New System in Paris to Buy a Birkin

Paris-Hermes-Sellier

Hermes Fouboug St Honorè. Picture Courtesy:  featherfactor

Purchasing a Birkin in Paris from Hermès Faubourg Saint-Honoré is an exciting but daunting task, especially if one does not know what to expect. Recently, the mothership introduced a new system to manage the lines of requests for leather goods. After your incredible feedback from the Hermes Sales coverage we shared, today we bring you another guide to the new Hermes shopping  system with step by step notes.  We felt it was important to outline exactly what to expect with this new system in place. We reached out to our PurseBop community member @mel_inmelbourne who just returned from Paris, and she shares her experience and advice in articulate detail to help highlight all the changes.

Shopping at FSH with the New System

 

Down below are step-by-step instructions for the new process at FSH for leather goods. This does not apply if you are wanting to buy scarves, jewellery, shoes, ready-to-wear, and other items. This process is for leather goods and bags, especially Birkins and Kellys. The new process came into affect approximately 5-6 weeks ago at the end of June 2016.

Step-By-Step Process

#1 Line up for an appointment time. If possible arrive to the store before it opens. For reference, the store opens at 10:30am.

There are 2 entrances to the store, and you can line up at either entrance. Contrary to previous reports that the side entrance (sellier) is the more favourable entrance (as it is closer to the leather department), I do not believe this is still the case. In my personal experience, when I lined up on 2 occasions before the store opened, I lined up at the main entrance, and on both occasions the main entrance was allowed in before those at the side entrance. I think that this may vary in the future and they could alternate between letting the main entrance in first or the side entrance.

#2 Once inside the store, you will be directed to the appointment line. Depending on the amount of people, you may be in line for up to 1 hour (and yes this is only to secure an appointment time). You will give your passport and mobile number to the SA who will input your details into their appointment booking system. There and then, you will receive a text informing you of your approximate appointment time. It looks like this:

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Note: You will need to refresh this page often as this time will change. It could change anywhere from 10 mins up to even 2 hours later. It is very important that you have an Internet connection as this page is your guide to when your appointment time will be.

#3 Approximately 15 mins before your appointment time, you will receive a 2nd text informing you that your SA is almost available to meet you (see example below)

If you are not already in store, make sure you make your way back quickly.

#4 You will get a 3rd text at the time of your appointment letting you know the name of your SA and where to meet. You will then present this text message to the leather department counter. Your designated SA will be in the area and ready to serve you.

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Tips & Tricks

If you have time, line up 1 hour before the store opens or even earlier. The first 10-15 customers will be allocated an SA right away. Also this way, if you are after items besides a B/K/C or lindy you will get first pick at the available stocks. This is personally how I scored my 2 Rodeo charms and Jige clutch. Furthermore,  if you line up before it opens, the appointment time you will be allocated won’t be set so late in the day, hence reducing the amount of time you need to wait.

If you do not have time to get there when the store opens, ensure you arrive to the store before 12 pm noon, otherwise all appointment times may have already been allocated. Please note, I visited FSH during a very busy period. Euro cup, fashion week coupled with the summer season, may have contributed to the store being extra busy.

From my understanding, if you are a past customer and have an SA you deal with, it may not be possible to see that specific SA. However, you can still request a specific SA and they may be able to accommodate your needs, but it is definitely not guaranteed.

You do not have to hang around the store waiting for your appointment time. You may choose to do so if your appointment is within the hour, but if you have a large gap, explore the nearby stores or grab something to eat. You will still get the 2nd text, which warns you when your appointment time is close.

My Experience

Personally, I did not mind the new system, however keeping that in mind, I did not have a chance to experience the old system. One advantage is that you do not need to stand in line for 2-3 hours, which a couple of the SA’s were telling me was one of the main reasons why the new system was implemented. Additionally, if your appointment time is set later in the day, you can go off and do other things you want to do and come back closer to your appointment time. The disadvantage is that if you do arrive to the store after 12 noon it is likely all the appointments will be gone for the day. Whereas with the previous system, even if you lined up at 4 pm, there could still be a chance of getting an appointment and scoring your dream bag that day. 

I am sure there still maybe future tweaks or modifications as it is such a new system, but this is how it is currently running.

I was a first timer to the FSH store, and overall I did not find it an easy process to score my dream bag. In fact it took me 6 attempts over the 3 stores during my stay. However, in the end it was worthwhile as I did end up getting my holy grail bag which was the B30 Birkin in Malachite Togo leather with palladium hardware.

I’m hoping this advice helps any of you headed to Paris hoping to score…and a special thanks to dear PurseBop for the opportunity to share my experience and meet your lovely readers.

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We’d love to hear your experiences of shopping at FSH with the new system or any stories of shopping in Paris at all. Join us over on BopTalk – your newest destination for fashion conversation! 

Want to read more reader reactions to the recent changes and share what you think too? Click HERE to join the BopTalk conversation.

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64 Responses to “New System in Paris to Buy a Birkin”

  • What are you wonderful experience And thank you for sharing. It sounded like a such exciting experience though

    • Thank so much sweetie, it was quite a process for me to be honest. I didn’t realise it would take so many tries but in the end it all worked out :)

  • Hello girls, I would love to get my first Birkin 30/35, how hard it is to get one in the black togo? thanks

    • Birkin 30/35 in Togo or Clemence or any leather or exotic are the most difficult ones to find and buy successfully. For the Birkin ‘virgin’ black is the basic and the one everyone wants to have in her collection. For us French women, you can never own too much black so I myself own a black togo 35 with gold hardware, a SoBlack 35 in box limited VIP edition, and a black 30 lizard. But with this new stupid number system who knows–you may be lucky.

    • Hi Renata,
      It was my first time to Paris FSH and as per my story, it took me 6 tries across the 3 stores. I have however heard that some 1st timers were able to get a Birkin or Kelly on their 1st or 2nd try. I wish we knew how Hermes actually decides who is able to purchase one or not. I know that people that have a buying history there tend to get offered these bags without too much effort. However I can only tell you from my experience whilst I was there that many people were told that no B or K’s were available when they asked. I think from a 1st timer’s point of view it’s a mixture of luck and the sales associate that you get on the day. Good luck lovely I hope you score your black Birkin! :)

      • I definitely agree, luck or whim or maybe which side someone got out of bed in the morning! Happy for anyone who gets their desire! Bon chance!

