Saturday, May 31, 2014

Police identify man accused of stealing £150k worth of designer handbags

Police have identified a man accused of stealing £150,000 worth of designer Chanel, Hermes and Birkin bags.
Christopher Gibbs, 31, of Paddington, is believed to be one of three men who stormed boutique store Designer Exchange, in Knightsbridge, and made off with the designer bags on Saturday, May 24.
Police have described Gibbs as ‘dangerous’ and are advising members of the public to not approach him.
Gibbs is thought to have entered the shop with two accomplices wearing masks but his mask slipped as he left the store, making it possible for police to identify him.
Customers in the boutique said afterwards they were left traumatised by the ordeal.
It follows a similar raid last month of the nearby Chanel store in Brompton Road.
Detective Chief Inspector Rhys Willis, of Kensington and Chelsea Police, said: “Officers executed a number of warrants today searching for property and the suspect Christopher Gibbs who is now wanted for this offence.

Friday, May 30, 2014

The Rise of the superfake!

They can cost thousands - with craftsmanship to rival the real thing. And they're becoming status symbols in their own right

  • These knock offs are so good that even experts can't tell them apart
  • Super-fakes use the same best quality materials as designer houses
  • Fake designer goods are worth £3billion a year
  • Women knowingly buy fake goods, despite earning £50,000 a year
  • Super-fakes can cost as much as £2000 

    With its super-soft fabric and chain-link strap, designer Stella McCartney’s Falabella bag is loved by celebrities including Victoria Beckham and Kate Hudson.
    Nicola Espada loves the one she bought, too. As soon as she saw the tote online, the 34-year-old knew it would make the perfect 60th birthday present for her mother.
    ‘It’s beautiful,’ says the business project manager from London. ‘I knew Mum liked it, but had been put off by the price: £700.’ 
    Bags of style: Nicola Espada and her copy of Stella McCartney's Falabella bag
    Bags of style: Nicola Espada and her copy of Stella McCartney's Falabella bag

    A generous daughter, you might think. Or maybe not — for the bag Nicola has bought is a fake. She has not been hoodwinked, neither could you consider her a cheapskate. For her counterfeit Falabella cost more than £100, rather than the £10 you might expect to pay for a cheap copy.
    It’s a so-called ‘super-fake’: knock-off goods that look and feel so like their designer counterparts that even experts find it difficult to distinguish them. And far from feeling ashamed they can’t afford the genuine article, buyers brag they’re carrying a very clever copy. 
    In fact, many see it as one in the eye for design houses that have racked up the prices of It bags beyond the reach of most women.
    Super-fakes are produced in the Far East, though some come from Greece or Italy, and are made by craftsmen skilled in cutting and stitching. They use the best quality materials: top-grade leather from the same suppliers as the designer houses.
    Logos are meticulously copied and the sumptuous linings echo the originals. Many have serial numbers or date stamps and some even come with shop labels with the barcode on.
    And they’re flooding into Britain. The counterfeiting industry, mainly fake designer goods, is worth £3 billion a year. From 2010 to 2011, it’s estimated the market increased by 60 per cent.   
    In a recent survey, more than half of respondents admitted to knowingly buying fake goods, with  one in five saying they earn more than £50,000 a year. 
    Orange Birkin bag
    Can you tell the difference?: A real Hermes Birkin (left) and it's super-fake (right)

    Indeed, the demand for super-fakes is being driven by squeezed middle-class women unwilling to give up their designer status symbols.
    And it is being met by the rapid rise in the number of websites openly offering ‘discount’ luxury goods, which are visited by seven million shoppers a month.
    The attention to detail on the super-fakes means they often retail for three figures. Some copies of Hermes’ Birkin cost more than £2,000. Expensive, yes, but not when you can pay up to £50,000 for the original.
    Nicola believes her bag is worth every penny. ‘I don’t feel guilty about it. If anything, my mum will think I’ve been sensible not spending £700 on a bag.
    ‘I know what a genuine Stella McCartney looks like and I couldn’t believe how real the bag looked. It feels expensive and is the same, heavy weight as the genuine one. Even the “Made in Italy” logo in the pocket is the same.’
    I know what a genuine Stella McCartney looks like and I couldn’t believe how real the bag looked
    Nicola Espada

    The fact that fakes are now such high quality is proving a headache for the likes of Hermes, Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Burberry, some of the main brands being targeted.
    Chrissie Florczyk, director general of the Anti-Counterfeiting Group, says: ‘Genuine customers don’t buy bags that have been heavily counterfeited because it doesn’t seem exclusive. Design houses are spending considerable sums to shut down the fake websites, but it’s not easy.
    ‘Many may have a British web address, but the servers will be in China, where UK law enforcement has no power over them.’
    It’s incredibly easy to buy super-fakes from the internet. Sellers on websites such as iOffer market their bags on the very fact that they’re high- quality, low-cost copies.
    Sellers post details of their goods on the site and you can haggle over the price, before paying through a secure channel such as PayPal, meaning your credit card details are protected. A lookalike Mulberry Bayswater can be bought for £179.95 or a Hermes Birkin for £784.  
    And business is clearly booming, judging from the hundreds of reviews posted on sellers’ pages. 
    The real deal... almost: 'I know what a genuine Stella McCartney looks like and I couldn't believe how real the bag looked' says Nicola
    The real deal... almost: 'I know what a genuine Stella McCartney looks like and I couldn't believe how real the bag looked' says Nicola

    Close up: Experts find it hard to tell super-fakes apart form the their genuine counterparts
    Close up: Experts find it hard to tell super-fakes apart form the their genuine counterparts

    ‘My bag was wrapped carefully and is amazing quality! Highly recommended, will definitely buy again,’ raves one about her fake Birkin, while another writes ‘Well worth the money, looks like an original’ of her Mulberry Alexa.
    There are other sites you need to be in the know about to get signed up to their emailing lists. These can put you in touch with suppliers, but close down their websites regularly and then set them up again under a different name to prevent detection. Broadcaster Alley Rose, 39, often buys such bags.
    ‘You choose the handbag you want: a £300 version that’s spot on, a £200 one that’s slightly less so and the price goes down until you get the obviously fake,’ she says.  
    ‘You can also go online and say: “Can I have this bag or that bag?” If they don’t already sell it, they’ll make you a bespoke copy.
    ‘But you have to be careful. I bought fake Christian Louboutin shoes from a Chinese website that got stopped at Customs in the UK. I got a letter saying they were going to be destroyed.’
    Alley, who lives in West London with her four-year-old daughter, worked in Hong Kong a few years ago and visited the factories that make the bags sold in Britain.
    ‘They’re trained craftsmen and the more people who work on it, the more expensive it is,’ she says. ‘I bought a beautiful Celine handbag for £110. I’d seen the model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley carrying it, but was horrified to find the real thing cost £1,500. Who wouldn’t love the real thing, but who can afford it? Besides, this is just as beautiful and you’d have to be an expert to tell that it isn’t genuine.’
    Mum's the word: Nicola bought the super-fake as a birthday present for her mother
    Mum's the word: Nicola bought the super-fake as a birthday present for her mother

