Hermes is a fashion house steeped in history and tradition. Established in 1837, it has been family-owned for five generations, the label is a symbol of class worldwide. From beginnings in saddlery and fine equestrian leather goods, Hermes today are best known for their handbags as well as a range of other superior items. They have certainly come a long way in the last two centuries.
If you’re on the hunt for a coveted Birkin, Kelly or Constance for your closet, it’s imperative you know what to be on the lookout for, or better yet, you should just buy from a trusted reseller (like YOLO!) who has your back. If you’re still considering making the transaction on your own, there are a few telltale signs that could tell you if your bag is a fake or the real deal. Here’s a brief overview to help you get started.
The first thing you should take note of is the shape of the bag. Hermès bags are known for their clean lines, and impeccable silhouettes. The Kelly bag comes in two different versions, the Retourne and the Sellier.
SELLIER means “saddler”, and this was the first Kelly bag design. The Sellier is more structured, has sharp edges and visible stitching on the outside of the bag. Since it’s more rigid in design, it holds fewer items than the Retourne and is rendered in sturdier leathers, like the Epsom or Box.
To create the RETOURNE (which started out as the Sellier) the artisan flips the bag inside out so you will see piping instead of the stitching. The suppleness of the Retourne gives the bag a more casual vibe and therefore it’s crafted from softer leathers like the Chevre, Togo or Clemence.
As for the Birkin, it’s similar in structure and design, and due to its metal feet, it can sit upright. The handles should be rigid and stay upright on their own, and the distance between the top and bottom of the handle should be 5 inches.
Hermès bags are crafted out of the finest and most luxurious leathers and exotic skins. From alligator, water buffalo, and ostrich, to Epsom, Togo, and Swift leathers, all the unique and exquisite leathers used by Hermès have a distinct and instantly recognizable smell, and the scent lingers no matter the age of the bag. If the scent is chemically, it’s probably a fake.
In addition to the scent, touch and examine the materials, and remember their professional leather artisans spend at least two years with their leatherworks before they’re allowed to make a bag. Real leather should be soft and supple, and the look luxurious. To learn more about the leathers, read our Ultimate Hermes Leather Guide.
Hermès uses saddle stitching which is representative of their history creating handmade equestrian leather goods. Their items are hand-stitched using two separate needles and saddle stitching creates two rows of stitches in a single row of holes, but since they’re hand-stitched, they might not be perfect. In fact, if the stitches are perfectly aligned, this is a sign it could be a fake. If you take a peek inside the bag, you’ll find the stitches are slightly angled from each other.
The hardware is another dead giveaway. Birkins and Kelly only use gold and palladium hardware. The hardware should be laser-etched to say “HERMES PARIS” and there should be a hallmark after “PARIS” on the gold hardware.
Zippers are another place to check for authenticity, and the back zippered pocket should give you lots of clues. The starting point of the zipper should have a metal H which is in line with the slider; however, some of the older bags do not have the H and feature a square block. Of course, when you open and close the zipper it should be a smooth experience. The zippers are matte in appearance and should not be shiny, which would indicate a fake.
THE BRAND STAMP
The Hermes logo is heat-pressed on authentic bags and while counterfeiters can also heat-press the logo, the logo is pressed too deep which indents the leather. If you touch and run your fingers across the logo, you shouldn’t feel it indented into the bag. Also, the font should be visually impeccable which means it’s centered and evenly spaced.
BLIND STAMP AUTHENTICATION
The Blind Stamp is a tiny and hard-to-see stamp that can help you with the authentication process. These stamps usually contain a mixture of numbers and letters, and although it’s similar to a serial number, it’s not the serial number.
It’s an easy way to help you identify the date the bag was made and who made it—and it’s one of the biggest giveaways of an authentic Hermès bag. First, you’ve got the Date Stamp which is a record of the year the bag was manufactured, and it features an alphabetical character and a shape (such as a square, circle, or triangle). The Craftsman Stamp—which consists of shapes, symbols, letters, and numbers—identifies who created the bag and sometimes if the bag is sent back for repairs, Hermès might send the bag back to the person who originally worked on it.
LOCATE & CONFIRM THE DATE STAMP
As you might’ve guessed, the stamp is located in various places on the bag. Hermès typically hides it inside a pocket, behind a strap or in the fold of one of the interior leather walls.
UNDERSTANDING THE DATE STAMP
The date stamps have been grouped by era. The first one is from 1922 until 1944 and these bags do not have stamps at all.
The next group is from 1945 to 1970. This is when the Blind Stamp was introduced as a single letter, and this continued until you reached the end of the alphabet.
Next, is 1971 to 1996. This is when they began incorporating a letter with a circle surrounding it.
In the fourth era, which took place between 1997 and 2014, they replaced the enclosed circle with a square.
And finally, bags created starting in 2015 to the present day feature a stamp in this format: L LL NNN LL with the first letter representing the date, and the remaining letters and numbers representing the craftsman stamp. These letters do not come with a shape.
Content and images for this blog post have been referenced from LePrix.