The iconic Hermès bags are much coveted - and often copied. Some counterfeits are even advertised as "the top-notch counterfeits", using real exotic skins. Find out how to tell an authentic bag from a convincing fake.
Hermès bags are iconic and highly sought after by many fashionistas for their utility, elegance and timelessness, not to mention their exclusive status. Naturally, these features make them one of the most counterfeited bags on the planet.
The most desired models are often found to have the most convincing fakes. Discerning a fake from a genuine bag and buying from reputable resellers are absolutely necessary to avoid heartache. While it requires a very keen eye and reputable experience, fakes will always be fake and there traces to tell them apart.
Here are the 7 steps to ensure you're buying an authentic Hermès bag.
Your Hermès bag will never be wrapped in plastic, as this would damage the leather. Instead, it comes in a canvas dust bag, featuring the Hermès logo in either one or two rings, depending on when it was made. Dust bags are also made in very distinctive colors. While vintage dust bags are in tan velour, newer ones are orange cotton flannel and post-2007 bags are a beige and light brown Herringbone Toile.
A rain cover and a felt protector accompany the dust bag as well, which is soft to the touch.
Most new Hermès items come in the famous orange box, with few exceptions for special editions, such as the So Black Series, which comes in full black packaging. If you buy a bag from a reseller, there may be a chance you won't get a box with your handbag.
After unpacking your bag, you will notice the high quality leather that Hermès goods are made of. The leathers and exotic skins that Hermès uses come from all over the world and expert artisans and designers make certain the hides are only top quality.
The leather is dyed, so the color should never look painted on, as could be the case in low-level fakes. Keep in mind not every bag is made in every color and not every color is used for every leather. For instance, Ostrich leather has not been made in the Hermès color Braise. Furthermore, some color and leather combinations are only available during certain years. Certain models are only available in a number of leathers. If you find a Kelly Pochette in Togo leather, for example, it is definitely a fake. Hermès is proud of the unique colors they create. Every handbag is dyed with only the most pristine and precise of Hermès’ signature colors. You can often find subtle, key differences in shading and brightness of fake handbag dyes.
Furthermore, the inside of an Hermès bag is often lined with Chèvre goat skin, which looks and feels more exquisite and soft to the eye.
3 Shape, Common Features and Base
Look at the shape, base and some common features of the handbag.
The common sizes for a Birkin bags are 25, 30, 35 and 40, with 45 and 50 being travel Birkin bags. A Birkin 45 is really rare though, even more so than a Birkin 50. Kelly bag comes in the sizes of 25, 28, 32, 35 and 40, but was also made in a size 50, in addition to the Mini Kelly 20 and Micro Kelly 15. These sizes denote the precise length of the base of the bag in centimeters.
In counterfeits, the bag’s measurement can be slightly inaccurate. If you look at your Hermès bag, the shape and proportions should be exactly correct. For example do the handles on your Birkin 25 seem bigger than on other Birkin 25 bags? Then it is likely a fake.
Hermès bags usually feature two interior pockets, a zipped pocket for valuables and an open pocket. In cases of special order bags, there might be an extra pocket.
The contour line can be another artefact that identifies a fake. This line is where the leather was cut and in Hermès bags it is neatly done. An authentic bag has a slightly indented contour above the seam.
The stitching on your Hermès bag is always handmade by one artisan. Using saddle stitching, the artisan creates the signature stitching pattern Hermès is known for. Stitching across the handbag should be angled and not appear straight. The thread generally matches the color of the leather, except for special orders and limited editions.
The stitching on the base of the handle is done in a double stitch. As the bags are handmade there may be some inconsistencies in how many stitches there are. For example, there could be more stitches on one side of the handle than on the other, however, while this is uncommon, the stitching will never be messy or show loose threads.
5 Brand Stamp
Your Hermès bag should have a brand stamp and a blind stamp. The former is the Hermès logo located in the front center of the exterior and the latter hides inside the bag which indicates the year of manufacture.