    Alley feels no guilt at depriving the designers of a sale. ‘Chanel and Louis Vuitton are pricing bags out of the lower end of the market, so super-fakes are replacing them,’ she says.
    Prices are certainly soaring. In five years, Chanel’s large classic flap bag has increased by 70 per cent to £2,740, while a Mulberry Bayswater that cost £650 in early 2012 now sells for £895.
    And believe it or not, it’s not illegal to buy fakes, according to Handley Brustad of the Trading Standards Institute.
    ‘In the UK, it’s only an offence to sell counterfeit goods,’ he says. ‘Though if it’s coming from abroad and Customs seize it, you’ll have to sign it over for destruction. If you don’t, then they can take you to court as an importer of foreign goods.’
    The counterfeiters use a host of tricks to get them into Britain. ‘They come in piecemeal,’ says Mr Brustad. ‘A handbag and the badge will come in separately and then they are assembled here before being sold.
    ‘I’ve seen bags with an “OO” label — no problem there. But the leather can be snipped away to make the Chanel “CC” logo.
    ‘I’ve also seen counterfeits come in with cheap labels stitched over a fake Ralph Lauren logo — then they just remove the stitching.’
    But the brands are fighting back. In September, the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit was set up to protect British companies from online fraud. A raid in Liverpool in March netted a huge number of fake handbags, boots, sunglasses and cosmetics and led to the arrest of two men.
    Many may feel no sympathy for the luxury brands. But a recent crime report may give them pause for thought. It found that 79 per cent of criminal counterfeiters had links to other forms of organised crime, such as money laundering and drug dealing.
    So, while you may believe that buying a £135 Louis Vuitton rip-off isn’t hurting anyone but the brand, perhaps it’s doing more harm than you think.


Sunday, May 25, 2014

The mega rich: Yachts, private planes and crystal-studded baths...

The dream of winning a million is an every-day fantasy of most people, but experts suggest that we would find it difficult to live among the world's super rich

< Ten Lifestyle also do billionaires’ personal shopping, with staff liaising with stores like Liberty, Selfridges and Harrods to source the latest designer gear for demanding customers. Their most requested item is the Hermes Birkin bag, costing up to £10,000. >

Mega rich: (Left to right) Kirsty Bartarelli, Phillip Green, Petra and Tamara Ecclestone
The dream of winning a million and joining the jet set has long been a fantasy of ordinary mortals.
But these days a million pounds wouldn’t even get you into the VIP departure lounge in the weird world of the mega rich – let alone on the plane sipping champagne.
They are the one per cent of the global population to whom the word ‘millionaire’ means someone with small change.
Enough, maybe, to buy you a swanky apartment in London – but what about the yacht, the Picasso, and the crystal-studded bath, darling?
And then there’s the private plane, the ski chalet in Courcheval, and the ­superstar-studded birthday party. A mere million won’t get you that.
Even in our wildest lottery dreams, we’d find it hard to imagine life among the super rich, say the experts who keep an eye on their world.
According to a report, the average billionaire spends £13million on yachts, £9.5million on private planes and £8.2million on art.
Author Stewart Lansley has written extensively about Britain’s super rich, including Topshop boss Philip Green, 62.
Stewart says there two types of billionaire – the ones who prefer to be discreet and those who like to splash the cash.
He says: “Philip Green is an extrovert, he loves to throw a party so he’s always lavishing money on guests. They spend money like water.”
Green blew £6.5million on his 60th birthday bash, flying out Michael Bublé, Stevie Wonder and Robbie Williams to entertain guests at a resort in Mexico.
Included was a £150,000 fireworks display and guests drank Cos d’Estournel 2001 at £120 a bottle and Puligny-Montrachet La Garenne 2009 at £80.
Green’s daughter Chloe, 23, has taken up her father’s lifestyle. When she’s not in Barbados with ex Marc Anthony, Ibiza with Kate Moss, or Miami with her brother Brandon, Chloe skis in elite French resort Courcheval or hangs out on the Greens’ £20million yacht at Monte Carlo.
For her 18th birthday pressie she got a flat in London’s Belgravia and she claims to own 70 pairs of Louboutin heels.
The daughters of billionaire Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone, 83, are no strangers to spending. In 2010 Tamara, 29, hit the headlines when she paid £1million for a bath tub studded with rare Amazon crystals, saying: “I spend a lot of time in the bath.”
And younger sister Petra thought nothing of splashing £91million on a 57,000 sq ft hilltop LA mansion.
These days you don’t have to be aristocracy to live the life of Riley. The UK’s richest woman is neither an heiress nor a Lady.
Kirsty Bertarelli, 42, is a former Miss UK who came third in the 1988 Miss World contest and wrote songs for the ’90s band All Saints.
She is worth £7.4billion and enjoys holidays with her Swiss husband on board their £100million yacht.
Josh Spero, editor of Spear’s magazine for the ultra-rich, says the real bragging-rights trophies among the super rich are, inevitably, yachts and supercars – but also art.
“With the cars, we’re not talking about stuff you see on Top Gear,” he says. “These are models you’ve never even heard of because they’re so expensive and produced in such limited numbers.
“When it comes to art, paintings by Picasso and Francis Bacon go for tens of millions. Jeff Koons’ work has sold for just shy of $58million.
" People who can afford it see it as a huge investment and can get very competitive about it too.”
Roman Abramovich
Roman Abramovich's yacht, which is worth around £300million

But there are also the rare billionaires who prefer to stay out of the limelight. The best-known is Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, 47.
Stewart says: “He has a lot of properties and yachts but in person he’s a very quiet man. He’s shy and doesn’t like to socialise.”
Eclipse, the super yacht owned by the Russian, is said to be worth around £300million. It boasts two helicopter pads, 24 guest cabins, two pools, several hot tubs, three launch boats, a mini-submarine and around 70 crew members.

