Hermès Birkin Handbags: How to Tell if it's Real or Fake

Portero.com authenticator Elizabeth Bernstein shares savvy handbag tips

Authentic Hermes Birkin Bag at Portero.com
Authentic Hermes Birkin bag at Portero.com. By Jennifer Nicole Sullivan

The Hermès Birkin bag is highly coveted and highly counterfeited. When you’re shopping for a Birkin in the secondary marketplace—whether it’s new, pre-owned or vintage—make sure it’s authentic with these tips from Elizabeth Bernstein, senior director and authenticator of handbags and accessories at Portero.com. Here’s what to look for:

Hand Stitching
Hermès bags are all hand-stitched. “The stitching is not going to necessarily be even and uniform all the way across.

Whatever lovely French artisan is trying their best to make it as even as possible, but when you’re hand stitching something it’s not going to be perfectly symmetrical all over the entire bag,” Bernstein said.

Fake Hermès bags are machine stitched, so the stitching will be straight and even. “It’s not going to stay together as long—it’s not made as well,” she said.

Handles
Real Birkins have handles that stand straight up and down. “If someone stores their real Birkin bag wrong, sometimes you’ll get a bend to it. But when you hold it, you can’t tell,” Bernstein said.

Fake bags, like the one in the photo, sometimes have rounded or misshapen handles.

Hardware
Hermès hardware is made in either palladium or plated gold that features small markings indicating that it’s gold plated. The lock and keys feel heavy and not cheap.

On fake bags, the hardware tends to be replicated in plastic. It won’t look as sleek and may be a different color.

Toggle
When you twist the toggle on the bag, it opens smoothly. Toggles on fake bags will have some resistance and won’t feel as smooth when twisted.

Zippers
Hermès makes its own zippers that feature the Hermès name. But be careful, fake bags can also have counterfeit zippers that say “Hermès.”

Logo
“Hermès Paris Made in France” is stamped on the bag in a font that’s delicate, neat and sleek.

On fake bags, the font and stamping can be too big or blocky.

Lining
Most Birkins are lined in chevre leather, which is goatskin. “It’s grained; it’s not smooth. For me with the chevre leather, you can smell it. I may be one of the only people who say that. But it’s goat, it smells like a goat. I know that’s gross, but leather is leather. Hermès smells like an expensive new car,” Bernstein said.

No Authenticity Card
Hermès never has an authenticity card. “[The fake ones] are so funny. They’re plastic orange credit card looking things that say ‘Hermès,’” Bernstein said.

Protective Felt Saddle
When Hermès sells bags, they don’t want any leather touching leather. To protect it, they put a removable felt saddle on it. “The counterfeiters are even able to replicate the saddle, too,” Bernstein said.

Price
If an Hermès bag is priced too cheap, then it’s probably too good to be true. In the photo, this authentic Hermès Birkin bag (owned by Portero) is brand new and cost $18,000. Birkin bags on the secondary market cost “anywhere from the very, very cheapest, maybe $6,500 all the way up to, if it’s exotic, $150,000. And that’s not including diamonds,” Bernstein said.

Hermès Kelly bags tend to run less—“around $2,500 all the way up to $130,000,” she said.

“There are Hermès fakes that sell for a couple thousand dollars and the quality is better. They’re harder to tell,” Bernstein said.

Other authenticating tips:

  • Take a questionable bag to Hermès: If you have an Hermès bag that you’re unsure about, take it to an Hermès store and try to have it repaired. If it’s fake, Hermès will refuse it. “It might be embarrassing, but you can always say it was a gift,” Bernstein said.
  • Always buy from trusted dealers: When shopping for pre-owned bags online, turn to trusted websites like Portero.com that have a meticulous authentication process and a money-back guarantee. When shopping at consignment stores, get to know the owner and authenticators and ask about their authentication process. When it comes to buying handbags from individuals online (like eBay) or from handbag parties, use caution and be scrupulous. “I don’t recommend people buying bags on the fly from random places,” Bernstein said.
  • Look at the overall picture: If something seems off about a handbag, whether it’s the quality, a zipper or too-good-to-be-true price, trust your instinct. Get a second or third opinion or simply walk away.

For more handbag authentication tips from Elizabeth Bernstein, visit:
Chanel Handbags: How to Tell if it’s Real or Fake
Louis Vuitton Handbags: How to Tell if it’s Real or Fake
Real or Fake? How to Tell if Your Handbag is Authentic

For more tips, watch authentication videos on Portero.com.