Hermès bag has never lost its value, instead continuing to rise steadily year on year.
Read more: Street Style: Classic Handbags
A carefully used Hermès bag can reach 80% to 120% of its original price at resale and compared to a new car or the majority of designer clothing and accessories – whose value decreases as soon as they leave the showroom – an Hermès bag increases in value overtime.
According to Sharon Wolter-Ferguson, CEO and Founder of HEWI London it is imperative an Hermès bag is kept in good condition if it’s being bought as an investment. “A few golden rules apply. Always store it in its original dust bag, stuffed with light paper to keep its shape, protect it from the elements and keep all original documentation from CITES to the store receipt,” she says. “If the bag is less than perfect after years of loving use, it can go the Hermès spa where it will spend a few weeks being brought back to its best, having its hardware and leather restored and polished.”
Rachel Koffsky, Handbags & Accessories specialist at Christie’s, agrees. “A vintage Birkin or Kelly in great condition will maintain its value if you use it gently and take good care of it,” she says. “It does pay to invest in your handbag collection as you would fine jewellery, art or antiques.”
How much is an Hermès bag?
Brand new Hermès bags, purchased directly from an Hermès store, vary considerably depending on the rarity of their leather and hardware, but general consensus states the price for a new Kelly bag starts at £6,000 and for a new Birkin starts at £7,000. However as many customers know, it can be very hard to get hold of an Hermès bag directly from the brand, so many look to second-hand dealers, where prices can start at as little as £2,000 for a Birkin to over £100,000 depending on its rarity and condition.
Buying a bag at a reputable auction house can bring about a bargain. According to Forbes.com the same 2006 style of tan Hermès Birkin bag worn by Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine had a starting bid of £2,700 at auction, but to buy a 2013 version of the bag in an Hermès store would have cost £8,500.
Read more: The It-Bag Index
Jerôme Lalande from Collector Square explains you can still purchase an Hermes bag despite a smaller capital. “With a budget of £2,000-£3,000 for a Kelly, I would recommend a buyer to go for a 1970s vintage canvas and leather Kelly, that can be in very good condition,” he says. “For the basic box leather vintage Kelly bags, the price differences are mainly because of the condition – and therefore the year of production – and the missing original pieces, like padlock and keys.”
Which Hermès bag should you buy?
Experts suggest that when buying an Hermès Birkin or Kelly bag to be use regularly – but also as an investment – that neutral colours and popular sizes are key.
“When it comes to acquiring an Hermès Kelly or Birkin,” says HEWI’s Walter-Ferguson, “it really is a matter of personal taste. Classic colours are a safe trans-seasonal option and don’t date and can pass down from generation to generation, and are always in high demand.”
“I would definitely recommend a 32cm Kelly bag in black box leather and golden hardware,” says Lalande, Hermes expert at second-hand luxury goods specialists Collector Square, who himself has personally collaborated with Hermès for over twenty years in search of ancient pieces for the house. “Black and 32cm because it is the most timeless colour and size; box leather because it is among the most resistant leathers and no longer produced so rare.
“Regarding a Birkin bag, I would recommend a 35cm Birkin bag – the most classic and convenient size – in Etoupe Togo leather with palladium hardware,” he adds. “Etoupe is a very specific and iconic Hermès colour – between grey and taupe – and always goes with the palladium hardware. Togo leather gives a more flexible shape and feel to the Birkin bag.”
Sophie Hersan, Co-Founder of Vestiaire Collective, recommends forward-thinking styles as a good juxtaposition between traditional styling and modern wearability. “I would suggest a classic Kelly 25cm or 28cm,” she says. “Both designs are crossbody and very on-trend.”
An under-the-radar design that often gets overlooked is the Hermès Herbag design. Instantly recognisable as an Hermès style, and regularly referred to as ‘The Kelly Bag’s little sister’, the Herbag – made from durable, modern canvas and trimmed in cowhide leather – is a great starting point for a classic Hermès bag and can be picked up for as little as £600 on the second-hand market.
Senior Vice President of Moda Operandi, Jodi Kaplan, gets to the root of what purchasing a bag is really all about, following your heart: “My personal advice is to buy what you love and what speaks to you best.”
Where do you buy an Hermès bag?
While Hermès have a huge variety of bags available to buy online, due to the rarity and difficulty many customers face in purchasing an Hermès Birkin or Kelly bag from store direct, many consumers look to second-hand luxury dealers and consignment stores that offer authenticated bags in excellent condition. ‘Waiting lists’ no longer exist at Hermès stores, and it’s the limited availability of the bags that is just one of the aspects of why demand has risen so much in recent years.
Moda Operandi and Christie’s are the destination for some of the most exclusive Hermès bags, and while they offer more affordable price points – Hermès bags can start at £1,000 at a Christie’s auction – they also deal in the rarest and most expensive of Hermès bags. “The fun at auction is the thrill of the hunt,” says Christie’s Rachel Koffsky, “For a first-time buyer looking to invest, I recommend that she do her research. Comb auction archives to find pieces which truly stand out to you.”
Christie’s regularly breaks world records for their sales of Hermès bags and Moda Operandi – who work in association with Heritage Auctions – often list bags retailing over £100,000. “Our customers tend to be attracted to exotic skins and novelty pieces, says Moda Operandi’s Jodi Kaplan. “Recently we’ve seen they have gravitated towards jewel-toned crocodile pieces, the Kelly picnic bag, as well as our perennial favorite, the matte alligator Birkin.”
Collector Square, The Real Real, HEWI London and Vestiaire Collective are some of the popular destinations for Hermès bags at more affordable price points, with each retailer guaranteeing in-house experts and authentication services. Bags are either listed by sellers – and authenticated upon purchase – or held at the website’s HQ for the buyers to purchase from direct. Either way, each site assures that authenticity and luxury service is top of the agenda.
“We are of the strong belief that buyers of pre-owned items should enjoy the same standard of service one enjoys on Matches Fashion or Net-a-Porter, and should not be forced to keep or re-sell items they wish to return,” says Wolter-Ferguson of HEWI London.