Another man happy to spend his fortune sailing the seas is truly mega-rich Brit James Dyson, inventor and founder of Dyson vacuum cleaners.
He recently spent £25million refitting the Nahlin, a luxury steam yacht built in 1929 and once used by King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson.
Then there are the anonymous billionaires.
Josh says: “You will always get a few fame-seekers, but what most very wealthy people want is to be left alone. Some even employ reputation managers to keep them out of the rich list.
"They don’t want people writing to them begging for money. They don’t want to be at risk of kidnapping.”
But whatever type they are, the mega rich expect their money to talk for them and to get what they want – as the ‘lifestyle concierges’ who help plan their daily lives know only too well.
Alex Cheatly, boss of concierge firm Ten Lifestyle, says: “I had a female client call to say her daughter really wanted to go and see Justin Bieber but it was sold out.
“So we sorted front row seats and the daughter got to go backstage to meet Justin after the show.”
Earlier this month Alex arranged for a British client living in Singapore to fly to London with his teenage son for 48 hours to see the FA Cup Final.
They requested a box at Wembley plus dinner, hotel and hospitality, costing the client tens of thousands of pounds. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
One employee at a top concierge service told us of the Saudi prince who had portraits of his face made from chocolate to give to guests at his birthday party.
She also recalled a client who phoned them while on the toilet in his Dubai hotel to say he’d run out of loo roll. He asked them to call the hotel thousands of miles away to demand they send up more.
 Aaron Spelling Candy mansion

Petra Ecclestone's £91million hilltop mansion in Los Angeles 
 Then there was the rich philanderer who would regularly send flowers to several different women at once, with the same message, while keeping a note on his account warning staff not to tell his wife.
Alex says this kind of thing is par for the course when your net worth comes with nine zeros.
He says: “A client will express an interest in a new Jag and we will arrange to have one sent to their home with a couple of alternative models to test drive.”
Ten Lifestyle also do billionaires’ personal shopping, with staff liaising with stores like Liberty, Selfridges and Harrods to source the latest designer gear for demanding customers. Their most requested item is the Hermes Birkin bag, costing up to £10,000.
And having mega bucks means billionaires also don’t have to deal with the day-to-day annoyances of household chores.
Clients will send over a to-do list detailing a stain on the carpet, wonky shelf, broken doorbell and dripping tap and the team will book the handymen.
And requests can be as sublime or ridiculous as the client’s whim.
Alex says: “We once had a mother contact to ask if we could source a child’s fancy dress outfit for a party the next day.”
But Spear’s editor Josh says billionaires’ children are rarely brought up spoilt. “Most rich parents I know want their kids to grow up appreciating the value of money,” he says. “A lot of them are big philanthropists too. They give a lot of their money away to charities.”
But ultimately the question we all want the answer to is this: Does all their money make them happier than us?
Josh doesn’t think so. “Rich people still suffer from all the same problems as us. They fall ill, relationships fail, they just have a better cushion for dealing with it.
“And of course they have problems specific to their lifestyle such as ‘Oh God, is there a problem with my private jet?’”
So forget that worrying noise coming from under your old banger’s bonnet, and spare a thought for the billionaire hearing the same sound at 40,000ft.

By Francesca Cookney

Friday, May 23, 2014

Martha Stewart, Anna Wintour Party It Up at Hermes Bash

The French fashion house brought its popular luxe wares to a magical event on New York's Wall Street Tuesday night.

Courtesy of Hermes
Where does a luxury label that continues to post record sales growth host one of its splashiest events of the year? On Wall Street, of course.
In the shadow of the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday night, Hermes presented "All About Women," a spotlight on the craft of the storied French label. Previous incarnations have taken place in Paris and Shanghai -- so why New York this year? "We just felt the timing was right to do something in May right before the Memorial Day holiday, and to create an evening all about theatre, discovery, magic and fun," explained Robert Chavez, president of Hermes of Paris, the label's U.S. arm. "Hermes is uncompromising in terms of quality and craftsmanship, but we also want to do it with that element of magic and surprise, and that's what you're seeing here tonight. All of the products relate to women, but are presented here in a whimsical, fun, yet very committed way."

Chavez co-hosted the evening with Hermes CEO Axel Dumas (a sixth-generation descendent of founder Thierry Hermes); together they welcomed a client-heavy audience of more than 700, including Jodie Foster, Martha Stewart, Glenda Bailey, Anna Wintour and Scout Willis. The night kicked off with an encore presentation of the Hermes fall-winter collection, which debuted in Paris on March 5, thus allowing those who didn't catch its premiere to enjoy an up-close chance to ogle Christophe Lemaire's sumptuous take on the season, seen in some exquisite oversize coats in leather or cashmere, menswear-inspired suits and dresses that artfully employed one of the house's most iconic elements, its scarf prints.
Once Lemaire took his bow, it was off to the carnival downstairs. The "magic and fun" Chavez referred to took on a variety of forms, though each circled back to the Hermes wares women find so lustworthy. A duet of female guitarists performed "songs of silk" in a tent crafted in a kaleidoscope of silk carres, while next door, hula dancers undulated in Hermes swimwear. Across from dancing girls executing their routines in the house's sandals -- with each carrying a different handbag -- guests were served Champagne at the Bangle Bar from women whose faces were obscured by the circular structure so you could more easily notice the enamel bracelets each wore from wrist to elbow. And near a display of equestrian-themed leather goods, Stewart gamely took part in the fun by having her photo taken on a carousel horse.

Following these and other temptations, it was back upstairs, where a nightclub had replaced the runway. Wintour and Bailey had ducked out by then, but Chavez was last seen on the dance floor, dancing with a carefree spirit to Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots are Made for Walkin'." And why not? Hermes has likely sold an abundance of those as well.

RIDE ON: Martha Stewart on a horse.



Thursday, May 22, 2014

Hermès Spins Castoffs Into Quirky Line

Petit h Turns Discarded Materials Into Pricey Tchotchkes

Hermes is turning the company's waste stream--flawed silk scarves, broken glassware, discontinued-color leather and crocodile skinss--into whimsical new products, called "Petit H." 

