August 28, 2014
By Jody Hume
HOW TO AUTHENTICATE THE HERMÈS BIRKINSHOP HERMÈS
When it comes to the ultimate handbag pièce de résistance, the Hermès Birkin is in a class all its own. The iconic accessory was originally created for actress Jane Birkin, though nowadays it’s renowned not only for its famous namesake, but also for the quality materials and craftsmanship that have made it one of the world’s most prized handbags.
The creation of the Hermès Birkin is arduous — artisans spend up to 18 hours completing one bag, a process that includes selecting the hide, cutting the pieces and hand-sewing each stitch. Though copycats have attempted to recreate its luxurious look and feel, there’s simply no substitute. That’s why we’ve consulted our Senior Director of Authentication & Brand Compliance, Graham Wetzbarger, who makes sure every Hermès Birkin at The RealReal goes through rigorous inspection to verify its credibility. “Not every Birkin is the same, but they do have defining traits,” he says. Check out the video above as he walks you through each signature characteristic, and then look for these three things before you invest.
Hermès’ leather and exotic skins are sourced from all over the world — the company even has a crocodile farm in Australia — so the Birkin uses only top quality hides. Types range from the luxurious Togo and Clemence leather (which have a softer feel and can relax over time) to the more durable and rigid Epsom.
To determine if the material is of Hermès quality, Wetzbarger says the bag’s color can be a telltale sign. “It should never look like it’s been painted on,” he says.
Primarily palladium or Permabrass, Birkin hardware is unique and specific, namely the belt straps, the spindle and the interior zipper. Most Birkins have four studs for feet, but larger, travel sizes often have a middle row of studs as well.
Pay attention to the four small nails that secure the hardware on the buckle straps. “They should be rounded to a nice dome shape and match the hardware on the rest of the bag,” says Wetzbarger. “I’ve never seen a nail out of place on a genuine Birkin, but they’ll sometimes go missing on imitations.”
Birkin handbags feature two signature stamps: a heat stamp with the Hermès name and the blind stamp, which indicates the year the Birkin was made and the craftsman who created it — that way, if you ever need it fixed, it can be returned to the same Hermès artisan for repairs.
The heat stamp is printed in metallic foil matching the bag’s hardware, but the blind stamp should be barely visible (hence, the name). “Imitations will often make the blind stamp look larger or heavy,” says Wetzbarger. “They make it obvious in the hopes of fooling you, but the authentic ones are difficult to see.”
Now that you know how to spot a genuine Hermès Birkin, you can rest assured when buying the investment piece — or make the purchase even easier when you shop our selection of authenticated Birkin handbags, along with other popular styles from Hermès such as the Kelly, the Evelyne and the Constance.
Like the video? Get more helpful how-tos for other iconic fashion houses like Louis Vuitton and Chanel in our authentication series.