Settling for a Birkin, Kelly or Constance?

by @soireeauwonderland author of “She Claims to be a ‘Big Bag’ Kind of Girl

Turning down one of the most sought-after bags is a pretty daunting experience. We know these bags are not easy to come by. If anything, the sales assistants (SA) I spoke to a month ago in Paris told me they saw people lining up at 5 am in the morning! Each time I go to my store, I hear the word no uttered more times than I can count. However, do we really want to settle when it comes to Hermès? The leather, color and hardware choices give the bag a unique look and each one of us has a preference. Should you stick with any bag you are offered or make a trade off for one of these preferences, or should you wait for exactly what you want?

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Last month, I decided to work my magic on the SAs in the Paris shops and ended up in a 2-hour discussion specifically concerning this topic of “settling”. What I learned in Paris and from my own SM is that it’s totally normal to turn down a bag; if anything, you should be picky about your bag. If you know you want a specific one, then chances are you will have a certain combination of leather, size and hardware in mind.

It’s worth mentioning that I was certain I would just own one Hermès bag, which is not the case for me anymore. My first Hermès bag had to be the B35 in black with GHW in either togo, epsom, or clemence leather. I was told it’s advisable to be flexible in some aspects—whether they be size, leather or hardware—which will give you and the SA more chances to find the right bag. Also, trust your SAs and don’t dismiss their recommendations. Don’t be shy or feel you will have fewer chances to score a bag if you try the sample sizes; they are there for you to make a wise decision. A couple of SAs told me a good number of hesitant buyers, upon trying the sample sizes, realized their initially preferred size was not the one they would ultimately buy. Moral of the story: be discerning, but open to different options.

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Paris Sèvres shop where I spoke to the SAs

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Paris Sèvres

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My First Birkin

I turned down the second bag I was offered. I was still not a regular in my European store, and I felt guilty and fearful that I would never get another bag or I would be blacklisted. I don’t know what else was going through my mind, but I know I didn’t like the constant feeling of butterflies in my stomach as I waited for the SA to call again. Thankfully, my experienced friends from the US and Europe helped me get over my initial fears and told me it’s ok to say no to a B or K. As I got to know the Hermès world better, I became a rather difficult buyer, and became very experienced in turning down bags. If you are wondering how many I’ve seen but haven’t taken home bags, I dare say a lady doesn’t kiss and tell, so the number of bags shall remain a secret. My sales manager (SM) always tells me I make her sweat each time she tries to find a bag for me. Last time I was trying on my swimming suit, and my SM and I had one of our usual conversations about the city and life, she told me she hoped I will love my Special Order (SO). Let it be known, I also turned down two SOs the store did themselves. But not to worry, the SO order I placed not so long ago, I already love and hope it’s being made somewhere. My inner child is imagining a Cinderella like picture, where mice and birds are stitching my Kelly while singing happy songs.

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My SO process – I already know I will love her!

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More Shopping Escapades

When it comes to Hermès usually the customers are turned down when we ask for the bag. During my newbie days, I tried to figure out which SAs would be in a good mood, or I would try to read the shapes of their mouths, wondering if they were offering a bag to their customers. Most of the time, I saw disappointed faces, smiles that looked more like frowns, and here I’m writing about turning down these bags. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had my fair share of disappointments before I was able to feel satisfied with my collection, but it’s ironic that I’ve been the one in the position of saying “no”.

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Snapshot of shopping at the Hermès Store

I know how painfully difficult it can be not to grab the bag as soon as the SA opens the box. I mean, I’m not a sprinter, but I bet I can be real fast if orange boxes are involved. I also have paid the price of buying a bag that I didn’t truly love. I thought that since the size was popular and people liked it on me, then I must like it as well. Au contraire, I learned that you will be the one carrying the bag, which is not something you should take lightly. Buying a Hermès bag, and then trying to figure out if you love her or how you can incorporate her into your lifestyle or wardrobe can become rather a nuisance. Most will argue for selling the bag, but it can be difficult to sell it if you don’t have a good idea of the resale value or how that side of the business works, and most resell companies will take a hefty percentage. Plus, when selling, you need to ensure you don’t get scammed yourself. In other words, it’s not as easy as snapping your fingers. Luckily for me, I did lots of research, took my time and found a new mom who appreciated and loved the bag much more than I ever did.

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A picture from the day I bought the bag I didn’t truly love. Luckily, she has a new home now!

Along the way and thanks to my friends and some very nice SAs, there are some key things I’ve learned. It’s good to go and see the bag in person even if you already know you may not like it. That way the SA knows you also went to see him or her, and you made the effort to at least be open, as the SA made the effort to secure the bag for you. You don’t have to buy another item the same day just because you feel bad for not taking the bag. You can be honest with your SA and sincerely explain how this bag will not suit your lifestyle or wardrobe, and give your reasoning so it feels more concrete and real. Make sure to remind your SA what color(s), leather type and/or hardware you think will best suit your needs, and you can ask for recommendations – that way it feels like a two-sided decision. I ask my SM  for guidance, even to the point that she doesn’t take notes anymore because she has memorized what I love and don’t love. It is worth noting SAs can be pretty busy, and the bag you won’t be taking will go to someone else who will love it so much more than you, hence you don’t want to be touching it excessively and taking a thousand photos only to say no in the end. Yes, I’ve seen it happen!

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Good things come to those who wait. Couldn’t ask for anything more with this Constance!

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More Hermès Gems

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A Welcome Addition to the Family

For me, buying an Hermès bag should be associated with positive thoughts and an amazing experience, so don’t settle for just any that comes your way. So, did you settle for one of these bags like the Birkin, Kelly, or Constance? Let’s have a healthy discussion, ladies and gents on the BopTalk threads.

With Love,
@soireeauwonderland

Read related articles below:
She Claims to Be a “Big Bag” Kind of Girl
Should a Bag be an Investment?
Birkin Bait: The Stuff We Buy to Hook a Birkin
The Lucky Hermes Constance
Hermes 101: The Constance Bag
Hermes Birkin vs. Kelly 101