It is an awfully strange recycling program. Here in this working-class Paris suburb, rejected leather pelts, broken bits of porcelain, decapitated crystal goblets and strips of silk scarves are being assembled into pricey objets d'art.
Each shard, strip and skin comes from an Hermès product that failed to make it through the company's famously persnickety design scrutiny. A felt-and-leather file folder came from the handles of a never-finished Birkin bag. A horse sculpture is covered in purple crocodile in a discontinued shade. Cockamamie candleholders are assembled from porcelain Fil d'Argent-pattern tea cups and coffee mugs that have been attached to crystal wine stems.
The concept is the brainchild of Pascale Mussard, a member of the often eccentric Hermès clan. A bit of a magpie with a distaste for waste, the 57-year-old collected flotsam and jetsam while working at her family's factories in various jobs, including co-creative director. She started Petit h, a collection of artful objects made from castoffs, four years ago.
At the factory in March, Ms. Mussard—great-great-great-granddaughter of company founder Thierry Hermès—grasped a soft brown-dyed mink skin produced for the company's ready-to-wear clothing line. "This didn't do well and they took it out of the collection," she said. "But it's beautiful."
Behind her hung dozens of crocodile skins and leathers in a rainbow of colors. A nearby storage room was filled with boxes of belt buckles, zippers, luggage tags, rope and other materials that would no longer be used as originally intended. A tub of lace, labeled "Gaultier," came from the first clothing collection that Jean Paul Gaultier designed for Hermès in 2003. Artists are set loose amid this waste stream to conceive of ideas for the small atelier to develop.
"This is a laboratory," Ms. Mussard said. Nearby, a half-dozen artisans clustered around a work table discussing how to assemble a new design for Petit h. (The "h" is pronounced "ahsh," the way the French say the letter.)
The designs can be kooky, but to anyone familiar with Hermès designs, they feel oddly familiar. For instance, a large orange bookcase, shaped like an angular squirrel from one angle, is made of steel encased in Togo calfskin once destined for Hermès leather goods. 
Petit h objects are as expensive as they are rare. Each item is either unique or produced in very limited quantities. The bookcase, titled "Origami Squirrel Sculpture," is priced at $112,400. An alligator and calfskin tablet case costs $8,250. A buffalo leather sailboat whose sail was once a "Petit Duc" silk scarf is $10,200. A calfskin elephant is $58,200, while a crystal bowl is a relative bargain at $1,925.
Unlike regular Hermès goods, Petit h items aren't widely distributed. They are sold regularly only at the Hermès store in Paris's St. Germain neighborhood, though there are traveling exhibits. In the second half of June, the Hermès store at South Coast Plaza in Southern California will display and sell Petit h objects. A few will be sold at as well.
The quirkiness of Petit h might seem jarring to people who think of Hermès as a maker of Kelly bags and pricey scarves. Hermès's profit margins are among the highest in luxury goods, and the company—whose customers tend to be among the world's wealthiest—has been more insulated against economic downturns than rivals such as LVMH. Its sales rose 7.8% last year to 3.75 billion euros ($5.13 billion). Though publicly traded, the company is controlled and operated by the family.
But the broader ethos of the company is apparent in its flagship stores. They are stuffed to the brim, like peculiar department stores, with beach towels, jewelry boxes, sports equipment, sculpture and even equestrian saddles and bridles, all finished with a penchant for artisanal perfection that borders on pathological. The Petit h boutique within the Paris flagship amplifies that reverence for craftsmanship with gallery-like displays of objets d'art.
Petit h "expresses the values most dear to Hermès," says Pierre-Alexis Dumas, Hermès's artistic director and Ms. Mussard's cousin. He adds that it remains "faithful to the artisan spirit of the house using exceptional discarded materials to create and reinvent beautiful objects full of fantasy which are unusual."
Petit h also allows Hermès to boast—as the company does on its website—"We don't throw anything away." (The company does have other re-use efforts. For instance, scarves with very tiny defects are shredded and used to stuff pillows.)
The recycling message reverberates today, but Ms. Mussard attributes the concept of frugality to her mother, who grew up during World War II. "We saved everything," she says. Her mother insisted the family finish yesterday's bread before starting on a fresh loaf. "By that time the (new) loaf was no longer fresh," says Ms. Mussard.
Years later, Ms. Mussard would wince as she witnessed defective Hermès products being destroyed so that they couldn't be sold as seconds or on the black market.
Ms. Mussard ferreted boxes of useful detritus out of Hermès factories for years. Then she met Gilles Jonemann, a jewelry designer working under his own name who held no reverence for Kelly bags or silk scarves. "I knew nothing about Hermès," Mr. Jonemann says, "except for things I didn't like."
When she asked him to work secretly for a year, without pay, he helped her squirrel more rejects out of Hermès factories in the trunk of his car. Together, they created 100 prototypes, many of them whimsical. With a broken teapot, Mr. Jonemann said, "We'll make a lamp." He added wings and hung it so the pot would seem to fly. They made a tall leather-covered camel and named it "Raul."
When she took the concept of selling Petit h goods to her family, Ms. Mussard read her written proposal verbatim because she was so nervous to stray from the paper. "I said, I have a project and you cannot say no. I know you all think I'm crazy," she says. The family agreed to test the concept, though she had to find legal means to re-use the previously copyrighted products. (Artists hired by Hermès own the copyright to their designs.) "The lawyers said, "Impossible!" she recalls. She met with artists to seek their permission.
These days, there is no more sneaking around. "Now," she says, "the factories save leftovers for me."
The artisans were selected by Ms. Mussard to join the Petit h atelier after proving themselves at Hermès's larger factories. One spent 20 years making prototypes for leather collections, another made suitcases, and yet another came from the repair department, where he learned to identify design flaws. There are silversmiths, and a seamstress who is learning leather work.
The objects created at Petit h must be made to Hermès's standards. When asked if a thin leather shelf was wrapped around cardboard, Ms. Mussard replied, "No, it's Hermès. We never use cardboard."

Christina Binkley, Wall Street Journal

Photo: Hermes. Pantin, France

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Second Time Tyler Shields Has Lied - He Uses Counterfeit Birkin's

It's too bad this guy is, as Dina Eastwood has referred to him, a "pathological liar."  Last time he made the news by destroying (setting fire to and slicing it with a chain saw) a red "Birkin" bag, but we later learned the bag was a fake. Now he's at it again, this time even going so far as to say "that it took him seven months to get a hold of the bag".  (Note to Tyler, I can get you one in Chinatown in seven minutes.)
This blue bag is clearly made of plastic or "faux croc" (as the lingo goes).
Here's the article as it appears in the Daily Mail:

Anything to get a good snap! Tyler Shields photographs an alligator and actress gnawing on $100,000 crocodile skin Hermes Birkin bag

He’s made a name for himself thanks to his controversial photo shoots, and Tyler Shields’ latest offering is up there with the most shocking.
This time, the celebrity photographer has fed a Hermes Birkin bag worth around $100,000 to an alive and deadly alligator.
Tyler snapped pictures of the reptile and actress Ana Mulvoy-Ten sinking their teeth into the hugely expensive and highly-coveted handbag, which poignantly was blue crocodile skin.
A photo shoot with bite: Tyler Shield has taken pictures of an alligator and actress Ana Mulvoy-Ten sinking their teeth into a Hermes Birkin bag
A photo shoot with bite: Tyler Shield has taken pictures of an alligator and actress Ana Mulvoy-Ten sinking their teeth into a Hermes Birkin bag

