How do I Know I'm Buying an Authentic Hermès Bag?
Hermès luxury handbags are the most highly coveted handbags worldwide, with the storied Hermès Birkin bag leading the way. Celebrities, royalty, heads of state, and the most fashionable women across the globe wear these exceptional handbags. With such extraordinary popularity and price tags ranging from $8,000 to over $500,000, is it any wonder that the Birkin bag is the most counterfeited bag in history? It’s essential to guard against purchasing fake Hermès bags, but how can you recognize a real one?
Some fake Birkin bags are very convincing, and it can be difficult to spot the tell-tale indications that it is counterfeit. This is made even more challenging because genuine experts in the field of authenticating Hermès bags are reluctant to fully describe all the ways they spot fakes for fear counterfeiters will up their game based on the information.
The best way to guarantee your Hermès bag is authentic is by purchasing it directly from Hermès (good luck with that) or from a reputable dealer, like Madison Avenue Couture. But if you’ve been gifted or purchased a bag elsewhere, you want to be sure you received what you paid for. Not only that but learning the fine details that prove yours is an authentic Hermès bag is yet another way to savor its unique beauty.
Hermès Authentication Services
The extraordinary popularity of Hermès bags has led to a proliferation of Hermès authentication services. Sadly, some of these services, too, are less than genuine. They often lack the expertise to recognize an authentic Hermès bag or spot the details that distinguish a real Birkin vs. a fake.
At Madison Avenue Couture, we employ the services of genuine Hermès experts who authenticate every bag we sell. The process entails art as well as science. Just as a gourmet recognizes genuine Tahitian vanilla from its bouquet, so, too, do our experts recognize the scent of the premium leathers used to construct an authentic Hermès bag.
If you have a beloved Kelly bag or Birkin, read on to discover some of the many small details experts use to verify Hermès authenticity. And learn why an Hermès authenticity card is key to proving the bag is a fake Hermès. (You may be surprised!)
How To Spot Fake Hermès Bag
To distinguish a fake Hermès from a genuine article, remember that each authentic Hermès bag is handmade by exceptional artisans. Many counterfeit bags are of such poor quality that they are easy to spot. But some are simply too “perfect” to be real.
Genuine leather has natural variations in color and texture, while manufactured “pleather” is entirely regular. Premium Hermès leathers Togo and Epsom both feature a great deal of texturing. We see many fake bags counterfeiting these leathers with entirely regular textures. And machine stitching that is precisely even, straight, and regular is another giveaway that the bag is a fake Hermès bag.
There are many features to consider when examining a bag to determine whether it’s an authentic Hermès bag:
The Embossed Logo
The first thing to check is the iconic Hermès logo, an embossed stamp located on the front of the bag under the flap, below the stitching.
It should read “Hermès Paris Made in France” on three lines, with the lettering growing progressively smaller on each line. Authentic Hermès bag logos consist of block letters that are equally spaced, as are the spaces between the lines. However, since the letters are embossed on the bag, the lettering may be affected by the texture of the leather or skin. As a result, there may be parts of the logo where the embossment is lighter or absent or has spread to the letter next to it or beneath it.
In contrast, most fake Hermès bags have printed or pressed-in lettering. The letters are often not consistent in font, size, or direction, and the spacing between the letters may be uneven. Also, the accent over the second E in HERMÈS may be too light or absent.
The Leather Or Skin
Authentic Hermès bags are handcrafted from the highest quality leathers and skins, each with its own natural variations. Then, too, the sources and tanning processes also vary so that genuine bags will have unique characteristics. For example, one authentic Togo leather Birkin may have many veins, while another may have none. A minor imperfection in an Hermes leather bag is not unusual and does not distinguish a fake Birkin vs. a real one.
Variations in authentic Hermès exotic bags are even more common. The scales on virtually every crocodile and alligator bag are different. In fact, people can often identify their bag by the unique pattern of the scales. Hermès collectors often select bags based on the number and pattern of the scales. Minor creasing or lines through scales are also common in authentic Hermès crocodile and alligator bags. Only a fake Hermès bag could have perfectly regular and even scales because the animals themselves have irregularities in their skin.
In comparison, counterfeit bags often are too “perfect.” For example, fake Birkin bags in Togo leather are typically highly textured with an unnatural consistency throughout. Crocodile bags are often not made of genuine skin but of embossed leather and have regular and consistent scales.
Every genuine Hermès bag is handmade and painstakingly hand-stitched. Due to the handcrafting, the stitching will not be perfectly symmetrical over the entire bag, giving authentic Hermès handbags a unique touch. Hermès stitches typically have a slight upward slant, and while stitches are singular, there may be some double stitches, notably on the clochette and back of the bag where the handles are attached. Hermès artisans finish the stitching inside the bag under the flap, so don’t be surprised if that area is less than perfect.
In comparison, fake Hermès bags are typically machine-stitched and have uniformly straight, small stitches. Even hand-stitched counterfeit Hermès bags lack the pattern typical of an authentic bag. Machine-perfect stitching is a clear indication of a fake Birkin vs. a real one.
