Hermès Faces Lawsuit in California for Allegedly Selling Birkins Exclusively to ‘Worthy’ Customers

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Birkin bags are the epitome of luxury and exclusivity, commanding prices as high as $450,000. However, even if you have the cash, that doesn’t guarantee you can just go out and buy one. Two customers from California have initiated a lawsuit against Hermès, accusing the brand of monopolistic behavior. They argue that Hermès is breaking the law by requiring people to buy other Hermès products before they can get their hands on a Birkin bag.

The plaintiffs assert that Hermès wields significant market power over its Birkin bags, making it unlawful for the company to condition the sale of these bags on the purchase of additional products like footwear, scarves, or belts. U.S. law prohibits monopolies from engaging in “tie-in” sales that force customers to buy unrelated products to boost sales in non-dominant markets and stifle competition.

The plaintiffs accuse Hermès’s sales staff of being part of this scheme, claiming they encourage customers to purchase various items to increase their chances of buying a Birkin. As of yet, both Hermès and the plaintiffs’ lawyers have not commented on the matter.

The lawsuit describes the Birkin bag as an “icon of fashion,” a status symbol named after Jane Birkin, the beloved British actor and singer who passed away last year. This legal action seeks not only to challenge the alleged sales tactics but also to expose a practice that might be deemed embarrassing for potential buyers.

Buying a Birkin isn’t straightforward; Hermès doesn’t sell them online, and they aren’t displayed in stores like other items. The lawsuit claims that only selected customers, considered “worthy” by Hermès, are shown a Birkin bag, often in a private setting.

Furthermore, it’s mentioned that Hermès’s salespeople, who don’t earn extra money from selling Birkin bags, are supposedly instructed to use these bags as bait to persuade customers to buy more items from the store. The lawsuit aims to represent thousands of U.S. customers who’ve either bought items from Hermès in the hopes of acquiring a Birkin or were directly asked to buy more. Hermès, which operates approximately 43 stores across the U.S., including eight in California, faces demands for unspecified financial compensation and a court injunction against what is claimed to be unfair sales practices.