The 32-year-old told MailOnline that it took him seven months to get hold of the bag – the second he has destroyed in the name of art – due to a waiting list, but just four days to find an alligator.
The shocking images show Ana, 22, just separated from the animal with the tote, while lying on the ground in a black leotard and matching heels.
In some of the shots they are both gnawing on the handbag, while others see Ana feeding it to the alligator and in one he is left to get stuck into it himself.
Tyler, who most recently photographed Rumer Willis, said they were ‘inches from death at any moment’.
A hole lot of money: The celebrity photographer says the highly-coveted crocodile skin bag, worth $100,000, has been destroyed
A hole lot of money: The celebrity photographer says the highly-coveted crocodile skin bag, worth $100,000, has been destroyed

'Inches from death': It took a lot of time and patience to set up the shot, and bravery from the Nickelodeon alum, who stars in Tyler's new movie Outlaw
'Inches from death': It took a lot of time and patience to set up the shot, and bravery from the Nickelodeon alum, who stars in Tyler's new movie Outlaw

‘At one point during the shoot when Ana and the gator were both biting the bag it closed one of its eyes as if it was going to attack her, but did not,’ he revealed to MailOnline. ‘It was one of the most insane moments I have ever photographed.’
As for how they set up the shot in the first place, Tyler explained that it involved a lot of time and patience.
‘It was a game of inches,’ he said. ‘When we started the day it was feet, and slowly as the day progressed we got closer and closer to the gator until Ana was inches away.’
He added: ‘I have been wanting to do this for over a year and finally made it happen.’
Shock factor: Ana can be seen biting the bottom of the tote while dressed in a leotard, as the reptile chomps on the handle
Shock factor: Ana can be seen biting the bottom of the tote while dressed in a leotard, as the reptile chomps on the handle

Coming soon: The images are part of Tyler's latest art series Indulgence, which will be shown at the Guy Hepner gallery in Los Angeles and Imitate Modern gallery in London
Coming soon: The images are part of Tyler's latest art series Indulgence, which will be shown at the Guy Hepner gallery in Los Angeles and Imitate Modern gallery in London
Tyler took the pictures of the Nickelodeon alum and star of his new movie Outlaw, and their scaly friend in downtown Los Angeles, and reveals that the Birkin is now ‘full of gator teeth holes and is destroyed.’
He made headlines in May 2012 when he set another Hermes Birkin bag, this time in red crocodile skin, on fire and then sliced it with a chainsaw.
The alligator images are each an edition of three and part of Tyler’s latest art series Indulgence.
Indulgence will be shown at the Guy Hepner gallery in Los Angeles and Imitate Modern gallery in London.
Money to burn: Tyler made headlines in 2012 when he set another Hermes Birkin on fire, then sliced it with a chainsaw
Money to burn: Tyler made headlines in 2012 when he set another Hermes Birkin on fire, then sliced it with a chainsaw

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Luxury Boutique or Melrose Place Pied a Terre?

The Row's New L.A. Flagship Is Much More Ridiculous Than Your Typical Boutique

If you thought Bergdorf’s and Hermes on Madison were the height of luxury, The Row’s new L.A. flagship may change your mind. Gone are the days when Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen were known for teeny bopper hits like Passport to Paris and Holiday in the Sun, because the design duo’s flagship is just about the most chic, grown-up storefront I can possibly imagine. Complete with a Melrose Place address, we’d say the Olsen twins’ flagship is destined for great things.

1. The Flagship Is Less Like a Store and More Like an Estate

The midcentury modern-style real estate is all streamlined glass, sliding doors, and minimalist architecture.

2. Being a Hollywood Home, The Store Has a Glass Courtyard (Because Why Not?)

The Row’s new space has an airy, open feel thanks to a glass-enclosed courtyard which is visible from all corners of the store.

3. The Space Used to Be The Most Beautiful Hair Salon Imaginable…

John Freida and Sally Hershberger each set up shop in the home before it became property of The Row.

4. …As Well as One of Neil Diamond’s Haunts

As if two legendary hair stylist occupants weren’t enough, performer Neil Diamond owned the property as well.

4. The Store Has a Swimming Pool

Because shopping gets exhausting, and customers really need a way to unwind after their strenuous stroll around the boutique.

Image: WWD/Donato Sardella

5. The Store Houses MK and A’s Expanding Collection of Curios

A little know fact: Mary Kate and Ashley are collectors of art and various objets, which are on display for customers.

6. Each Dressing Room is Outfitted in Pink Limestone…Really

Perhaps I should rethink my own closet, because a carpeted, pink limestone dressing rooms sounds like perfection.

7. The “Library” of The Flagship is Devoted to Formal Wear (and Manolo Blahnik’s)

A library with a fireplace and armchairs should also have an unlimited supply of designer heels and evening gowns.

8. The Store is Split Into East and West “Galleries” Which Actually Resemble Art Galleries

The light-filled halls of the East and West Galleries include glass cases full of beautiful accessories and jewelry, interspersed with utilitarian sitting areas and racks of clothing.

9. Beware Entering The Row’s Flagship, Because You May Want to Move In

The Row’s new space may be one of the most beautiful designer storefronts to date, so I wouldn’t be surprised if one plucky customer showed up, suitcase in hand, and decided to stay for a mini vacation. Want to see more pics? WWD has a grand slideshow of all the amazingness that is The Row’s flagship store.


Luxury Brand Lovers Should Get Ready For Higher Prices!

Bad news for richest 1% as luxury firms hike prices

Luxury brands are mulling more inflation-busting price rises, in the face of strong foreign exchange headwinds and changing Chinese shopping habits.
Prices of luxury goods rose 4 percent annually between 2012 and 2014, and some could rise up to 6 percent this year, according to a note from Sanford Bernstein. The financial research firm based its research on its index tracking the prices of 19 bestselling products across greater China and Europe.
Ultraluxe brands such as Hermes and LVMH could hike prices between 4 and 6 percent this year, while Gucci, Prada and Burberry are likely to see 2-to-3 percent price inflation, driven by the strong euro and sterling and the changing habits of Chinese customers.
The single currency has risen around 6.2 percent against the U.S. dollar since last year, while sterling has gained 10.1 percent.
"Luxury goods companies have strong pricing power," Mario Ortelli, senior European luxury goods analyst at Sanford Bernstein, told CNBC in a phone interview. "Increasing prices is a way to protect your revenues from headwinds from foreign exchange (FX) and from changes in demand. It is a way to extend your margins."
Luxury companies that sell products from fashion to beverages have been warning about the negative impact of strong currencies. Last month, British designer Burberry said the strong sterling could impact its profits, while luxury eyewear maker Luxottica said profits were affected by currency volatility in the first quarter of 2014. This has pushed these designers to raise prices in local currencies.
The changing purchasing habits of Chinese consumers have also driven the luxury price rises. Over the past few years, Chinese consumers have increasingly travelled to Europe to buy goods, because of the savings they can make on tax.
Price rises have reflected this habit, with goods in Europe rising by more than those in mainland China. Luxury goods in Paris saw annual price rises of 4.2 percent between 2012 and year-to-date 2014, for example, while products in Shanghai rose by only 1.6 percent.
As a result of price hikes in Europe, the savings Chinese could gain from shopping abroad had fallen to 26 percent by March 2014, down from 35 percent in July 2012.
Mixed views on price rise gains
While higher prices will improve some brands' margins and revenue, analysts are unconvinced that every brand will reap the benefits.
Rahul Sharma, managing director of Neev Capital, warned that price hikes had already proved detrimental to certain upmarket brands.
"Every year it is fair to say that the sector has pricing power and it flexes it. The key thing I would say is that they have had really big price increases since 2009, and for some brands, like Mulberry, it has blown up," he told CNBC in a phone interview. "Not every brand can keep increasing prices. Some have the brand equity."
France's Hermes has been one of the most aggressive brands in hiking its prices, along with Louis Vuitton, known for its iconic "LV" print. They have been followed by Richemont and Gucci.
"The likes of high-end brands such as Hermes and Chanel have no price resistance and consumers lap it up. The jury is still out on brands like Gucci," said Sharma.
In terms of products, handbag prices rose 6 percent year-on-year between 2012 and year-to-date 2014. Jewellery prices rose 4.5 percent in the same period.
Experts said the rise in prices was as much about retaining brands' exclusivity as driving margins.
"We do see companies pushing prices up to reclaim that exclusivity," Anusha Couttigane, fashion consultant at Conlumino, told CNCB in a phone interview.


