Bringing Home the Birkin: The Man Behind the Coolest Job Ever

We caught up with the author of Bringing Home the Birkin, Michael Tonello, for some tips on how to score an authentic Birkin, how to prove it’s authentic, and his favorite Hermès store in the world.

What’s the craziest thing you had to do in order to deliver a Birkin to a client?
I once sold a Birkin to a client, but the sale was predicated upon me being able to “deliver it by tomorrow at 11AM” in Nice, France. She was about to board a private yacht for a three-week cruise. I was in Barcelona at the time, so I rented a nice car and drove like the wind.

You’ve traveled to 111 Hermès stores! Which one is your favorite?
The store in Ginza, Tokyo. The building itself is amazing, but the icing on the cake is that they also have an Hermès vintage museum!

Say you’ve found a pre-loved Hermès bag. What are three tricks to determine it’s real?
The single most important factor is the stitching. The bag should be saddle stitch with linen thread that has been coated with beeswax. Fakes are typically made with polyester thread and entirely machine stitched. The Hermès logo and font are also tough to replicate exactly. Finally, the interior stitching and craftsmanship of the bag should be as nice and clean as the exterior.

Tell us a little about finding bags online. Are there any tips for scoring a great find?
It’s becoming more and more difficult to find a really great deal, since Hermès is becoming increasingly sought after and there is more global wealth than ever before. Working with a reputable seller (such as Rue La La) or private sellers (the way art collectors work with art dealers) is a good idea for several reasons. One is that it assures you a certain level of confidence in the fact that you won’t be getting a counterfeit, and it affords you the possibility of a far larger selection to choose from.

Do you have your own favorite Hermès piece?
Yes, two actually. I purchased a pair of Hermès cotton khaki trousers in the Naples, Italy store and they immediately became my favorite wardrobe piece. They’re as thin as a piece of tissue. A couple months later I had the flagship store in Paris locate a second pair of the exact same trousers for me.

Want to score your own Birkin? Our Vintage & Luxuries: Chanel, Hermès, & Louis Vuitton Boutique launches today, July 15, at 11AM ET.

Read all about Michael Tonello’s experience selling fashion’s coveted It-bag in his riveting memoir, Bringing Home the Birkin, published by Harper Collins in 2009.

 

- By Melissa Mann, Staff Writer

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July 15, 2012