    • I actually got a Birkin 30 in black togo with GHW on my first try at Paris FSH. It was the end of December 2015 during my honeymoon trip – I arrived the store with my husband at around 3/4pm and lined up for an hour+ (under the old system). It was my first bag purchase in FSH so you can imagine how ecstatic I was when the SA offered me the black Birkin (in the exact size, leather, hardware that I wanted too)!!! I have no idea how I was so lucky to score one, on my first day in Paris (of this trip) and my first try. I also saw people in the line before me being turned away for B/K so I cannot share as to why/how the SAs decide on who to offer the bags to (I wish I knew!).

      PS – It was not my first time to FSH; I have been to the store numerous times over the last few years, but was never offered any bags until this time.

  • Mel, what a beautiful colour and enjoy your Malachite! Thank you for this detailed information. I am a 3rd generation Hermes client and I am sure that my grandmother and mother are turning over in their graves at this concept of a lottery! My two friends and I must have just missed the implementation at St Honore mothership because we had a lovely and what used to be normal experience. I am French and Parisian and even I do not bother going into St Honore or other Hermes shops often anymore–definitely never on Saturday or a Christmas time! My two younger friends are from USA and for one she was a Birkin virgin on the Thursday afternoon we walked in. I had asked on the phone for my usual salesman to be told that after 20 years he has left the store; my backup sales person has retired and my 3rd choice had moved to fine jewellry!! So we started in fine jewellry and still bought two birkins and one kelly without this new system. On Friday on Rive Gauche in the morning we left with 1 birkin, 1 kelly and 1 tutti fruity—a lovely quiet experience for each of us and then we had champagne in the Hermes coffee shop —- the champagne and tea or coffee was lovely–skip the over priced and tasteless pastries and head for Laduree!

    As a regular client–note I still use the original term because we are not customers but clients—I am aghast at this new system of depersonalization and deployment. Yes, the lines (which I must admit never standing in) were long and crowded and for those of us already being seated and waited upon distracting and annoying. Why you ask? Because paying at least US$6000 for a handbag should be a special experience and not one that induces STRESS! Secondly, no one enjoys hundred people staring at them with the angry “who does she think she is, why doesn’t she hurry up, why is he showing her a Kelly, etc” face. Thirdly, no one likes strangers hanging over them while they try to decide which bag to take and any small leather goods with a salesperson. Fourth, shopping should make you SMILE not make you angry!

    It used to be very special to see your salesperson, have coffee or champagne, pick up your special order or podium order and then see what else was available for purchase that day in handbags and small leather goods. You also used to be able to have a casual yet friendly conversation with the sales person and inquire as to his vacation, his family, his dog and vice versa.

    Now this will be gone!! PFT! Grrrr! And definitely forcing customers to have internet connection smart phones while tourists in Paris is not nice and expensive and troublesome. I might take a number at the deli or greengrocer but for a handbag, non!

    It might be more pleasant for first time buyers of Hermes handbags but it certainly takes away from the Princess-like atmosphere of your first purchase! So if you just insist on buying your handbag from the mothership I bet you are feeling good about being a number and maybe being able to buy a bag of your choice at St Honore. Good luck and I hope you enjoy yourself.

    As for me, it is sounding just too grueling and depersonalized—-no magic in being texted or having a number like a deli! I do remember my first purchase of a Kelly over 35 years ago and it was so very special and idyllic an experience and this was way before birkin or kelly were ‘it’ bags.

    It is sad that my grand daughter will not be able to share the same experience that her mother or her grandmother or great grandmother enjoyed—it was a right of passage!

    It is also sad for you tourists and first time shoppers like Mel to have a different set of obstacles to buying your holy grail bags. But I think you might think me a snob or elitist or old fashioned. Hermes is an EPV French brand—that means it is a heritage brand with a long history of craftsmanship and French know-how. The colours, the skins, the workmanship is what makes the handbags valauable and appreciated. You should be able to enjoy the full experience and care—and if you do not and only have this system, I am sorry. I hope this makes sense in English–it does in French!

    And somehow it will be interesting to see how people figure out to cheat this system as well. As for me, I now buy my Hermes scarves in Cannes or Nice or London so it sounds as if I shall now buy bags outside of Paris too!

    • I love your article, I was born and raised in Switzerland but live in the US, I grew up hearing about Hermès, I have a few scarves myself but I can’t imagine any Swiss ladies or me going to this kind of experience..and no, you are not a snob at all, you are an elegant, Parisienne, stylish and we both have the same perspective on how a purchase should be made and I am 100 percent thinking like you, I remember going to the Hermès store with my mother in Crans-Montana, no line involved, going right in, a lovely SA taking care of us and going for coffee afterwards…that’s is how shopping should be..no other way…

      • Yes, I agree with you wholeheartedly. Please see my update above. Personally, I have always loved Crans Montana and the Hermes boutique there too. After so many months of awful pollution in Paris I am thinking I shall go for the spring or maybe in July for the horses. And this might make you laugh or be totally aghast. One of my small darling dogs unceremoniously decided to jump into the lovely fountain for a swim one hot July day the last time we were there! But then, she did have on her Hermes collier and triangle scarf! Happy 2017!

    • Hello Sarah, I appreciate you taking the time to express your feelings and opinions. It’s enlightening to hear the perspective of a 3rd generation Hermes client. I would like to share your response in an upcoming article. Is that alright with you?
      PurseBop
      XO

      • Dear PurseBop,

        My apologies for this very delayed response but it has been a very grueling time again in Europe as well as for me personally. I also wanted to see what would happen near to Christmas with the decrease in tourism in Paris to see if there were any new concessions or whatever the Hermes maison is labelling their changes for 2017.

        I certainly permit you to share my response and comments in an upcoming article about Hermes and my experience. I would prefer if you did NOT use my nom de famille (surname) so that in the increasingly strange Hermes “systems” I do not experience any retribution. And sadly, yes, in talking with my peers in Paris and London several of us most loyal clients of Hermes I been chastised for our “disloyalty and punished for criticism” of the EPV brand. To me, this is what happens when you let new MBAs and Marcom people who have had no real life experiences and no sense of history lay out ‘procedures’ and requirements for Hermes shoppers.