The metal hardware on authentic Hermès bags is always plated or finished in a genuine precious metal, typically palladium or gold. On rare bags, you might find brushed gold, rose gold, or ruthenium finishes. The hardware on new bags is sealed in plastic. The plaques, or hardware on the sangles of Birkin and Kelly bags, are engraved with HERMÈS-PARIS. On gold plated bags, there is a small box after the PARIS with tiny writing inside that requires a loupe to read. This box is not present on palladium-plated bags. The font and spacing of this engraving may vary, but counterfeit bags cannot achieve the same lettering as authentic Hermès bags.
The rest of the hardware can also indicate if a bag is authentic or not. For example, on authentic Birkin and Kelly bags, the feet are secure and cannot rotate or come off. Similarly, the toggle and back plate should also be secure, and the toggle should turn smoothly.
Finally, the rivets that hold the hardware in place are squared at the top, which is almost impossible to replicate on fake Hermès bags.
The Inside Zipper
Hermès makes its own zippers that feature the HERMÈS name engraved with its lower half towards the end of the metal zipper pull. A matching metal letter “H” is at the end of the zipper.
Zipping a Hermès bag should feel like a luxurious experience; it should never catch or be difficult to open or close. A stuck, stiff, or rough zipper alone marks an Hermès Kelly bag as fake vs. real. Another characteristic of a genuine Hermès zipper is that the zipper pull does not hang down at a 90-degree angle from the zip line. It should remain parallel to the zipper at all times. The metal used on an authentic Hermès bag’s zipper would be more of a matte finish as opposed to a shiny metal.
The Lock & Keys
Authentic Birkin and Kelly Hermès bags include a lock and set of keys.
The lock is engraved with “HERMÈS” on the bottom, matching the other hardware on the bag. The number on the lock should match the number engraved on the accompanying keys. The keys should be attached with a leather string and fit neatly inside the leather clochette. On a fake Hermès bag, the lock and keys may not match the bag’s hardware and will feel lighter in weight than authentic Hermès lock and keys. Often, fake Birkins and Kelly bags have keys that do not entirely fit in the clochette.
Almost all recently produced Hermès Birkin and Kelly bags are lined in chevre or goatskin, a lightly textured and very durable leather with a touch of sheen. Fake Birkins and Kellys are lined in leather or faux leather and do not have the richness of chevre.
The Date & Craft Stamp
Authentic Hermès handbags have a Blind Stamp embedded into the leather that includes the year that the handbag was manufactured and the code for the artisan that produced the bag. The location of the Blind Stamp depends on the handbag style and year.
Toward the end of 2015, Hermès relocated the Blind Stamp on Birkin and Kelly bags from the back of the closure strap to the inside of the bag on the left gusset. Current Blind Stamps start with the Date Code (year of production), followed by a series of numbers and letters with typically two letters below.
Hermès’ current dust bag, since 2007, is a beige herringbone of high-quality, durable cotton. Vintage authentic Hermès bags have dust bags made of tan velour, while newer dust bags are made of orange cotton flannel.
The signature “Le Duc” logo on the front of the dust bag is encased in a double circle. On authentic bags, the logo is crisp, whereas it tends to be blurred on fake dust bags. The strings at the top of the dust bag should also be thick, durable, and secure.
Hermès Authenticity Cards
Similarly, fake Hermès bags are often sold with fake accompaniments, such as the rain hat, the tissue paper, the box, and authenticity cards. Unlike many other designers, Hermès bags DO NOT include an authenticity card. Hermès has never issued an authenticity card and most likely never will. So, we consider Hermès authenticity cards a key to distinguishing a real Birkin vs. a fake. Many fake Hermès bags come with an orange plastic authenticity card that says “Hermès” on them. If the bag comes with one of these cards, it is most definitely a fake.
Ultimately, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Hermès is a luxury brand, and unsurprisingly it has a luxury price tag. An authentic used Hermès leather bag in excellent condition will not cost below $10,000, with most new ones starting upward of twice that amount. Authentic new crocodile bags typically cost more than $50,000, with the premium bags like the Birkin Himalaya in the six figures.
Afraid Your Hermès Bag is Fake?
If reviewing these signs that can help identify whether an Hermès Birkin bag is real vs. fake has left you concerned that you have a counterfeit bag, don’t panic. Document your concerns with photos, then reach out to the place you purchased it from. Explain your concerns and ask for authentication support. If you are not satisfied with the company’s response, seek out an independent Hermès authentication service.
If you need assistance, please get in touch with Madison Avenue Couture. We can recommend a few vetted authenticators we respect.
Shop with Confidence with Madison Avenue Couture
At Madison Avenue Couture, every Hermès bag we offer is guaranteed authentic. Most are store-fresh and never worn, though we do offer a few vintage and pre-owned bags, each clearly marked and in at least Excellent condition. All the luxury handbags and accessories we offer are available for delivery in just 24 hours after purchase. Madison Avenue Couture is your one-stop shop for quality and style.