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Hermès taken to court by customers over 'unfair sales practices'

By Susan Zijp


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Hermès boutique in KaDeWe, Berlin Credits: Hermès

Hermès was taken to court by two customers in the US state of California, who accused the company of unfair sales practices. According to the suit, Hermès allegedly only offers its Birkin bag to an exclusive group of customers with "sufficient sales history". Only people who have previously bought from the brand are allowed to buy the Birkin bag.

The Birkin bag, named after actress and singer Jane Birkin, has "incredible demand and low supply", however the claims suggest Hermès is playing with this. Retailers, according to the lawsuit, are instructed to sell Birkin bags only to customers with "sufficient sales history", violating US competition laws.

"Most consumers will never get to see a Birkin handbag in a Hermès shop. Only consumers deemed worthy of buying a Birkin handbag will be shown a Birkin handbag (in a private room)," the lawsuit stated.

The two customers suing Hermès demand that the brand stop this exclusionary sales system, and are seeking undisclosed damages.

The Birkin bag was launched in 1984 and both handmade and produced in small quantities. Prices range from thousands of pounds for a small model to hundreds of thousands of pounds for a larger model.