        Of course, Hermes will deny that there is any such thing as a waiting list. There in reality is a waiting list but it is capricious and unclear as to how one gets on such a glorified list in Paris or London or New York or Geneva. Of course, Hermes will tell you that you are offered WITHOUT FAVORITISM what handbags are available on any given day (this is a BIG LIE). The real shocking fact is that even long term clients such as myself are being what I would call poorly treated by inexperienced sales personnel and/or jaded managers. The thought has always been that the more you buy outside of the handbag and leather department, the better your chance of obtaining a Birkin or a Kelly. Again, this does not seem to be happening on a regular basis.

        I dare say increasingly it is simply a matter of blind LUCK or some sales person or manager whims as to whom is shown and allowed to buy Kelly or Birkins on any given day. I have discussed these comments with other of my friends who probably purchase at least one birkin and/or one kelly per year plus scarves, jewellry, perfumes, household items, etc on a regular YEARLY basis. So it is not just my imagination.

        Because of my profession in the apparel and design industry I am very aware that Hermes is an EPV company. This is historically a very important designation for a company in France and acknowledges the tradition of history, workmanship, and contributions to French culture and economy—Hermes is therefore a “living heritage” company (so is Chanel and LVMH these days as are many of the leather tanneries). Most of the current sales and management staff have no idea what EPV means or of this important tradition because it is not necessary to know much these days when demand is so high and no one comprehends history or quality.

        I note several of your readers complained about service in the London Bond Street store. I have a flat in UK too and speak fluent French, English plus 5 other languages and never shop in blue jeans or lingerie. However, I also NEVER step foot in the Bond Street store because they have the most rude and stuck-up sales personnel of any Hermes boutique I have exprienced worldwide. I do frequent the Hermes boutique in Selfridges where there is more polite staff and not such big lines—however, that boutique has had a total turnover in staff and managers over the past year. And the unknown results of the Brexit vote seem to be making prices in UK slightly lower than prices in Paris—or maybe it was just the exchange rates the day I shopped.

        Frankly, I have been staying away from the ‘mothership’ on FSH in Paris because I am also finding the lines, new systems, etc. too annoying and depersonalized to put up with. And yes, that is from me, a 3rd generation client who used to LOVE the shopping experience and the drama of unwrapping the orange box at the FSH boutique! I am much happier and more relaxed shopping on Rive Gauche, Rue de Sevres boutique which is carved out of an old art deco hotel swimming pool and where I think the salespeople are more gracious. My 2nd choice in Paris is the boutique on Avenue George V on Rive Droite near the George V hotel. But then I am lucky in being able to travel within Europe so I do find the Hermes shops in Crans Montana, Geneva, Nice, Bordeaux as giving me much more ‘fun’ Hermes shopping experience. I have not shopped Hermes in NYC, LA or San Francisco in many years so I shall not comment on what current status or procedures are there.

        I have discussed these comments above with other of my friends who probably purchase at least one birkin and/or one kelly per year plus scarves, jewellry, perfumes, household items, etc on a regular YEARLY basis. So it is not just my imagination! As long term clients, we miss “the old days” of knowledgeable staff and respect for our commitments and amount spent with the brand.

        And yes, this is a bit “elitist” but I have to agree with one of my male friends who easily spends euros 60,000 yearly at Hermes when he says he now hates shopping at FSH! So he and I went to Rue de Sevres in early December to buy our Christmas gifts for family, friends and ourselves together speaking perfect French and just kept rolling our eyes and speaking in a third language softly as we listened to the level of misinformation and bs being spoken by sales associates. But yes, we each succeeded in placing special orders for 2017 in colours and leathers of our choice and in leaving with a Kelly, a jige, numerous scarves, perfumes and some little “H” items.

        I have also talked with my friends about the SALE in January in Paris at Porte Maillot and for 2nd year in a row several of us are just skipping it. It used to be great fun and the great equalizer but it is now drudgery to us. Perhaps this is the factor of age or being time starved like my daughters. And yes, we miss the Eurostar ride that let us hit the London and the Paris sales events and even journeyed as far as NYC when they were still held there. Yes, there are bargains IF you are open minded about your wants/needs. But I have a very common shoe size (39) and glove size (7.25 or 7.50) and dislike being shoved so that the sale experience is not as meaningful as it used to be.

        And to conclude this “update” of my original comments, although we know Hermes is a heritage brand, there are many more heritage companies in France to cater to our tastes and whims much more than Hermes does these days. So many of us are switching to ‘sur mesure’ or bespoke designs and design companies for our new loving shopping experiences. Yes, where you can make a RDV at your convenience, sit down with champagne and/or coffee with the artisan and/or designer, and discuss what you, the client, actually wants. Very often these artisans will ‘tweak’ their designs to accommodate our special needs and requests. For example, I prefer two zippered compartments inside my handbags instead of the one zip and one open in Hermes birkins and kellys. I always have ordered wider straps with Kellys because I find the narrow thin straps uncomfortable and annoying.
        For gloves, I can go to an artisan glove maker in Paris who uses the same leather tanneries as Hermes or Chanel and have a glove made to my actual hand measurements—thus my reference above to 7.25 size gloves while Hermes only offers full and half sizes.

        So if you are wanting your first birkin or kelly, do not despair. You may be lucky enough to get one on your first or second or third attempt. But also know that there is a mystique that you (and I and my daughters and friends) buy into that forces us often to put up with rudeness and inconvenience. Hermes is the ‘holy grail’ of handbag experience. But please realize that there are many other beautiful handbags, belts, small leather goods, and hand painted scarves to see and to enjoy buying in Paris. As a Parisian I do not want your entire shopping experience or trip to Paris to be consumed and judged by how you are treated and what is made available to you at Hermes. Bonne annee–peace, prosperity, love, health to you all in 2017! And may all your Hermes dreams come true!

        P.S. My comments above reflect my personal experiences and point of view. I have been asked to share these with you. Therefore, I shall appreciate it if I am not “trolled” or “flamed” for being honest and rather more direct than I would be in my native French.

