Thursday, July 30, 2015

Birkin bag: from status symbol to badge of shame

The ne plus ultra of luxury fashion status symbols is the target of a take-down by its celebrity namesake.
The crocodile Hermès Birkin bag, which can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, has spawned waiting lists of lore and is carried like a trophy by celebs from Oprah to Lady Gaga, is at the center of a controversy that has the power to affect the future of luxury fashion.
In case you missed it, British model/singer Jane Birkin is demanding that the bag be renamed, after she learned about the cruelty to crocodiles used to make the bags.
"Having been alerted to the cruel practices endured by crocodiles during their slaughter for the production of Hermès bags carrying my name....I have asked Hermès Group to rename the Birkin until better practices responding to international norms can be implemented for the production of this bag," Birkin said in a statement published at
Her response came after she viewed the animal rights organization’s stomach-turning expose “Belly of the Beast,” which looks at the farming and slaughter of reptiles in undercover videos from Texas and Zimbabwe farms, including a scene where a crocodile is sawed open alive. The skins are not only used for bags, but also shoes and watch bands.
Hermès has denied that the farms in the video are theirs, and issued a statement saying, “Hermes respects and shares her emotions and was also shocked by the images recently broadcast.” The bag was created by former Hermès executive Jean-Louis Dumas ‎in 1984.
But that hasn't quieted the outrage, which PETA has been stoking for several weeks by organizing protests around luxury shopping districts, promoting thehashtag #killedforhermes on social media and teaming up with the group Freedom of Animals to create a mockcroc, vegan "Virkin” bag, selling for $400, with 20% of sales of the style to be donated to PETA. (PETA gifted the bag to at least one celeb and Birkin collector, Victoria Beckham, in hopes of getting her to turn on the brand, according to the Daily Mail in London.)
ocial media’s court of public opinion ‎has mostly applauded Birkin's high-profile diss, with some Twitter users calling her a "fashion hero."
The controversy is interesting for a few reasons. Animal rights protesters used to be a mainstay at fashion weeks in New York and Europe, storming the runways with predictable regularity at high-profile shows by Christian Dior, Jean Paul Gaultier and others. But in recent years, they have been largely silent as PETA shifted its message online to social media. This controversy is a victory for the group, which has half a million Twitter followers, and further proof of how celebrity shaming can be a tactic to promote outrage and activism.
It could also signal a tipping point in the trend of ethical consumerism, and how it will define the future of luxury. So far, the discussion has centered around sustainability, with images of the Rana Plaza factory disaster in Bangladesh, and the recent film “The True Cost” increasing shoppers’ awareness of the human and environmental toll of consumption.  The Hermes Birkin controversy is expanding the discussion to include fashion’s toll on the animal kingdom in the most high-profile way, by targeting the very symbol of luxury, the vaunted Hermes brand.
Whether all of this influences the Hermes bottom line is another story.
Forty-five percent of the French luxury goods firm’s sales come from leather goods, including crocodile, ostrich and calf, and the Birkin is the brand’s most famous design. Waiting lists for the bags, which are made by hand, are legendary, with shoppers waiting months to pay six figures for the coveted carry-alls. Several books have been published about the phenomenon, including “Bringing Home The Birkin: My Life in Hot Pursuit of the World’s Most Coveted Handbag,” in 2009.
In recent years, though, the ostentatious style has been so overexposed in paparazzi photos and on reality TV that it’s almost become outre. Last year, many pop culture observers gagged when Kanye West gave Kim Kardashian an Hermes Birkin bag for her 34th birthday that had been hand painted by their 1-year-old daughter, North. And in 2010, Lady Gaga made headlines for defacing her white Birkin with a Sharpie.
Meanwhile, Hermes has been downplaying flash in favor of a more stealth-wealth look. And when Hermes’ newly appointed design director Nadege Vanhee-Cybulski (who came from The Row) showed her first collection for the brand at Paris Fashion Week in March, there wasn’t a Birkin to be seen on the runway. Instead, the collection was quiet and minimal, right down to the new, structured Octogone handbag.
Will this be the beginning of a true movement away from trophy bags in exotic skins or a momentary social media blip? Will the Birkin bag go from status symbol to badge of shame? Only time will tell.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Hermes Vancouver store robbed, truck driven through window

