Birkin Bait: Is it Loyalty to the Brand or ‘A Means to an End’?

Hermès handbag lore is that to play in the Hermès Birkin/Kelly playground you have to pay. The theory is that in order to be offered one of the elite hallmark bags, you need to make significant purchases of other (non leather) goods.

Image Credit: @myarmoire

To be fair, Hermès recently denied this. As you may recall, customers in China accused the brand of “peihuo” sales tactics: requiring non leather purchases before the opportunity to buy a bag. Notwithstanding the denial, Sales Associates often encourage the purchase of other items first. Not just a rumor, many in the PB community can vouch for this experience. But, who can blame the SAs. If, as is reputed, they earn commission on non Birkin/Kelly items, of course they want to sell those first.

This raises the question, do your purchases really show your loyalty to the brand, or are they for the sole purpose of building your spending profile to be offered a quota bag?

Loyalty to the Brand

Wouldn’t it be great if you could waltz into Hermès for the first time and “score a Birkin?” Rarely does that happen. But, there are very specific things you can do to increase your chance of one day getting “the bag of your dreams.” Follow these unspoken, but well established “rules,” and in time, it will pay off. Mostly, you need patience and trust in your SA.

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Hermès’ philosophy is to instill a deep rooted loyalty to the brand. The goal is for clients to appreciate the history, expertise, and workmanship that goes into creating each luxury product they sell. This extends far beyond leather goods. Hermès would love to outfit your entire family, furnish your home, fill your kitchen cabinets with beautiful tableware, and provide stunning gifts for all of your loved ones. Once you experience the different “metiers” Hermès has to offer, you will understand. Now step inside and enjoy the journey.

Playing the Hermès Game

Let’s assume you are well educated in all things Hermès, the history of the company, its legacy and philosophy. You are ready to commit yourself to the journey. You have an SA (sales associate) you connect with. You buy only from your home boutique (not online), and only from your SA. (There is an exception if you travel internationally.) Your wishlist is specific enough to steer your SA in the right direction. You understand that each person’s journey is different and you do not compare yourself to others. Finally, and most importantly, you are patient and believe all good things come to those who wait.

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But… what have you purchased lately? Your spending profile matters. Clearly, it affects your relationship with your SA. Every purchase you make is recorded. Generally speaking, when a quota bag, or other highly desirable piece arrives that is on your wishlist, your sales associatenwill advocate for you. Whether ultimately offered the item may depend upon your spending history and the Sales Manager’s approval.

How Much Do You Have to Spend?

No one knows for sure. Although the process is very secretive, the manager’s decision is based on many factors including your total spending throughout the store. Each boutique operates differently based on the size of their store, the number of SA’s employed, the clientele they service, the amount of tourists that visit, the amount of product they receive, and the wishlists of their established and VIP clients. Nevertheless, it is a widely held belief that making purchases in different areas (metiers) of the boutique increases your chances of being offered a quota bag.

Image Credit: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg

Many fashionistas on social media talk about a spending ratio. Is it a 1:1 ratio? Do you have to spend the equivalent of the cost of a quota bag to be offered one? Others believe the ratio is higher – 1:1.5 or even 1:2. However, many have been offered quota bags after spending much less. There is no set amount. The key is your loyalty to the brand and your relationship with your SA. And, on some level, luck.

What to Buy When Stock is Low

Since the onset of the global Pandemic there have been multiple shutdowns of Hermès factories in France. Inventory is at an all time low, shelves are empty, sizes are limited, and choices are slim. The back stock in Paris is likely exhausted. The United States is experiencing an unprecedented backlog of goods due to the disruption of the supply chain. Many SAs are telling clients no shipments are expected in the U.S. until 2022.

Image Credit: @mywardrobediaries

The prospect of getting a Birkin or Kelly from your wishlist appears unlikely the rest of this year. So how do you maintain a spending profile sufficient for a quota bag offer if there is no inventory?

Beyond Leather and Scarves

Most new Hermès clients begin their journey with a purchase in the leather goods and scarves metier. Now would be a good time to explore metiers in the Hermès boutique you never considered. Hermès introduced its beauty line in early 2020. The lipstick, blush, and newly released nail polish are great purchases which have a lower price point but still show loyalty to the brand.

Image Credit: Hermès

Image Credit: Hermès

Don’t fear the ready-to-wear either. Hermès makes lovely sweaters that retail for far less than another exclusive French brand. Also consider buying your holiday and special occasion gifts for family and friends at Hermès. This is an easy way to share the excitement of opening an iconic orange box with your loved ones.

In your quest to establishing yourself as a loyal and trusted customer, there is one hard and fast rule…

ONLY BUY WHAT YOU LOVE!

Do not fill your home with items you will never use. You should love and enjoy all your purchases. Although we lovingly refer to our purchases as “Birkin Bait,” it is not worth your hard earned money to make purchases merely for the sake of being offered a quota bag.

Image Credit: @fashion.style.iryna

Image Credit: @jeaniehon

Image Credit: @mrs_hss

Conclusion

When navigating the luxury world of Hermès, we have the following suggestions:

  1. Only make purchases from your SA in your home boutique.
  2. Do not buy online.
  3. Do not spend outside your budget limits; spend only what you can comfortably afford.
  4. Explore all areas of the boutique, not just leather and scarves.
  5. Send your SA a specific wishlist and keep it updated. State the type of bag and size – Birkin 25 or Kelly 28; hardware choice – gold, palladium, or rose gold; leather color preferences – neutrals, black, gold, pop of color, etc.; and type of leather – togo, clemence, swift, epsom, etc.
  6. Visit your SA regularly –  once a month, twice a quarter, or for a special occasion or holiday.
  7. If you are offered a quota bag, do not feel pressured to accept it.  Your SA wants you to be happy and love your purchase. They may not have your exact specifications but may present an option you never considered. Don’t worry, if you reject the offer you will be offered another bag in the future.

Image Credit: @lvlovercc

Remember: Patience is a virtue. Do not settle. Trust your sales associate…

Love, PurseBop

XO

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