        • Agreed Bond st. service is terrible, to be honest I finding luxury store service in general are bad in Paris. I’m lucky to travel a lot too and I’ve found many stores outside of the capitals with great service including some airport Hermes, and I was able to find many gems during my accidental Hermes visits :) I guess for K/B/Constance you probably have to shop in capital cities or large boutiques, I only like Kelly and I don’t mind buying from reseller so I’m not that bothered, even if I do I still refuse to be treated badly. I noticed that Chanel has started to use this strategy recently, I just got turned down for buying a few brooches at Bond st. since they said I bought too much within the last few months,WTF? For costume jewelleries?! I was really mad so eventually they let me but them! Probably just a Bond st thing, I rarely shop there and I won’t be again after this! Will file a complaint to Chanel head office for sure! Going to Paris next week, I understand for Americans or Asians, it’s worthwhile because if the money they can save, but as a Londoner, I shall be happy to spend my money on good French food than leather!

          • Sindy, my reference to Bond Street is to Hermes store in London not in Paris. As for rude personnel in luxury Paris boutiques, I do have some definite observations from experiences in Hermes, Chanel, Cartier, and Bon Marche. Do you speak French? Or at least to try to say hello or thank you in French? It goes a long way as an “ice breaker”. Do you walk into the boutique with the I am god, I have lots of money, you are peasants here to serve me attitude? Do you know anything about the history of any of the luxury brands—artisan values, types of leathers, etc? Do you speak politely in English or in your own language–from your photo and last name I would guess that you may speak English and/or Chinese. All luxury boutiques in Paris have English speaking sales people. All Chanel, Hermes, Cartier, YSL, Lanvin boutiques in Paris and Nice have Chinese Mandarin speaking sales staff. Therefore, it might be easier or more comfortable for you to speak in a language and ask questions not in French.

            Do you know that no French person would walk into any store–even a tabac–without saying “Bon jour” to the sales person as they enter? Or “merci” as they exit? Have you ever tried doing this in the French tradition? Perhaps you should. If you do NOT, we consider you rude and ignorant—this is not particularly a “racist” comment if you are referring merely to skin color. French persons would consider French people who do not do these greetings as rude, ignorant and ‘de classe’,

            It is nice that you can afford overpriced pieces from re-sellers. Again, to me this cheapens the brand and ruins the real experience of the drama of unwrapping your coveted Hermes in an Hermes (or Chanel or Cartier) boutique with your sales person. But then you are the ‘keep up with the Jones’ generation and I am a traditionalist who has grown up around and with haute couture.

          • I’m British darling!!! Speak some French as I lived in Monaco and I travel to France from time to time for business! As I said, I found stores outside Paris with better service. I shop anywhere the way I would shop, no matter high street or luxury as I respect everyone works in the service industry and I think all customers deserve respect from service ppl too. So you think I can’t be 3rd gen of luxury buyer just because of my surname?! My gosh…..even if I am, looking down on someone based on marterial possessions is pure low class behaviour! However, from your assumption, it’s easy to guess why the French SA can be so racist and arrogant. About reseller, I also sell my luxury goods if no longer in use, as I’d rather they go to good homes and I think that’s a way of respecting the products, its better they are used than wasted in my wardrobe! Your stuck up attitude is what’s wrong with France at the moment, let’s not go there as this is not a sociological post. although I personally don’t like certain group of ‘aspiring buyers’ either, the luxury industry depend on them, Harrods open store at night time for a client from China who spend £1million in one go, I guess you won’t be able to keep up with that level of ‘Jones’ no? you can dislike them but you cannot deny the need for them. All in all, Insulting someone and make assumptions based on someone’s surname or race is just plain low-class!

          • Oh dear! I made no “assumptions” about you being able to be a “third generation” Hermes client of not. And you are clearly not from the way you wear your chapeau. And certainly it would be silly to deny you are Chinese origins with your name. But this blog is about purses and not your racial and low class slurs!

            I do not keep up with any Jones, or Wong or Gates or Nissam!

            And I stand by my suggestions for those reading this blog who want ideas of how to ENJOY their shopping experiences in Paris luxury boutiques or any other French stores—a little bit of courtesy and cross cultural understanding goes a long long way in making your experience more enjoyable and less drudgery and/or unhappy.

            To have so much angst and anger at your young age possibly makes it difficult for you to enjoy many experiences.

          • Hi Sindy Liu,
            Honestly lately I have been very shocked and displeased how service is really bad, in general, in big brand name stores in the US or in Europe and I had to change LV store and wait a few weeks to finally have a great service in Zürich , verses Crans-Montana, which was right next to where I was in Switzerland, so France is not worse..I don’t know what is happening or how those SA or even their Managers have the guts to treat customers like that, but I also see the nouveau riche, and their low class attitude in those stores and it makes me want to run away…maybe the SA are at their ends with rich, rude and sometimes low class tourists..I think society has tremendously change and walking in a luxury store is no longer what it used to be…

          • Yes it has gotten worse! maybe too many tourists from ‘new’ luxury markets….but still, I think it’s the retailers’ job to adapt to that, after all they’re in the service industry so it’s their jobs to cope with the changes in consumers. We should not be suffering because the SAs cannot be bothered to be polite to everyone, right? generally speaking, I’d say stay away from the flagship stores at capital cities, in London for instance, I feel Sloane Street stores offer much much better service than Bond street! and I just heard from a friend that the George V store and Sevres store in Paris are much more friendly! although the mother ship apparently has more Birkin/Kelly/Constance, but I’m not sure if that’s just a rumour to push all the non-EU tourists to there.

          • I think that the managers at the top–the recent MBAs are part of the problem. They have sales goals that mean pressure on front line sales people and that some departments are always almost out of stock. For Hermes, they must keep the mystique of shortages of handbags yet they sell some on Internet (not Kelly not Birkin). However, you cannot find a belt nor a small leather good easily at any boutique. Why because the OTB (open to buy) is kept by the managers for the big ticket items! So where I once could walk into any Hermes boutique and buy a belt for my buckles or a new style belt for spring or a gift wallet or card case, now there is virtually no selection.

            For Paris, please dont tell too many people about George V or it will be over run too! I know that is selfish of me but I really dislike shopping at airport stores! LOL.

            Sales associates turnover is very high because they are not paid enough to put up with rudeness and the hoi polloi! And careers in sales are not encouraged now whereas they once were rewarded by upper management. So we are left with lines and complaints or sur mesure which many of us are finding a much more rewarding experience overall. To be honest I am much happier with my new sur mesure (custom) handbag at 30 cm with 2 internal zips and one subtle external zip at front length of boarding pass and width of passport than I could ever be by any Hermes or Chanel handbag or tote. The leather is from same prestige tannery used by Hermes and Chanel; I chose the hardware for strength and colour; the strap is right width and adjustable if I have on a fur or want to carry cross chest through airport or gare; and I don’t have to wait for 1 year for a special order!! I sat down with the designer, had some lovely champagne, his assistant did measurements, etc etc and 6 weeks later I had perfection without stress and for less expense. The first Kelly or Birkin is a “goal” but after that it is an option to enjoy your real luxury experience. Bon chance!