The logo stamp is always embossed onto the material just below the stitching and achieved with heat stamping. The stamp will be either in silver or gold, matching the hardware color. For Hermès signature Barenia leather, the stamp will be a colorless imprint. If the hardware on your bag in rose gold, however, then the imprint will be in gold.
If you possess an Hermès bag made of an exotic skin, you should find a mark next to the ‘Hermès Paris’, ‘Made in France’ logo. A square ‘□’ stands for Mississippiensis Alligator. Niloticus Crocodile's symbol is a double dot '・・' and is found on Himalaya bags. A caret '^' means the bag is made from Porosus Crocodile leather and is the rarest of the crocodile skins.
The most common Lizard skin, that of the Niloticus Lizard, is indicated by a dash '-', while the Ombré color Lizard skin, from the Natural “Salvator” Lizard, is symbolized by an equal sign ‘=’. If you have a special order Hermès bag, you will find a Horseshoe Stamp ‘∩’ next to the Hermès, ‘Made in Paris’ imprint. There are some unusual imprints, such as a shooting star for a bag made for an artisan's family or friend or an S followed by a number for employee sales bags.
The blind stamp consists of a letter from A to Z, indicating the year of manufacture, the artisan ID, and may have a shape associated with it. If the bag was crafted between 1971 and 1996, there will be a circle around the letter. If your bag was crafted between 1997 and 2019, the letter is encased in a square. Before 1971, there was only a letter and no shape encasing it. In recent years the coding was changed to a more complicated one to better combat counterfeiting. For some vintage models, the blind stamp might be undefined.
The hardware, such as zipper, turnlock, lock, keys, and hardware plate on Hermès bags all feature unique details.
The hardware plate has mostly either a palladium or gold polished finish, although rare bags can feature rose gold, champagne gold, brushed gold, brushed silver, ruthenium, diamond engravement, or black finishes. The plate should not tarnish, but in rare cases it may occur. 'HERMÈS PARIS' is engraved under the rectangle opening of the plate, which had different engraving styles over the years, but is always centered, neat and evenly spaced. In recent years a thinner font is used on the plate. If the plate is gold, there will be a hallmark to the left of the stamp.
Hermès zippers are distinct in their appearance and working. Newer zippers are marked with block letters, that say 'HERMÈS' and many feature the letter H at the zipper base, with the base of the word in the direction of the zipper itself. Authentic zippers run smoothly and the zipper pull always remains parallel to the zipper line. Hermès zippers also have a more matte finish.
The lock has 'Hermès' engraved on the bottom of the crisp in a clean font. The number on the lock corresponds to the number engraved on the accompanying keys. If your bag is in an exotic skin, the body of the lock will be covered in the same exotic leather, which hides any marks.
The clochette that houses the key is always made of one piece of leather, which is folded on the top and stitched on the sides. The keys will fit neatly in the clochette.
7 Authenticity Card
Unlike Chanel, Gucci and Prada, Hermès bags never come with authenticity cards issued by the brand to prove its authenticity. The only papers that come with Hermès bags are care cards and CITES for exotic skin bags, which you will need to export your bag into other countries. Hermès does not offer authentication services and if you send them your handbag to be repaired, they will confiscate handbags determined to be counterfeit.
When you decide to buy an Hermès bag, it is important to remember that all bags are crafted by skilled artisans. Should the bag show any sign of error or defect the bag would never be sold to a customer. For that reason, never accept a handbag that you are not fully happy with or confident in its authenticity.
Always remember, if you find a deal that seems to be too good to be true, especially when it comes to the price, it normally is. Subsequently, in the secondary marketplace for Hermès bags, it is highly recommended that you buy from a reseller with a good reputation, especially one with a boutique or showroom.
This list exemplifies the care and craft that goes into an Hermès handbag and how you can tell the real deal from counterfeit. Nothing should make you happier than knowing you are getting a genuine handbag crafted by the most celebrated brand in the industry.