Around 4 a.m. on Saturday morning, the Hermes Vancouver store on Alberni Street in downtown was broken into as a truck was driven into the storefront window.
The individual (unknown how many people were involved) then broke the store’s security camera and stole merchandise, according to repair workers.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Bill Clinton Gets in Some Retail Therapy at Hermès in Paris

Former President Bill Clinton Shops at Hermes in Paris
Bill Clinton

When in Paris, even former President Bill Clinton can apparently spare a little time for shopping – at Hermès.

A five-car convoy carrying the former president and a security detachment arrived out front of the luxury brand's landmark boutique on Monday at noon.

"There were about a dozen security men – American and French – with him and they went inside," an observer tells PEOPLE.

Hermès on Faubourg St Honoré is a shopper's mecca known for scarves, leather goods and luxury items. A spokesperson for the shop tells PEOPLE, it "never discloses details about its clientele."

Clinton, 68, spent more than an hour on the shop's third floor section, where windows were closed after his arrival. The observer speculated: "He's up there, probably buying the store."

He reportedly left with several shopping bags though they're hard to spot in the video below. We can't help but wonder what he purchased and whether Clinton was shopping for himself or his wife and U.S. presidential hopeful, Hillary Clinton. The luxury store sells ties for about $225; a leather belt can set you back nearly $1,000.

It certainly seems like the former president would be able to afford the luxe shopping trip – as the New York Times reported June 17, the Clintons' net worth is somewhere between $11.3 million and $52.7 million, according to public disclosure statements filed earlier this year, among other assets and earnings under the Former Presidents Act of 1958.

Messages left with the Clinton Foundation have not yet been returned.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Author claims infamous Birkin bag ‘waiting list’ doesn’t exist

Author claims infamous Birkin bag ‘waiting list’ doesn’t exist

In “Primates of Park Avenue,” Dr. Wednesday Martin writes about a supposed epic “waiting list” that upscale ladies clamor to get on to procure Birkin bags from fashion house Hermès.
But “Bringing Home the Birkin” author Michael ­Tonello has said the “list” no long­er exists — if it ever did.
“They no longer use the term ‘waiting list,’ ” he said. Instead, “They encourage people to ‘establish a relationship’ with a salesperson who will help them try to get a Birkin.”
Tonello was at consignment shop 2nd Time Around on Wednesday, and certified that all its Birkins were legit as he signed copies of his book, which chronicles his life as a specialist traveling the world to nab Hermès bags for clients.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Clean Out Your Closets - There's LOTS of $$$ in Luxury Resale!