          • LOL re the GV store. I find Hermes’ online service excellent! I love online shopping :) maybe it’s a generation thing, I’m not very young but British have adapted into digital rather well I think. I quite like airport stores because I’ve managed to find quite a few gems during my travel with good service, maybe just being lucky…. I agree with what you said about the ‘goal’ thing which I think it’s the case for many people, esp. they’re from outside EU and they think it’s particularly ‘fancy’ to score one at the mother ship store. I’m also a lover for unique brands and I think customization is the true luxury such as bespoked Savile Row suits or jewellery. I feel bad for the SA in a way since I worked in luxury retail when I was a student, so I know it’s a tough job working for a busy store. I think commission based system can work well but of course it may create problems too, sigh….

          • We probably should do this via email! And not take up so much space on the blog! I have no idea or desire to use Instagram and that is a generational thing. And a rabid belief that the more one exposes oneself online, the more spies/governments know about you (very French I guess or very 1968!!) FYI: My gran was a couturier and my first work was with YSL haute couture in his prime!! And show seasons were total insanity and 22 hour days for weeks and weeks—which would make current generation commit suicide! And I have worked on commissions both retail and as distributor—-at retail I think commissions are workable and fair—each sales person has a target and when that target is met, then commission starts, so it is a reward for service!

            Yes, Hermes website is interesting but…..And just now I completed a internet order via telephone because of my fear of fraud with using my cards online! Plus I happily spoke to small supplier and was able to buy two items which were showing as “out of stock” on their website!! I could not buy really expensive items on line—touch/feel, see, smell, hearing, taste are such valuable senses. Buy a fur online—insanity! True colours impossible, etc etc. Sun is out here so glorious and now I must decide which H scarves to pack for Paris for Easter holidays!

          • Yes let’s do that! Seems we can share a lot of interesting ‘findings’ of the luxury/fashion industry lol if you use face book you can add me, or [email protected] (double ‘L’) WOW re YSL that must be an amazing experience, I used to know two ppl working there during Stephano Pilati era but left after Heidi Slimane took over, it’s a completely different brand….anyway please get in touch, it’ll be interesting to hear your opinions. I’m also a freelance fashion writer so it’s always a pleasure to meet people who truly understand fashion/luxury especially French :) I’ll be really appeticiated to hear from you. Thanks to Silviya for bearing with us and thanks to Mel and others for sharing xx

          • Great, I’ll do email—I am from a by gone era. But then my other grandmother went to tea dances at the Peace Hotel in Shanghai in the days that the only Hermes store was on FSH.

            YSL, another brand ruined by greed, bad production, and designers who only know how to be shocking! Or try to be! But I am from the days when Yves and Pierre and all of us created and re-created and knew fabrics, sequins, etc. And our clients each had Wolff forms. And then the first seasons of prêt-à-porter with all the freedom of 60s!

            Pinault and Kering, Arnault and LVMH/Christian Dior are the reasons behind the demise of true luxury and EPV maisons. They employed designers and QC such as Slimane who actually did not understand why it is WRONG, just WRONG to put an acetate lining in a linen and silk blend blazer!!! Enough said or maybe not because the cult of the designer and the downfall of the technicians and designers who understood fabric and yarn and leather specs has a lot to do with our main topic of where goes luxury?

          • Haha I finally found someone like me I need to ser the material and mostly feel it, the feel is the yes or no…if not no need to go further…

          • Sadly walking into a luxury store is no longer a luxury—a happy experience where you indulged yourself and all your senses!

          • I am glad to know it’s not just me feeling this way, it seems like little by little pleasures of live are been taken away from us, even to the smallest things like having a cup of tea in Ladurée, you are looked at like you are bothering them, it just happened to me in Geneva..

    • Hi Sara,

      First of all thank you for the congrats and yes I am very much enjoying using my new beauty :)

      It is so interesting to read about your experience and I wish that we all could have that same experience whilst shopping at Hermes FSH. I am personally quite new to Hermes and when I visit the boutique in Melbourne, I am always treated very well by all the sales associates. However to be able to buy a Birkin or Kelly here, unless you are considered a VVIP the waiting list is 2+ years long.

      The Birkin has always been a dream bag of mine, so when I knew we were planning a family holiday to Paris I began researching forums on the best way to score a Birkin or Kelly. From reading about others experiences on forums I knew for a first timer like me, it may not be an easy experience. Little did I know when I arrived the whole system had changed and everything that I had read about was thrown out the window.

      As Paris and Japan are one of the only places of which I have heard you are able to skip the waiting lists and score a Birkin or Kelly, I guess I was willing to try a few times in order to be able to get my dream bag. Furthermore the prices in Europe are significantly cheaper than that of Australia.

      I completely agree with you in that when you are spending so much money on a bag, you would like the experience to be memorable and special, and not feel like you are just a number. I also do not like the way for 1st timers like myself I feel like there is a little game playing happening. I do think if you are a regular client like yourself that this new process may not apply to you especially if you have established a great relationship with a sales associate.

      I do not think you are a snob or old fashioned at all lovely. I think that you have experienced great personalised service from Hermes so hearing that the system has changed would be quite shocking. Although I did try a few times, overall I thoroughly enjoyed my stay in Paris. We planned it in a way that we were able to do everything we wanted but still also planned some time to try for my holy grail. I am hoping that sharing my experience and a detailed guide on the new process, would assist those planning on visiting the mothership in hopes of buying their dream bag.

      Thank you again for taking the time to share your opinion and thoughts. Wishing you a great weekend :)
      x Mel

      • Dear Mel, I hope your are still enjoying your bag and purchases. Did you find any orange boxes under your tree? I hope so!

        My newest grand daughter received her first Hermes little cashmere booties and the 2 year old received her first little H animal.

        As you may see from my update below, I managed to avoid Christmas lines at Hermes and we did get to purchase most of our gift goals without the numbers and rdvs—but again this was first week in December and I was on crutches with a big cast so even the most heartless sales person probably took mercy on me.

