It was in the early years of 2000 when I decided to begin reselling some of my old designer bags which I no longer carried. I did this because unlike the select few who can afford to keep all the bags they buy, I can’t afford to buy new designer bags unless I sell my old ones to fund the purchase for new bags. I thought that reselling them would be the right thing to do– economical, and someone else can benefit from the beautiful no-longer-used bags. At the time, I had an email list of friends and I would send them details of the bags I wanted to sell. And some of my friends enlisted me to resell their own bags. Within those few weeks, I was selling my bags alongside the designer bags of my friends.

My magazine editor friends picked up on my “selling” idea and decided to feature what I was doing. Before I knew it, people were calling me up and asking me to sell their bags. It was there that the novelty of a designer bag consignment-for- resale online business was born, Tresormakati. Years later, it became difficult for me to bring around the bags to show to clients *I got prego with kid #2* so I decided to put up shop in Makati. It was also during this time that I began to blog.

Fast forward to 2010 when designer resale consignment stores– online and brick and mortar shops became commonplace and practically everywhere (everyone became a reseller and set up an online shop on Multiply or on some other online platform), I decided that it was also time to choose between my blog and that business. It was not easy to maintain the store, and like every other reseller, you will know that it’s not easy dealing with competition– while you keep your cool about other resellers and try your best not to say anything untoward about your competition, your competition can get rather unscrupulous and say untoward things about you– attack you by slashing their prices to compete head on with your prices, and if they are desperate enough, take the immoral route and attack your character. It can be a serious bloodbath– this does not only happen in the designer bag resale business but in all businesses from different industries. In the end for me, the blog won out, also because I had worked hard to cultivate beautiful relationships with brands and do not want to jeopardize them by encouraging black and parallel markets.

Hermes is one of those brands that I truly love from the very beginning. I still remember to this day how I fell in love with the brand while on a shopping jaunt with my Japanese classmates from college (they were the ones with spending power while I just accompanied them and drooled as they bought their H kelly watches). The old shop was along Stockton Street in Union Square, San Francisco. I could not even pronounce the brand at the time (I pronounced it “Her- Mess”). It was in the late 90s when I first laid eyes on both the Kelly and the Birkin. The birkin at the time commanded a price of about US$3,500+, the Kelly a bit lower. And my classmate’s sales associate, also a Japanese lady, was kind enough to explain to me why the bags were so expensive. It was on display in their store shelves. I had asked to see these bags on our numerous trips to the shop and vowed one day that I’ll buy myself one if I already had a job. I paid attention to every detail of the bag, not knowing one day I’ll be “using” that knowledge for something else.

And so when I finally got my own salary, I saved up. To buy a Kelly, not a Birkin. The Kelly was actually my 1st love. My first Hermes bag was an orange Kelly. When one of the ladies I occasionally had lunch with here in Manila saw the bag, she said it was hideous and overpriced, and looked like a briefcase. *Note: that same lady who made that comment now has a lot of Kellys and birkins. Lol* A reseller I once knew who at the time was selling more Balenciaga bags and Louis Vuitton bags also questioned me about the Hermes birkin and kelly. This reseller knew little about the brand at that time. In fact, not a lot of people could justify paying a high price for a bag at that time.

Who knew that the Hermes birkin would cause such a phenomenon, to the point that people would even borrow money from other people just so they could secure this highly coveted bag? Who knew that this bag would become the hottest item on the black market, being resold for way over 100% of its original cost if bought in-store? Who knew that this bag would drive certain people to lie and cheat other unsuspecting consumers (who were dying to get this bag) into buying fakes? I certainly did not expect it. I honestly did not think that a bag would become the defining factor of one’s social status. Let me be blunt here: while there will be people who buy the birkin because they love the style and craftsmanship, but there are people who buy the bag because of the status it denotes.

And as a result of this insane demand for the bag, the fakes began trickling in. First there were really bad fakes. And then they got better– and more expensive. And then they got really, really good. But even then I was still able to tell the difference. And then just last October after I had returned from attending fashion weeks in Milan and Paris, I was so alarmed with the 3 birkins I was shown. To the point that even I was left scratching my head in wonder at the authenticity of the bags. They were nearly perfect, save for a little smudge on the underside of the key clochette on one of the bags. I could not tell the authenticity of these bags and I refused to issue any authentication letters for them. I was suddenly afraid of the quality of these fakes. In late October I was yet again shown 7 Hermes birkins, all of which were of the same impeccable quality as the 3 birkins I had first seen (which I refused to authenticate on paper). After very heavily scrutinizing the 7 birkins, I was able to pinpoint the flaws one by one. And I tell you, it took me a very long time to do it. Two of the 7 bags had giveaways because they were not as perfectly made but the other 5 were. It was then that I had this sinking feeling that there are all these perfect fakes floating around in the secondary and black market. And unsuspecting buyers were paying a premium for them, not knowing they were fake.

Last August, someone came in with a yellow birkin, asking me to take a look at the bag. I took a look at it and had concluded that it was authentic. This was the time when I still had not seen how good the fakes had become. And when the same person came back today with the bag, telling me that she had good reason to believe it was fake, I reassessed the bag, with the knowledge of the good fakes now based on last October’s experience. The bag was indeed fake and even I was duped into thinking it was real.

I am so hesitant to post photos of fake Hermes birkins lately because it seems that the counterfeiters have taken to the internet to try to perfect the bags to make them look real enough. And then they make a nice killing out of selling each fake birkin– think of the huge profit margins. But I want to post this today. Because it alarms me that these “birkins” have made it to brick and mortar stores even in Hong Kong (the person who owns this yellow birkin claims to have purchased it in one of the many designer resale shops in Hong Kong). And you, my dear reader, could be duped into buying one if not careful enough :(

Now, here are the photos. I haven’t the time to pinpoint which areas led me to believe they are fake but for now, take a good look at them. There were some parts I had overlooked, but on the whole, this bag was honestly so deceivingly good for a fake.

fakeb1 fakeb2 fakeb3 fakeb4 fakeb5 fakeb6 fakeb7 fakeb8So after seeing the photos above, I would like to stress this to you all: PLEASE BUY DESIGNER BAGS AT OFFICIAL DESIGNER BOUTIQUES ONLY. If you are interested in buying a Hermes bag, please buy it from your local Hermes store. If they don’t have the bag that you want, don’t lose hope. Have your name written on their list if it’s open. But please, do not succumb to paying exorbitant amounts of money for one in the black market. I’m also not saying to mistrust all resellers, but all resellers are human. There can be times that they can make honest mistakes as well. Not having that bag you want so bad will not make you any less of a person. Not having that bag at that moment you want it won’t make you look bad in the eyes of anyone (and it should not matter anyway because the bag does not make you who you are).  Be patient. Wait. Extend your patience :) It’ll all be worth it in the end– and you get to keep your money a little longer. You might also just have saved yourself a lot of money!!

x
TheBagHag