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

How To Sell A $20,000 Handbag to the Masses

A lot of has been written about the need for retailers to target a market of one and deliver a seamless customer experience. Effective digital marketing can help reach these goals. If Chico’s or the Gap, for instance, can send a personalized text message to a customer promoting a sale at the moment she’s most likely to act on it, the company has the opportunity to enhance customer experience and boost sales.
What about luxury fashion brand shoppers who might have their eye on a $20,000 handbag? Are they waiting for a digital coupon to arrive in their e-mail inbox? Sure, luxury fashion brands target very different customers, but digital marketing can still help boost customer satisfaction and the bottom line.

Boosting the signal
While traditional marketing like print ads and catalogs remain relevant, retailers of all stripes are relying more on websites, microsites, online ads, email promotions and, more recently, mobile and social platforms to reach consumers.
In fact, 85 percent of luxury brands expected to increase their digital marketing spend last year, and 72 percent planned to pump more into social media. Even more significant, nearly two-thirds predict that digital marketing will be their most important form of marketing—beating out print, television, and even loyalty programs—by next year.
But as more consumers receive more messages through more channels, the noise begins to drown out the signal. All retailers, especially luxury fashion brands, need to become smarter and more innovative about how they leverage digital marketing.
From signal to signifier
Luxury fashion consumers may well select Prada eyewear for its craftsmanship or Gucci shoes for their value for dollar or a Rolex watch for its quality construction. But they’re primarily interested in intangibles: image, lifestyle, exclusivity, luxury.
Luxury fashion brands are signifiers of ideas and experiences that transcend the products they represent. Their digital marketing strategies need to reflect those attributes. To that end, luxury fashion brands should take three key actions in developing and deploying their digital marketing:
Offer exclusivity. Part of the appeal of a luxury brand is the notion that it’s not available to just anyone. That same sense needs to pervade digital marketing. As an example, for several years now members-only sites like Gilt and Rue La La have traded in private promotions. Luxury fashion brands should take a page from this book and offer their own private microsites with exclusive benefits and offers.
Personalize. All retailers want their digital marketing to be personalized to the extent they’re not e-mailing a promotion about baby clothes to a childless 50-year-old man. But the premium on personalization for luxury fashion brands is infinitely higher.
Burberry, for instance, offers a bespoke service (see above video) that lets customers create a trench coat to their personal specifications. Last year it went a step further with its Smart Personalization program, which allowed customers to purchase made-to-order coats and accessories straight from a fashion-show catwalk, either in-store or direct from their mobile device.
Cultivate advocates. Social media offers opportunities not only to engage customers but also to have them act as your emissaries. Tiffany, for example, maintains a highly active Facebook presence where it shares images of celebrities bedecked in its diamonds. But it also gets customers involved through a free mobile app that lets Tiffany aficionados share their images and experiences. The jeweler deploys a similar strategy on its c-commerce Web site, allowing customers to share romantic photos and locations.
Of course, there isn’t a single right approach to digital marketing for luxury fashion brands. Each company will need to experiment to figure out what tactics most effectively reflect its brand values, engage its target customers, and extend its most valuable customer relationships.
New technologies can help tremendously. Big Data and advanced analytics enabled by in-memory computing can position luxury fashion brands to capture the outcomes of digital marketing campaigns in near real time. Combined with other data streams, those insights can help companies rapidly fine-tune their marketing efforts to better achieve the results they want.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Hermes: One Giant Hoax?

That's the skinny I'm hearing from some of the wealthy, long-time Hermès fans who are now turning their attention (and dollars) elsewhere.

Back in the 80's when the Birkin first hit the market it was readily available to anyone who had the $$$ to pay for one.  Then Hermès started playing their funny games with phony waiting lists and other sagas as to why the bag was "unavailable" (remember "leather shortages" ? tee hee) to even those with enough money to buy the entire Hermès corporation.  That all played out really well for Hermès and put them on the fast track to super-star brand.

Now it's 2014 and everyone wants the silly "H" belt (aka the Constance belt). And guess what? Hermès has suddenly started round-two of their silly waiting list, "unavailable" games. Now the belts are hidden in the backroom. (More waiting lists!) But don't kid yourself...there's dozens of belt in the back.

Well folks, the gig is up. Intelligent people and people with hard-earned money to spend will only put up with these silly (phony) French games for so long before they move on. It doesn't take a scientist to deduce that an Hermès label is far more valuable than most of the actual Hermès goods.

In certain circles the brand has become an embarrassment....hence the dozens upon dozens of Birkin's now showing up at all the major auction houses worldwide.

Monday, May 5, 2014

V Stiviano and Her Collection of (fake) Birkin Bags

I wonder if she knows that some of them (if not all) aren't authentic?

Friday, May 2, 2014

Gag Me With an Hermes Spoon

The following article sounds as if it was written by Hermès' own public relations firm or their slick-Willy advertising agent.

The Humanity of Hermès

How does a company that proudly eschews the usual means of generating desirability remain the most desirable luxury brand in the world?

An artisan prepares leather pieces to be made into a handbag | Source: Courtesy Hermès
PARIS, France — A Greek shepherd’s staff hangs by the door in the office of Pierre-Alexis Dumas. The artistic director of Hermès enjoys showing it to visitors and explaining how it is hand-crafted to the perfect height, so the shepherd for whom it was made can use it to rest (or even sleep!) while standing, simply by propping its multi-purpose handle under an armpit.