        Good luck in January if you fly over for the SALE! I have not heard of any special new rules but just be prepared for lines! Bonne annee!

    • Dear Sara,

      What an interesting experience you have! You are blessed to be a 3rd generation Hermes lover and client and I hope they do their best to keep you happy and feeling special because this is what makes them a great brand- looking after their loyal clients!

      I believe the new system does not apply to you as you have already an established relationship with the brand.
      Also, I think that for French people the system is different, especially Parisians. Even if they are not clients already, and the store does not have the right Birkin or Kelly in stock, they get to choose the leather, colour, size and can order the bag and receive it within a few weeks.

      • Dear Silviya,

        Basically I do not think there is a real system at all! Just luck and whim even for us Parisians who are long time clients!

        However, I can assure you that your last sentence is very incorrect! To be able to select the leather, colour, size of a handbag at Hermes would be a special order. And even with my long history with the maison/house I have NEVER received a ‘special order’ within a “few weeks”! Even I would probably faint dead away if this happened!!!

        And even long time clients “lose” advantage of real relationships with sales persons as they either retire or are moved to different departments.

        I wish you best of luck in 2017–I sincerely hope you obtain the bag of your dreams because they are beautiful and an investment.

    • The luxury SA in general esp in Paris are very “racist”, they tend to be very rude deliberately to certain nationalities that I don’t want to reveal (Not only Hermes). They’re kinder to French (like you would expect in France in general lol) Yes it’s for protecting the brand in a way, but it’s a RETAIL business so deal with it! It’s soooo sad to see so many handbag slaves are willing to be treated like this. But well, luxury branding is a mental game and can’t deny Hermes is on the top of this game.

      • @Sindy Liu, please see above my earlier response regarding “rude” and “racist” accusations. There is a long non-French, tourist tradition of calling French waiters or salespeople or passerbys as “rude”. Now with the snowflakes and phoney liberals the word “racist” is often used or substituted. But then all pc people consider everyone else racist!

        Of course sales people in Paris or France are “kinder” to French speakers—there is always a level of comfortability with people who speak your native language.

        And you make a failed attempt considering your photo and your last name at not accusing French sales people about being “racist” towards Chinese customers. Perhaps it is the attitudes of the foreign customers? Perhaps it is the fact that coachloads of tourists enter luxury boutiques en masse and demand demand demand immediate attention and only want the “newest style” or if Hermes a birkin or a kelly??

        I personally have been in the Chanel boutique on Rue Cambon and had a Chinese Cantonese speaking tourist grab at the handbag my regular Chanel sales person was showing me—actually attempt to grab it out of the sales person’s hands!! This behaviour may be acceptable in flea markets or in other countries but it left 5 French people (2 sales plus 3 clients) in wide eyed shock!

        And again, I suggest that if tourists/foreign customers show some respect and maturity and understanding of French cultural behaviors, you might just have a better shopping experience. Do you know that no French person would walk into any store–even a tabac–without saying “Bon jour” to the sales person as they enter? Or “merci” as they exit? Have you ever tried doing this in the French tradition? Perhaps you should. If you do NOT, we consider you rude and ignorant—this is not particularly a “racist” comment if you are referring merely to skin color. French persons would consider French people who do not do these greetings as rude, ignorant and ‘de classe’.

        I spent over 30 years working in Asia Pacific–primarily China, Hong Kong and Singapore during the early days of the China trade. So if the French are racist, please tell what the Chinese are who have total disdain for “gweilo” and blacks and charge all of the non Chinese customers a higher price than they charge Chinese?

        And your reference while looking down your nose at other “handbag slaves” willing to put up with lines or rudeness or systems of distribution is totally absurd when you are a “slave” willing to pay premium prices through re-sellers for the hand bags you crave, covet, demand.

        I only wish the luxury brands, French and Italian and British, had done more to protect their brands and the concept of luxury than they have. But in the end they are retailers and they have sales targets to meet.

        • I agree many “nouvelle riche” people are super annoying and rude, and I really hate those ppl too! But I think it’s important for SA to speak to individuals before making that judgement, I have encountered very unpleasant experience in Paris before and it was a different story the next when I went back to complaints with the store manager with British passport (I don’t get tax refund so I don’t carry passport with me). I adore Hermes esp their attention to detail so I actually like their accessories more, anyway, I know they’re “forced” to use certain strategy, but you’ve got to admit Parisians are not particularly friendly to non-French ppl. The only reason I joined in this discussion is because I’m in Paris again soon and my cousin begged me to check a few bags for her and I’ve heard the new ‘system’ so I googled and this post came up! I was intrigued by your view and we obviously share many agreements, perhaps we both misunderstood certain parts of eacgbother’s conversation :) I apologize about the France comment I know many lovely French people but I think even they agree that Parisians (probably the whole France) should improve their service level when facing foreigners! Re Vestiaire – that’s the only few places I trust and I actually know one of the owner :) anyway, let’s enjoy what the brands got to offer, as someone working in luxury/fashion, I know they’re already doing their best to protect brands. And with what’s going on in some parts of the world right now, we should all be grateful to live in relatively peaceful countries with good lifestyle. Sorry don’t mean to pep talk lol I wish you well :)

          • @ Sindy Liu Oui, we probably share more points of view than one might think. Anyhow, maybe it is the elections but here in France we are tired of the “racist” slurs and the government insisting for us to be “more friendly”—as if we are to blame for terrorism and insanity of illegal migration and related attacks on tourists. I just don’t think there is a sure system to FSH or Hermes anymore—just simply luck and some salespersons mood.

            And if you read some of my other posts, I stay away from FSH and much prefer the smaller boutiques for most of the grand luxury brands. And Paris, like most capital or major cities is super stressful, so the sales people, taxi drivers, waiters, etc can be either super stressed and rude or really nice. That said, except for Hermes Bond Street which I shall always equate with the most rude and uninformed of all Hermes boutiques, the one in Geneva is no prize either and you might recall an incident several years ago with a black USA television personality in a jogging suit who screamed “racism” for weeks.

            But then, I would never dream of walking into any Hermes, Chanel, Cartier, Lanvin, etc boutique in a jogging suit!! Even with my blue eyes and white and blonde hair! Cringe at jogging suits.

