Luxury Giant Hermès Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Birkin

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Luxury French fashion house Hermès is facing legal action in California over allegations that it restricts the sale of its iconic Birkin bags to only select customers who meet certain criteria.

In a class action lawsuit filed on March 19th, two shoppers claimed they were compelled to purchase additional Hermès products, such as shoes, scarves, belts, or jewellery, before being allowed to buy a Birkin handbag. The lawsuit alleges that Hermès sales associates selectively offer Birkin bags only to customers who have established a sufficient purchase history with the brand, relegating the sought-after bags to private rooms separate from the main retail store.

According to the lawsuit, this practice, known as “tying,” violates US antitrust laws and allows Hermès to exploit its market power to increase the price of Birkin bags. Sales associates, the lawsuit claims, receive no commission on Birkin bag sales but are incentivized to push other luxury items with a three percent commission structure. This, the plaintiffs argue, forces consumers to purchase additional products to gain access to Birkin bags, facilitating an illegal tying arrangement.

One plaintiff, Tina Cavalleri, alleges she was coerced into spending “tens of thousands of dollars” at Hermès to gain access to a Birkin bag, while another plaintiff, Mark Glinoga, claims he was repeatedly told he needed to purchase other items before being offered a Birkin bag.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and a court order to halt Hermès’ alleged anticompetitive practices. Hermès, known for its elusive and highly coveted Birkin bags, has previously denied accusations of tying practices, stating it strictly prohibits sales conditions tied to other products.

While the legal battle unfolds, fashion enthusiasts continue to grapple with the challenge of obtaining an Hermès Birkin bag, which commands prices ranging from $10,000 to over $300,000