Dumas, who is half-Greek and knew the staff ’s maker, vividly explains how it was created from a single branch, patiently trimmed until it grew sufficiently tall and straight, then steam-bent at one end to get the curvature of the handle just right.
This beautifully encapsulates Dumas’ ideas on design, craftsmanship and life. The staff’s rudimentary, hand-made elegance is elevated by its thought-out functionality, a combination that takes on an even deeper sense of humanness from its precise connection to a place and a person that Dumas lovingly relates.
And while he can sometimes sound more like a scholar of Eastern philosophy than a creative director, the 47-year-old’s thoughtful ruminations about what makes his family business not only tick but thrive are the opposite of grandiloquent.
The cane once belonged to Dumas’ father, Jean-Louis Dumas, who, over the course of his 30-year tenure, turned Hermès into the global enterprise it is today.

In 2013, the group’s consolidated revenue totalled €3.75 billion (about $5.2 billion), a 13 percent increase over 2012, at constant exchange rates, with an operating margin of 32.4 percent, the highest ever recorded in the company’s history. And while major luxury rivals like Louis Vuitton and Gucci have experienced slowing growth in the all-important Chinese market, Hermès’ sales in China continued to grow by double-digit percentage points.
No wonder LVMH has shown an interest in Hermès, quietly building a stake of about 17 percent in the company between 2002 and 2010, leading to a fractious and drawn out legal dispute between the conglomerate and Hermès. LVMH now retains a 23 percent stake in Hermès, but was fined €8 million (about $11 million) last year for violating public disclosure requirements. A separate criminal investigation is under way.
But over at the Faubourg, as everyone at Hermès refers to the company’s headquarters, people seem to go about their work quietly, and happily. The mood is calm and zen-like — but also focused and business-like.
“We belong neither to the world of luxury nor to the world of fashion,” Dumas tells BoF in his light-filled office in the heart of the Faubourg. “This is a family house that goes back six generations. We did not invent our craft, we are the recipient of an age-old tradition, mixed with something which is perhaps proper to my family — a desire for excellence — and maybe something a little bit obsessive and mad about detail.”
Talking to Dumas and other leading figures at Hermès, one realises that everything you think you know about this venerable brand — from the company’s fabled history to its near-fanatical dedication to craftsmanship — is, at once, more layered and less mysterious when seen from the inside.
Take creativity, for instance, the lifeblood of any company in the business of designing and selling beautiful things.
“What Hermès is always searching for is this ideal of beauty, of perfect shape. The right thing, the good thing, the beautiful thing,” says Pierre Hardy, creative director of the brand’s footwear and fine jewellery divisions. “It’s something that people are afraid to talk about. Nobody talks about the beauty of something anymore, but when people see it they recognise it.”
Dumas, likewise, channels his own worldview to illuminate the brand’s unique attitude towards beauty. “I believe anyone can reach eternity in an instant. When I look at our collections, I am always looking for that miraculous moment when I am surprised and feel such a strong emotion that that moment is like pure gold and stops time as we know it,” he says. “That to me is the experience of beauty or grace, a feeling of absolute timelessness, but you can also experience it through shape or colour.”
It’s sincere convictions such as these that explain the zealous quest for perfection espoused by the craftsmen, designers and illustrators who work for Hermès. “Every Hermès object has to be perfectly done and in the best material and in the best way, that’s a matter-of-fact for us, a basic standard. If it’s saddle, it has to be the perfect saddle, and the same goes for every other category,” explains Hardy.
But high-minded ideals aside, even Dumas acknowledges that the goal of so much creative zeal is the necessity, at the end of the day, to produce things that people want to buy. “The delicacy of a fabric, the touch of soft leather, the scent of a fragrance. I want people to come into a Hermès store and smile and think ‘I want that, I need to have that, because I like it.’”
Right away, however, almost as if he were constitutionally obliged to imbue what might have been a pragmatic statement with a touch of philosophy, he adds: “I want our customers to indulge in a moment of pure lightness, because it is in those moments of dream where you have insights into life, and into the future.”
Indeed, the “pure lightness” and reverie that Dumas likes to evoke are at the very heart of the Hermès universe. It was what first struck Christophe Lemaire, Hermès’ artistic director of women’s ready-to-wear, long before the brand became his employer (he succeeded Jean-Paul Gaultier in 2011).
“I remember well when I was much younger, I used to go for lunch near the Madeleine [church] and I was fascinated by Hermès’ windows, by their excellence and quality, but also by their whimsy and generosity. There was always something quite charming, something not completely controlled; the poetry of the windows really touched me, the colours and richness of textures. I always thought, ‘what a beautiful house,’” recalls Lemaire.
According to Dumas, the brand’s window displays are a portal into the culture of Hermès. “I would say that the way we communicate at Hermès today can find its root in the art we developed of making our windows,” he says. “The only purpose of Hermès’ windows [has been] to please people.”
This ethos is reflected in all of the ways Hermès relates with the public, from its events — charmingly old-fashioned affairs devoid of strained efforts to appear sexy or cool — to the near-absence of celebrities in the brand’s advertising.
Indeed, Dumas doesn’t hide his distaste for the prevalent PR and marketing tactics of our times. “One thing I deeply dislike is a form of cynicism and trying to manipulate people’s minds. Everything we do [at Hermès], we do it because we believe in it — it has to be meaningful and relate to what we are trying to express.”
Lemaire singles out the relative spontaneity with which things are done at Hermès as one of its main assets, suggesting that the playfulness customers often perceive in the brand’s offering is in direct measure to the company’s inner workings, and only, therefore, so effective.
“Everybody works very hard at Hermès, but in a very lively way. I had never experienced that in my previous [work] experiences,” says the designer. “Sometimes, [it’s] a little bit naive. The quality, the product, and the creativity always come first, before any marketing — that is very much rooted in the Hermès working culture. I think that’s what makes the difference. When you try hard to please and seduce, and you anticipate what people expect from you, it doesn’t work. It’s better to know who we are, be ourselves and believe in our own values, and they can be universal, if they’re true.”
Lemaire attributes the enormous goodwill the brand enjoys among its customers to the company’s honest and lighthearted stance. “At times it seems like the fashion and luxury world has become a little bit like a war [zone]. And Hermès doesn’t want to play that game. At Hermès, we are very confident in what we stand for and in the excellence of our work. And basically the client understands that, which is the main point at the end of the day.”
But as the world has changed, so has Hermès. Today’s company is a far cry from its origins as a small enterprise of workshops piled on top of each other making dreams come true for a mostly French clientele. Hermès is now a large, global, publicly traded company. So, how does it keep the creativity that feeds its success flowing? By reinventing itself, again and again.