            I am believing more and more in the wheel of fortune or just luck about everything—we you are born, health, etc etc.

          • Haha the key fashion trend right now is sportswear and juicy couture is back on the rack of Selfridges lol I do get frustrated about the fashion/luxury world sometimes as I can feel their pain of meeting the demand of nouvelle riche while maintaining their loyal customer base. The milllennials are a different animal to market to as well….about France, I think the country is facing a turning point, so is the world I guess, but I feel France is a bit like China in certain aspects, too proud of its past and hard to let go some of their “culture”, I was born in China and have got back in touch with my roots in recent years though my work as it’s THE luxury market every brand to target at, and at the same time, I have a love/hate relationship with France including French men lol I’m glad you have worked in Asia and i understand it can be very frustrating, every time I’m back I was like “what should I do?” lol I love London because of it’s diversity and tolerance, as long as you stay away from Bond st. Lol ps. what’s your Instagram? Mine is Sindy_Fashionnerd – do get in touch if you wish to :) maybe better not to ruin Silviya’s post ha~

          • Was that Oprah you referring too?
            Me neither haha, I would never live my apartment with a jogging suit as a matter of fact, I never go out with sneakers either unless I go and work out, and take them out right away, I think being Européennes, we just grew up differently..
            And the stress of your election, is tremendous, I followed it closely when I was in Switzerland for 5 weeks a couple weeks ago..reminds me of the mess we had here: Bonne chance!

          • Hi dear, ah yes, you remembered. It was Oprah and such a fuss. Apparently her secretary once called FSH and demanded that they stay open after hours for her shopping pleasure and she was told simply, “No madame”. I think even the Kardasians and their entourage shop during regular hours but are taken upstairs into the back at FSH—but then how they dress I shall not comment. No jogging clothes or tennies! I never even leave my arrondisement in jeans! However, I have stopped wearing matching shoes and handbags and gloves and chapeaus–LOL. My mother and grandmother wore those until the day they died but had great fur capes and coats too but it was a much more elegant age.

            Our election is a zoo! Maybe the world will just implode before I buy my Himalaya exotic!!! That would save money and stress! Just kidding–in exotic my next one would be shiny croc in deep purple/aubergine with gold hardware. Take care!

          • You are to funny but so right, I don’t understand the fuss about the no class Kardashian’s either..your upcoming croc sounds fabulous, hope you get it soon and show us the picture !! Bonne nuit !! And yes the way things are going it may all implode !!who knows ????????

          • Well, I just do not fathom reality TV or walking around in my underwear in public and I try to keep my sense of humour!! As for the croc—still on my bucket/dream list not ordered from either Hermes or sur mesure yet. I want a new sofa and a gun turret on my terrace first. I will always have such mixed memories of Crans Montana and my darling dog horrifying the Swiss by jumping into the fountain for a cool off one summer. Now to work on some class action data today. Merci.

          • The dog would of make me laugh, Crans Montana is not like it used to be, it was my place to go from childhood and on and each time I was going back but that got ruin by nouveau riche also sadly and they need to make improvements, bonne journée

          • My dogs make every one laugh and especially me! They usually run away from orange colored boxes in panic and hide under tables–this one photo being the exception.

            As for Crans, too bad. Russian mob? or whom? I have not been there since July 2009 so it has been a long time I guess. My friend still had a very large chalet there but has since sold it and moved to Il Maurice. And her mother had the best collection of Hermes scarves that I have ever seen—as in hundreds every size and colour and fabric!

            I was there for the riding show and the town was buzzing, hotels full, restaurants packed, lots of very rich horsey set, and plenty of Hermes boots and saddles and riding crops! https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/0ebe4e7f004f8703adfaefd210e6e39b156fd61d15edf51ddf55e58a13a7af1d.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/9ce66b55945332db6fea1182187004145329044fcd01845109844748690bc5bd.jpg

            Hard for me to imagine nouveau riche with the Hermes saddles and real riding gear—the boots everyone wears even if they have never been near a horse!!

            I was originally going to Paris for Hermes June sale but new kitchen going into flat and I must watch workers!!

            Are you in Europe or USA? I am back to Paris in May then back to UK and Scotland and to Cannes in August and Paris in September. This year I want to stay warm!

          • I am in Florida, but was born and raised in Sierre just below Crans as I am sure you already passed by..You put your finger on it, the Russian mob is correct haha. The Italian aristocrats which used to own chalets or apartments for so long started to sell them years ago because they refused to mix with the Russians, my sister in law works for a lawyer, she is Sicilian so she used to go to Crans each year in December to help him with translation, that is how I found out..I was there about 1 month ago and I realized that Chanel is no longer there, they moved out of Crans completely, Chanel was there my whole life…LV has moved to their spot…LV Sa was very nice but never follow through and when I questioned her, I got a not so nice email from her Manager,, which I didn’t appreciate so I called LV in Zürich and I went to buy my bag there and I had a phenomenal experience, when I told Crans that I bought my bag I never heard from them again haha, so even though it’s close from home where I go regularly you know they won’t see me again, I don’t buy often but when I do I want to be respected. Hermes is still there, but very small selection even in their scarves, I remember how they used to have so many colors for their scarves that it was difficult to choose, but their service is good, then again I was there off season and my friend was interested in a bag not me..their selection in bags was next to nothing but you can order through them directly, but I don’t like that..I want to see first..The overall quality of the stores there has gone down, which really bothers me, remember Taillens for tea, coffee or pastries…that too is no longer what it was…only place I still like is the Caviar House.
            But it’s really difficult for me to see those changes because I am really used to go there a lot since childhood, with my Dad and we used to go and watch curling, it was stylish and elegant, it is a beautiful place and really the only place in my big State where you can find luxury stores, otherwise Lausanne is pretty far out of the way..again everything goes and it’s very sad as you know…

          • Sigh. Am I about to commit the ‘sin’ of saying that it was not like this in the ‘old days’ but better? Sadly it–life, luxury shopping, quality, person to person interactions, etc–were ALL better! In Paris the choices seem to be Russian mafia or Qataris on spending sprees with no budgets plus stars of movies and reality TV with no taste! Well, at least we shall be able to buy some excellent caviar! But Crans without a Chanel boutique!! And the Hermes boutique has always been tiny but the choices were sublime and very often colors you could not find in Paris.