A Re-branded 2nd Time Around to Expand

Kristin Burrows

Second Time Around, which operates 40 stores across the U.S., wants to capture a bigger piece of the $14 billion to $16 billion resale market.
The retailer, whose tag line is “Resale Goes Upscale,” plans to more than double its store count by 2017. It’s also re-branding itself as 2nd Time Around and launching e-commerce in the third or fourth quarter of this year.
Kristin Burrows, president and chief executive officer, envisions six to eight new stores in Manhattan, which has 10 existing units. “We haven’t touched Brooklyn yet,” she said. And with stores clustered along the Eastern Seaboard, Chicago and Miami are priorities, along with heading West.
Top stores in the chain do $1.5 million to $1.8 million in annual sales, Burrows said. The stores average 1,250 to 1,500 square feet in size.
A new 2nd Time Around logo is visible on stores’ exterior and interior signage and the Web site has been redesigned with bigger images and a modern, less cluttered layout. “The logo and creative identity were inconsistent and looked very thrifty,” Burrows said. “We wanted to create something that was fresh.”
Top-selling brands include Theory, Helmut Lang, J. Crew Black Label, Diane von Furstenberg, Alexander Wang, T Alexander Wang, Missoni, M Missoni, Vince, Chanel, Burberry and Givenchy.
“It’s a very fragmented market,” Burrows said of resale. “It’s gone through different ebbs and flows.”
According to Burrows, 2nd Time Around competes with mom-and-pop consignment shops and new online players such as The Real Real and Vaunt.
“We have an opportunity to own the contemporary market on up through designer,” she said. “We have the largest base of brick-and-mortar stores and we use them as an asset.”
The two groups of constituents, shoppers and consignors, make the business unique. Burrows wants to make consigning easier, so 2nd Time Around will offer a pick-up service. The company provides online accounts for consignors to track their sales in real time.
Items are put on the sales floor within 48 hours and sell within three weeks on average, she said. Each store has two racks at the front designated “Style Editor Picks,” where looks are merchandised by outfit.
The company has “call-to-purchase” options on its social channels. “We do 10 percent to 12 percent of our sales on social media, especially Instagram,” Burrows said. When e-commerce launches, it will be mobile first and desktop second. “We’ll be adding a CRM database.”
Sales associates are trained to “style like Intermix,” Burrows said. “It’s all about wardrobing.
“We want women to leave feeling beautiful and smart,” Burrows said, noting that prices are generally one-third of retail. Consignors receive 40 percent of apparel sales and 70 percent of sales of trophy handbags such as Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Hermès.
“We just got two Birkin bags in,” Burrows said, standing in the Chelsea store. “People are looking for unique pieces.”
The firm is introducing a formal loyalty program. About 80 percent of the retailer’s business is generated by 30 percent of its customers.



Monday, June 15, 2015

The rise and rise of Pixie Rose Curtis, 3, the Princess of Instagram

CLAD in a red Dolce & Gabbana dress, with her trademark bows in her hair, Pixie swings her mini-Birkin in the air and shrieks with laughter. She gives the strap of the $12,000 Hermès bag a hearty nibble then wails in frustration when her little fingers can’t open the clasp to reach the chocolates inside.
Draped in more designer items than most adults would wear in their lifetime, it’s all in a day’s work for kid-trepreneur Pixie Curtis, who, apart from screaming in terror at the sight of a sausage dog, doesn’t seem fazed by the team of stylists, photographers and assistants around her at the Sunday Style photoshoot.
Which is all the more remarkable, as she’s only three years old.
But then, everything about Pixie’s life is remarkable – she’s just not aware of it yet.
Thanks to the assiduous skills of her mum, Sydney publicist Roxy Jacenko, Pixie has become one of the most famous – and wealthiest – little girls in social media.
In the alternative universe of Instagram, Pixie is a very big deal indeed.
She’s racked up 107,400 followers and, represented by Jacenko’s management arm, Ministry of Talent, charges clients $500-plus per product placement on her feed.
She’s up there with some of the world’s biggest child stars – such as 15-month-old Millie-Belle Diamond from Sydney, who boasts 133,000 followers; LA’s Mini Style Hacker, Ryker Wixom, five, with 259,000 fans; and five-year-old American Gavin Duh, 173,000 fans.
But they can all only aspire to reach the dizzy heights of five-year-old South Korean-born Breanna Youn, who delights 1.3 million followers with her daily fashion updates.
But where Pixie leaves her rivals in the dust is with her business, Pixies Bows – a range of hair bows and accessories with a multimillion-dollar turnover.
“I look at this whole thing from afar and think, ‘This is not normal,’” concedes Jacenko, 35.
“The Instagram following is not normal, Pixies Bows is not normal.
“I didn’t think you could do so well out of a hair-bow business, but if you see an opportunity, if you’re savvy you maximise it.
“People were asking where she got her hair bows,” she recalls.
“I thought, ‘Bugger telling people where to get them, I’m going to make them.’”

