No handbag has been counterfeited more times than the Hermès Birkin bag.
On the market, they can be difficult for a novice to recognize. Hermès’ branding and craftsmanship evolve over the years, making it hard to keep tabs on the growing database of house identifiers. And with every Hermès bag hand-produced, each one is suspect to its own little idiosyncrasies.
There’s a theory that many counterfeiters will always intentionally leave a discrepancy, in order to maintain the value of the originals. Whether that’s true or not, there are many subtle codes that betray a poser, even despite its efforts to fit in.
Below, we share the knowledge on Hermès Birkin bag authentication. Visual aids supplied by an authentic Hermès Birkin 35 bag in Brighton Blue alligator skin, currently listing here at Rewind Vintage.
These two rules apply across all areas below.
The highest quality materials are always used. The dust bag will have a high thread count, finished with a 100% cotton drawstring. The hardware will have a slight weight to it, by nature of its precious-metal plating. The leather of the bag will look, feel, smell luxuriant.
No slack construction bypasses Hermès’ scrutiny. Every aspect of the Birkin handbag will be flawless, neat, symmetrical and smooth. This counts for the body’s silhouette, the handles' shape, the placement of the purse feet, the cut-out of the sangles (the belt-like arms of the bag), all hand-stitching, embossing and stamping.
- The authentic Hermès Birkin bag can stand upright on its own.
- The handles shouldn't collapse.
- The clochette will feel substantial, and be crafted from one piece of leather, not two. Its shape will remain quite flat, even with keys placed inside.
- The colour of the leather will correspond to an Hermès colour chart. Hermès have a finite number of shades produced in their tanneries, and a variation from these indicates a fake.
- On inspection of fakes in person, the colour can sometimes feel like a layer sitting atop the leather, like paint. An authentic will have the dye fully imbued into its leather.
- Hermès Birkin handbags are typically lined with Chevre goatskin, which is a grained leather.
- The lining is typically dyed in a tonal colour to co-ordinate with the shade of the outer leather.
- The colour will always derive from an Hermès colour chart.
- Stitching will never be crooked or misaligned, yet be mindful that too-perfect stitching can betray machine work as opposed to hand craftsmanship (fake alert).
- Authentic Birkins have a very slight contour indented above the seaming of the top edge of the bag.
- Stitching on the dust bag should have narrow margins.
- The “Hermès Paris Made in France” logo stamp can be found centered at the top edge of the bag, very close to the stitching.
- Counterfeiters sometimes place the stamp too low.
- They can also miss the grave accent on the second “e” of “Hermès”, or misuse an acute, circumflex or macron accent in its place.
- The Hermès heat stamp is always in a natural, gold or silver colour to correspond to its hardware.
- It is not embossed into the leather. Its textural effect is closer to printing.
- The text is perfectly centered, evenly spaced and lined.
- Each letter is fully formed, not speckled, even on a heavily grained leather.
- Exotic leathers will have one of these additional markings: **, ^, -, = or □ near the logo that corresponds to its specific skin.
- The date of production is indicated by the blind stamp, which features a letter of the alphabet to represent a year. Letters without a shape correspond to the years 1945-70. Letters encased in a circle are circa 1971-96. A square represents 1997 onward. Note that 2015 is stamped with the letter T without an enclosing square, and 2016 editions have an X without a square.
- A code formed of numbers and/or letters is pressed near the blind stamp to indicate its atelier.
- The blind stamp is intended to be a very subtle marking. Many counterfeiters emboss too hard, creating a heavy stamp.
- Note that some Hermès Birkin bags don’t have a blind stamp. Hermès readily accept Birkin bags for servicing without blind stamps.
- Hermès Birkin hardware is typically plated with gold or palladium (from the platinum family).
- Neither of these precious metals tarnishes.
- Exotic leather Hermès Birkin bags will have a padlock body covered in a matching leather.
- All padlocks are engraved with the Hermès-Paris logo. The logo typeface is thin, neat and not too widely spaced.
- Gold-plated padlocks will feature a hallmark next to the logo. No other metal will have this hallmark.
- Padlocks are also engraved at the bottom with a number that co-ordinates with its keys. Many counterfeits feature the numbers 121, 212 and 102.
- The toggle will have a seamless turning movement; any resistance or grainy feeling is a potential indicator of a fake.
- Hermès zips designs have changed through the years but always have embossed logos. The zips remain parallel to the zipper at all times, not angling or hanging down.
- Hermès dust bags have changed over the years. A tan velveteen bag is usually ascribed to Birkin bags pre-dating the 1980s. Hermès then used an orange cotton flannel bag until 2007. Post-2007 saw the introduction of a beige Herringbone Tuille fabric that Hermès also use for saddle felt.
- Dust bags are stamped with a large Hermès Duc carriage insignia in brown. Older editions of the dust bag have two rings framing the logo instead of one.
- The current bag’s drawstring is brown and 100% cotton.
- Fakes often carry a gray dust bag with a burgundy motif and a poly-blend drawstring.
- Hermès don't issue authenticity cards. Any Hermès product sold with one is categorically fake.
- Hermès package Birkins in their iconic orange gift boxes, finished with a border and central logo.
- Hermès don't package Birkin bags with swing tags or cover the leather in protective plastic (note that the hardware, however, is typically protected with an adhesive plastic).
- Receipts are easy to manufacture and are no guarantee of authenticity.
It's said that 90% of all Birkins sold on the second-hand market are fakes. For this reason, it's advisable to purchase a Birkin from an establishment that guarantees the authenticity of every item. This is the policy of Rewind Vintage Affairs – complete security and assurance of authenticity. Shop our selection of Hermès Birkin bags here.