            So my major query to everyone on this blog is:

            If luxury shopping is such a chore/so much work, can we call it luxury anymore?

          • Not a sin at all, I would be the first one to say it..the old days were so much better…Lots of Arabic people in Crans too, ..I saw a store where they used to sell Escada shoes and clothes for many years ( across from Caviar house)) turned into a custom jewelry store, but a tasteless one, I think, that day is when I realized Crans was not Crans anymore and it really was painful…And I will say to you, I am not sure it’s luxury anymore, sadly…I too remember as a child/ teenager how shopping with my Mom was all about real luxury…

  • I dream of having a B someday but I am not sure I want to subject myself to all that, I don’t want to become some sort of a puppet (sorry) to buy a bag. if I am, for example, on vacation in Paris, I want to enjoy my time, I totally understand the demand is way beyond the production, but even with an IPhone 6, my last Paris stay ( internet connection) was not memorable … I love Hermès, You bag is gorgeous.
    But this system doesn’t fit right with me..awesome and very informative article ????

      • @Sindy Liu, what kind of relationship with Hermes? Perhaps you read too much UK VOGUE. I highly recommend reading reviews or comments on re-sellers PRIOR to buying anything (or for Vestiaire selling through them). You can Google reviews/comments. For example, here is a site of reviews on Vestiarie which you are suggesting: https://www.sitejabber.com/reviews/www.vestiairecollective.com

        I did not see one positive review!

        As someone who worked haute couture and a long term luxury client, to be secure you should purchase directly from the brand boutique or a boutique within a larger speciality store like Bon Marche or Galeries Lafayette or even the brand shops at the airports in Europe.

        Good luck and shop smart!

  • Hi Mel, thanks for sharing the tips! I’ll be going to Paris in Sept hope I’ll score a bag! May I ask if the mobile u gave the store for the appointment was an Australian number or did u get a sim in Paris? If u had a European sim can u please share how & where u bought the sim? Thanks!!

  • Hi! I went to Hermes FSH in August and bought a Kelly bag! I’d never shopped in that store in my life. I arrived at a little after 4PM. It wasn’t busy. I went to the belt dept and started working with an SA. After I picked out a couple of belts and talked about my desire for a Kelly. He explained the process and that I’d have to have an account with the store and I’d have to come back in the morning for an appt. I told him I was leaving town the next day so that wouldn’t work. I also explained that I did business regularly with the Chicago store. Then he said he’d see what he could do. He asked me what my preferences were and then asked me to have a seat. After about 15 minutes he came out with a big orange box and a couple smaller ones. I finally got my Kelly bag! So, the point is, I’m not sure that it’s as complex to get one as the mystique!

    • Bravo! I am happy for you and glad that you persisted. I have no clue as to what the real “system” is other than the whim of sales person or manager on any given day in Paris or anywhere else one shops for Hermes.

  • Dear Mel,

    Thank you very much for the article.

    It has taken me around 3 months to buy a Birkin and not without a solid research.
    I am based in London and I have been living here for over 10 years. My work place is in Mayfair, 10mins walk from the Bond Street Hermes flagship and I also live in Belgravia, 10-15 mins away from Harrods and Sloane Street.
    I was already an existing client before I dared to ask for a B or a K bag. I already owned Herbag, Jige clutch and several scarves, bracelets and parfiums purchased at the Bond Street flagship. I have also bought an Evelyn from Selfridges and more scarves and bracelets from Harrods. Regardless of that I was often treated with disrespect and even lied to!

    I learned that it is usefull to build a relationship with a SA so I have tried to build one by purchasing some items (Jige, scarves and parfiums) from one of the SAs and getting her contact details. She was very kind and professional until I asked for help to purchase K or B for which she has told me that she cannot help but I have to check regularly early during the day and preferably on a week day. Which I did! I did for 2 months and I was always told that they have nothing available but to go in the beggining of next month and then when I did go they said to actually come at the end of the month.

    In the meantime, I have seen them showing bags to other people and I had the chance to chat up some people who arealy owned a Birkin or a Kelly while at the store and get some primary research from them.

    The sales assistants were rather unpleasant and uninformed about the Hermes products which absolutely shocked me! In an attempt to give an explanation to the fact that one SA has told me that there are no K or B bags available today while showing one to a client, he has suggested that this is due to a previous arrangement or ‘click and collect’ (yes he used ‘click and collect’) option on their website!!! At that point I was so revolted, I needed to leave the store asap and book tickets to Paris as I needed nothing to do any more with the London pseudo sales people!

    Previously, I was also suggested to buy their home ware and ready to wear products to be able to be considered a special enough client to ask for a Birkin or a Kelly. Sadly, although I really like their products at the moment this is not what I need and I could not understand why I have to buy something I dont need.

    So, I booked a mid week trip to Paris, followed your instructions and got a Birkin 25 etain in togo leather on my first attempt. I have asked the SA exactly for this one and he was kind enough to bring it and show interest in selling me one.

    Thanks a lot for all your help and suggestions!

    • Silviya, as you can see from my comments above, I am not fond of Bond Street either. I find the Hermes salespeople in both UK and France shockingly uninformed too. I am so glad you got your Birkin 25 in togo in etain colour. It is a great colour! I like it much more than etoupe. And I have now begun to only buy 25 or 30 cm handbags from Hermes–I think the 25 cm are adorable! And they do not give you the backache or shoulder ache of the 35! I hope you enjoy your birkin and many more!

  • Sorry Silviya for crashing your post lol some misunderstanding…..I liked Mel’s YouTube channel and congrats on your purchase! I think all in all its still worthy of the hassle for people outside Europe! :)

  • Mel and everyone, I have a question which I would like to ask each of you. To me it seems appropriate to ask all the readers of PurseBop and BOPtalk because we all share information about shopping in Paris for Hermes, Chanel and other luxury brands as well as challenges of supply and demand.

    So my major query to everyone on this blog is:

    If luxury shopping is such a chore/so much work/ so much aggravation, can we call it luxury anymore?

    • It’s for purchasing a Birkin or a Kelly if lucky enough to get one, anything else no at all, you just go in the store and ask for what you need.

  • Would like to ask if the cueing system of buying an Hermes bag in Munich and Prague is the same in FSH in Paris. I plan to visit Munich and Prague next month and hoping to be lucky to get a birkin/kelly/constance. :) Appreciate your tips!