The rise and rise of Pixie Rose Curtis
Pixie Rose Curtis is already a seasoned traveller and has a huge Instagram following.
She began manufacturing them in China and now they’re stocked all over the globe and have been worn by celebrity offspring including Suri Cruise, Haven Warren (Jessica Alba’s daughter), and Sarah Jessica Parker’s twin daughters, Marion and Tabitha.
All profits go into Pixie’s savings, and although her mum is coy about figures, sources suggest Pixie has enough that she’d never need to work.
Pixie’s jet-set life is the stuff of fantasy – and what earned her an enormous following to begin with.
Just before this cover shoot, she’d been on a five-star trip to Dubai to launch her bows in the UAE, staying at the luxe Atlantis, The Palm hotel.
Before that, she’d been to the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia.
She’s pictured having a pedi at The Langham Sydney, parking her mini Merc next to Mummy’s Bentley and holding her Birkin outside Cecconi’s on a trip to LA.
The latter sent her global fans into a frenzy.
“She’s not on the internet doing the wrong thing; she’s on the internet being a kid. She’s doing things in a very fortunate capacity, but they’re not detrimental. It’s my job as her mother to protect her.”
Jacenko says it all began after a photo of Pixie on a family holiday in Italy.
“It really took off when we travelled to Europe and I gave her a plastic wine glass as she sat by the pool,” she says.
The holiday snaps – which included Pixie boarding a private jet, riding a helicopter and playing with Louis Vuitton luggage – led to BuzzFeed calling her “the Princess of Instagram”.
Overnight, her Instagram profile – which Jacenko says she started like any mum, “as a bit of fun”– went to 60,000 followers in two days.
It’s now almost double the size of Jacenko’s own.
And while it may not have been started commercially, Jacenko, as owner of Sweaty Betty PR, was quick to see the potential.
“People were sending her gifts. I don’t really have time to write thank-you notes, so the quickest way was to post a picture on Instagram,” she says.
“Then people offered to send her garments or toys and pay to post them, and you know what? It never really crossed my mind if it was right or wrong.”

Pixie wearing a Dolce & Gabbana dress, one of her own Pixie Bows and Armani Junior shoes.
Pixie wearing a Dolce & Gabbana dress, one of her own Pixie Bows and Armani Junior shoes.
Now Pixie has become a brand, touted as “the voice of her generation” according to Jacenko’s PR blurb.
Her bio lists “relationships” with Seed Heritage, Crocs, Best & Less and Pottery Barn.
Pixie clearly enjoys herself – she’s a funny, charming and sweet little girl who seems unaware that her lifestyle is anything out of the ordinary.
Despite the fact she came in a Burberry trench and Stella McCartney sandals, she’s holding Mum to the promise they’ll go and buy a 100 per cent polyester Elsa Frozen frock as a treat.
Jacenko says Pixie’s life is simply her life.
“She goes to preschool like every other kid, but when there’s free time, I try to expose her to as much as I can – whether it be travel or a fashion show,” she says.
“I suppose it’s not normal for a three-year-old, but if I’m doing it, she has to come with me.”
Doesn’t she worry she’s commercialised her daughter? No, she says definitively.
“As long as the child is having fun and is not in danger, it doesn’t cross my mind it’s wrong. When she’s not having fun, we’ll stop.”
“For now she is having fun, there are opportunities – she’s in a position where she’s making money. Is the child in danger? No. Is she having fun? Yes. Is she being given opportunities to be a well-rounded person? Yes.”
On cue, a not-having-fun-any more Pixie wails, “Mum, can we gooo?”
Jacenko seamlessly assures her they’re waiting for “the man to bring the car”, even though she drove herself.
“I live for the now, and as long as there are opportunities, it’s OK,” Jacenko adds.
“If, in a year or six months, she doesn’t want to do it, I’ll stop.
“But she’s not doing anything unusual – it’s not dissimilar to a child modelling.”
And yet it is unusual that a three-year-old has her own business, social-media profile and blog.
It is unusual that she carries a handbag that costs the same as a small car.
“No, it’s not really her bag. It’s mine,” Jacenko explains.
“Shame on me if I did buy her that bag. She doesn’t have extravagant things like that. I’m not an idiot.
“If she had $12,000, that should go in the bank to put towards a deposit when she’s old enough to buy property.”
And what does she say to critics who suggest she’s pre-determining her future? What if Pixie wanted to be a criminal lawyer, say, or Prime Minister?
“From a long-term perspective, I haven’t even really thought about it,” she says.
“For now she is having fun, there are opportunities – she’s in a position where she’s making money.
“Is the child in danger? No. Is she having fun? Yes. Is she being given opportunities to be a well-rounded person? Yes.
“She had to go to bed early last night because she had to come to a job today.
At the end of the job she can go and do something fun.
“I don’t care what other people think, I’ve been judged since I started my own business at 24. I’m used to criticism.”