Every year, Dumas gives his creative teams a theme, a leitmotif, to inspire and challenge creation across divisions, and to help reconfigure the house’s codes in a fresh way. For 2014, Hermès’ creative theme happens to be ‘Metamorphosis.’ As Dumas put it, “[It’s about] the ability to reinvent ourselves season after season. It is through constant change that we actually remain the same in spirit and are able to maintain our culture.”
While much is made about the Hermès’ unchanging values —its dedication to creativity, craftsmanship, and quality — over its 177-year history, an unusual commitment to reinvention and change has played an equally important role in maintaining the brand’s currency.
Specifically, while craftsmanship and excellence have remained the house’s constant, fiercely upheld values, it’s the way their application has evolved and been repurposed that has propelled Hermès to the pinnacle of the global luxury market. Without the farsighted decision, generations ago, to transfer its core expertise into new areas in order to ensure its future, Hermès would have never grown from a saddlery into a thriving multinational luxury goods enterprise.
A craftsman piecing together a leather handbag | Source: Courtesy Hermès
A craftsman piecing together a leather handbag | Source: Courtesy Hermès
It was Pierre-Alexis’ great-grandfather Emile who, in the 1920s, in order to stay in business, decided to apply harness- and saddle- making techniques to other fields — namely, the creation of luggage and bags. Hence the Kelly bag’s famous saddle-stitch. The same adaptability and gift for reinvention characterises Hermès today.
While everyone loves to talk about the importance of craftsmanship at Hermès, Dumas himself is quick to emphasise that artisanal excellence in and of itself means little if it isn’t applied in a timely and business-savvy way. “Craft can only survive if it finds a natural application and if it finds a market. What a craft produces has to be relevant to the world we live in today,” he says. “If craft does not reinvent itself, it dies. If we were still making harnesses, Hermès would not exist anymore.”
“That is why we constantly re-design [things] and try find new applications and new ideas all the time — because that’s what keeps craft alive. It’s production. It’s the ability to make objects that will sell.”
But it’s impossible to assess the culture of Hermès without considering what is perhaps its most important element: the people who make up the organisation. In a day and age where people change jobs with increasing frequency, at Hermès it’s not unusual to meet employees who have worked with the company for decades. Véronique Nichanian, for instance, artistic director for Hermès’ menswear collections, joined the company in 1988. And the same woman — Leila Menchari, an institution unto herself — has been doing the Faubourg flagship’s famous window displays for more than 35 years.
“Everyone always talks about the beauty of the craftsmanship, about the Kelly bags, the excellence of quality, and so on, and obviously all this is amazing. But what I think is most distinctive of Hermès is its work culture. The importance of human relationships for Hermès is something that is difficult to explain unless you have experienced it,” says Lemaire.
Undoubtedly, being a family-run business has shaped the culture of Hermès more than anything else. But crucially, the idea of family extends beyond the immediate Hermès clan. As Lemaire pointed out, “It’s not a pyramidal organisation like other luxury brands — it’s more like a family, it’s all very spontaneous, and sometimes can even appear a bit messy.”
And yet, this is “an old, young house,” as Dumas puts it. The most striking thing about a visit to the company’s leather factory in the Saint Antoine neighbourhood of East Paris is the number of young craftspeople working and training on the brand’s coveted bags. Far from the grouchy guard of old white men and women one might expect, here one encounters a population that is a surprisingly harmonious cross-section of French society today.
From a pierced and tattooed girl with a shaved head, to black, white, Asian, Muslim, old, young, gay and straight artisans, at Saint Antoine a seemingly happy mix of people with diverse backgrounds go about their craft with the same serene concentration one encounters among the employees at the Faubourg.
It was Jean-Louis Dumas who reinvented the notion of craftsmanship to make it the symbolic and practical backbone of a contemporary luxury goods company with an international distribution network. “My father had a double vision. [Along with international expansion, he] introduced a notion of contemporary craftsmanship. He asked himself, ‘What is the space of the craftsman in a fast-changing modern world?’ and saw it as his responsibility to create a truly modern manufactory, where a craftsman would be treated with respect in order to continue to be able to do the best work with his hands.”
This guiding ethos, to provide a workplace where artisans are given the space and respect to work under conditions that are as close to ideal as possible, thus enabling them to identify with their profession and produce at an according level of quality and efficiency, is put into practice at the 31 manufacturing facilities Hermès operates across France. (There are 37 “manufactures” worldwide.)
No more than 200 people — a cap intended to maintain a human scale and foster a sense of community — work at any of these centres, often at ergonomically designed workstations in daylight-flooded, wood-and-concrete facilities that wouldn’t look out of place in a magazine for progressive architecture.
But can good work conditions alone account for why people stay at Hermès for so long? Maybe not. Perhaps, in today’s world, it takes more. Indeed, Pierre-Alexis Dumas inherited his father’s sense of responsibility, but he has expanded that vision with his own contemporary, idealistic imprimatur.
For the socially-conscious man currently at the creative helm of Hermès, the entire design process must be accountable, while offering employees an opportunity to make a difference. “If there’s one thing I have learnt, it’s that you have to think hard about what you do; at Hermès, we think about the shapes and objects we create — it’s a responsibility. You have to think about the consequences, how what you make will affect people’s lives.”
Consequently, Dumas thinks the company’s level of employee satisfaction has to do with the larger sense of purpose that Hermès provides. “I think people enjoy working for Hermès because they feel that what they do is meaningful. If you have the feeling that what you do somehow generates something positive, today, that’s what makes you want to stick to the company you work for. And I try to reinforce that feeling of working for a company that stands up for certain humanist values that are relevant.”
“I think Hermès objects are desirable because they reconnect people to their humanity,” says Dumas. “[Our customer] feels the presence of the person who crafted the object, while at the same time the object brings him back to his own sensitivity, because it gives him pleasure through his senses.”
“I see Hermès as an oasis. I see us as the recipients of a very important culture which is related to the human hand and a sense of respect for each other,” reflects the great-great-great grandson of Thierry Hermès, who founded the company in 1837.
“A company that makes only money is quite poor, that’s for sure.”

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Birkin Police Report - (she probably had it authenticated on the Purse Forum)

Police Calls


Fraud reports:
• A resident of Greenoaks Drive paid $10,150 over eBay for what turned out to be a fake Hermes Birkin blue Togo purse. Since the eBay posting originated in Plano, Texas, the police department there has taken the case. April 23.


Blog Archive


NBC-TV/Today Show
Summer Reading Round-Up

Bringing Home the Birkin
top 10 summer reads!




May 18, 2008
Bag Man