Hermès is deep in the business of "creating desire," as the brand's CEO puts it, and the Birkin bag is the company's most precious possession. Seeing the need to pull back the curtain a bit, Purseblog recently opened the floor for its community to share their own tales of trying to snag one of the elusive, über-expensive bags. Here are some of the best tips we picked up from the 100+ responses:
1. Build up a reputation by paying for many other things over a long period of time before asking about a Birkin.
"The first time, I hadn't built up as much of a relationship with H as I have now. I went in, bought a scarf and a bracelet, and at the checkout, I decided to ask if it was possible to see a Birkin (oh how naive I was). They told me that they didn't have any in stock and I would have to be put on the waiting list. So, I put my name on there and informed them that I wanted a 40 cm in black Togo with palladium hardware. And then I waited. And waited. And waited. Every once in a while, I would stop in and maybe buy something small, like a perfume or an agenda refill, just so I could check in and see if they had any in stock. I think it took around 18 months (and thousands of dollars later) before they finally said "we have a Birkin in the back." They informed me that it was black chèvre with gold hardware, and it was the 35. I asked to look at it, and I decided to get it. I'm not one who matches the hardware of their bags to their jewelry, so I decided to just get that one. And I liked it a lot. I used it regularly until it was floppy and distressed."
2. If you don't have a personal connection to a sales associate, try to work around the brand.
"I bought three for my mom using the American Express Platinum Concierge. I called and told them what I wanted and they put me on hold, called a few stores and within an hour each time I was in the store picking up the bag. I've been an AmEx holder and concierge user for a while so that helped. Either way, it's a game to play to get the bags."
3. Or, just woo an unknown sales associate.
"One day I came to Hermes rue du faubourg in Paris to see what new colors they have for hapi bracelet. I picked up a bambou (bright green) bracelet and a cashmere scarf (actually it's for my mom). I didn't expect to get a bag that day. The SA who was with me was so nice, it was the first time I met him, we talked a lot about the new season colors and how I love them. Before we go to the till, I told him it will be lovely to have a matching bag with my bracelet. He told me to wait and see if he got something. He checked his computer and disappeared. A few minutes later he came back with an orange box (super excited the moment I saw it!!) and asked me to go upstairs. It was quiet there. He opened the box and there it was, birkin 35 in bambou with paladium hardware. I forgot if it's togo or epsom. The bracelet I bought was in gold hardware though. I tried it on and although it's a bit big for me i decided to get it (and cracked my credit card)."
4. Look "deserving" of the bag.
"I bought my Birkins from a fabulous SA. She did tell me when I initially asked how to purchase one that you need to be "deserving". If I wasnt so interested in getting one I would have been turned off. I was also able to customize a Birkin which was a cool experience."
5. Or just go to Las Vegas, where it's impossible to judge how much money people have based on their looks.
"I wanted to mention a little "trick" i learned in Las Vegas from an SA at Valentino last week. He said they all treat customers better in LV because they literally can't tell who has money or not and quite a few of the people who shop at those stores have never been to one before. He said if they were as snooty as other locations they would literally lose business. After visiting a few shops, including Hermes, I think he was telling me the truth as I found all the SA's at all the stores to come right up and ask me if I needed help. And I was carrying a very non-designer bag! Long story short, if you want to buy a Birkin, try one of the (3, I think) LV stores."
6. It helps to have a husband.
"The bag came in two weeks before my niece's wedding and we had already invested a great deal in the wedding. When we (my husband and I) finally saw 'her' I asked for a day to think and was told politely, if you don't get the bag now then you'll wait another 2 yrs to qualify. I said before we spend $11k ( the money finally hit me) I said , I need 24 hours. So 24 hrs and a sleepless night later we went to the store. It was then I decided no I couldn't do it and when I turned to find my SA to give her my final decision, I was handed the bag. My husband decided the bag was timeless, made by hand, could be resold and knew it would make ME happy."
7. The bags that reeked of weed can work out in your favor.
"I was completely surprised when my SA offered me the chance to place a special order for a bag and I couldn't pass up the opportunity. I was able to choose everything on my Birkin - size, exterior and interior leather color, hardware color and stitching - I waited about 9 months and finally got to enjoy my gorgeous Hermes bag. I was offered another [special order] and this time chose the Kelly. Unfortunately after another long wait, I was one of the unlucky ones who received a defective, stinky bag. My boutique handled the problem quickly and in the end I was allowed to place another [special order] and received a perfect Kelly a year later."
8. Just go in a store and ask.
"I really do not understand why it is so hard to get a Birkin. It just seems like a turnoff to me. I guess my mom was one of the lucky ones since she got her first Birkin the first time she asked. AND SHE WAS WEARING OLD NAVY FLIP FLOPS AND TIGHTS ON THAT DAY. She bought 2 scarves, and a Kelly wallet. After paying for those she asked for a Birkin and my mom walked home with a BIG orange bag in her hands."