Pixie wearing one of her own bow creations from Pixie Bows.
Pixie wearing one of her own bow creations from Pixie Bows.
Pixie is an Instagram star thanks to her mum.
Pixie is an Instagram star thanks to her mum.
Jacenko dismisses the concern that a childhood littered over the internet could affect that child’s future.
“I don’t see that any of the pictures would be to her detriment in the future. She’s not exposed in a Miley Cyrus way,” she says.
“She’s not on the internet doing the wrong thing; she’s on the internet being a kid.
“She’s doing things in a very fortunate capacity, but they’re not detrimental.
“It’s my job as her mother to protect her,” she continues.
“I have to make sure I do the right thing for my family, provide for my family, give my children the best possible upbringing I can and an understanding that you have to conduct yourself in an appropriate fashion in all walks of life.”
“Responsibility” is a word that reoccurs regularly in Jacenko’s vocabulary.
Jacenko is married to investment banker Oliver Curtis, son of mining magnate Nick Curtis, with whom she has Pixie and a son, Hunter, born last year.

One of the Instagram posts of Pixie.
One of the Instagram posts of Pixie.
Roxy and her daughter Pixie.
Roxy and her daughter Pixie.
Curtis is currently awaiting trial over conspiracy to commit insider trading, to which he’s pleaded not guilty.
Does she feel an added sense of responsibility because of her husband’s legal problems?
“I have a responsibility to the family irrespective of that court case,” she says.
“I think it’s because I watched my parents work so hard that I have this in-built in me.
“I have a responsibility, not only to Ollie but also the children.
“It’s an obsession of mine to make my mother proud. That’s more than anything.
“I want my mum to think I did my very best.”
Jacenko says her childhood has shaped her parenting style.
Although born into money, she was taught to work for what she wanted.
“My parents gave me a strong work ethic.
“Yes, I came from a very comfortable family, had private schooling and was given every opportunity.
“But from the age of 14 I worked every evening, and in my early twenties I worked a weekend job – because I wanted to create something for my future.
“I’d like to see Pixie do what I did and buy an apartment on her own, not to be someone who has their hand out.
“I have the ability to give her everything, but you know what? I don’t want to do that.
“I often hear, ‘Oh, her parents are very wealthy; they bought her her business,’” she says, adding, “I laugh and say, ‘Come be a fly on the wall in my business’ – I have more aggravation in my life than anyone would care to take note of.”
Some of that aggravation is with her family – she’s estranged from her fashion manufacturer father, Nick Jacenko, and doesn’t speak to her younger sister, Ruby, after she took out an AVO against her following a fight in a club in 2008.

Pixie graces the cover of Sunday Style magazine.
Pixie graces the cover of Sunday Style magazine.
But none of this can stop the whirlwind that is Roxy and Pixie Inc.
“I work seven days a week to have the life I have. But I have a responsibility to support my family and to give them the best upbringing, and that comes from work,” she says.
“I am obsessive over it.
“But I was brought up to know that nothing comes from nothing.”
So what’s next?
Hunter just celebrated his first birthday – the party featured on his sister’s Instagram feed, and he has his own profile, of course.
So can we expect Brand Hunter?
“I have no plans for that,” Jacenko says.
“If you try to manufacture something, it won’t work.”
But after a pause she adds, “Although, if something came up and it was suitable, well then, maybe.”
Originally published as There’s something about Pixie


NBC-TV/Today Show
Summer Reading Round-Up

Bringing Home the Birkin
top 10 summer reads!




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Bag Man