Monday, June 30, 2014

We can agree that by any measure of good, an Hermès bag is not good

It’s Never Been A Better Time To Create A Luxury Startup

As I’m based in Paris and work in the tech ecosystem, there is a lot of chatter about luxury brands and their future. Paris is still the city of outrageously beautiful goods and clothes from powerful brands. Luxury shops are still crowded with countless of tourists. Yet, when I talk with people around me, it has become much more trendy to find a new up and coming brand before anyone else that manufactures quality products — maybe it’s a sign that the hipster culture is becoming mainstream, maybe not. But it is certainly a sign that there is an opportunity for new luxury startups.
For example, Dymant is a French startup that works with luxury craftsmen to design, produce and sell limited edition objects to a demanding clientele. Late last year, its co-founder and CEO David Alexandre Klingbeil asked me a hypothetical question — “what do you give your wife when she already has three Hermès handbags?”
I still don’t have a good answer to this question, but I know for sure that buying a handbag that is clearly identified with its brand feels tacky to me — I don’t want to give a bag as a present that has the Louis Vuitton initials all over it.
"We can agree that by any measure of good, an Hermès bag is not good"
— Seth Godin
Knowing all this, I believe there are opportunities for luxury startups. These days, it has never been easier to start these startups. They can opt for a very lean manufacturing process to scale much more quickly than a traditional company who manufactures everything. They don’t need a big marketing team. For example, Everlane has managed to attract hundreds of thousands of customers in the U.S. in only a few years.
Everlane clothes and accessories are reasonably priced, but more importantly, they don’t scream Everlane. That’s probably why I find them much more attractive than traditional luxury goods.
I believe that, at a larger scale, that the authority of well-established brands is fading away — and it is especially true for brands who sell high-end products.
“If you look at Condé Nast, 10 years ago they were at the center of many conversations among the elite. Many people read The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Vogue, Gourmet and more,” well-known marketing expert Seth Godin told me in a phone interview ahead of the Hackers on the Runway conference. “Today they could disappear and nobody would miss them. It only took a decade.”
But well-established luxury brands don’t really need to improve their products, it’s all about marketing. ” There is no question that, in a blind test, luxury goods are overpriced. That’s the definition of luxury goods. They are not better in terms of measurable engineering specs. They are better because they are scarce,” Godin said.
“We can agree that by any measure of good, an Hermès bag is not good. What is it then? It’s a badge, a way to say I’m in this group, I’m not in that group. The obvious option to me for existing brands is to take the tribal power they always had and amplify that,” he said.
But many will fail. Brands, like media companies or even tech startups, need to find an audience of passionate buyers, readers and users to stay relevant. These people will be the ambassadors of the brand. For example, you buy a Harley Davidson to be like other Harley Davidson owners.
Startups can take advantage of that and build their own tribes around their products. They can compete in no time against luxury giants like LVMH thanks to the Internet and ecommerce.
And we can even see that some startups are already doing this. Dymant’s branding has these intrinsic community values. Klingbeil compares Dymant’s luxury objects to a form of patrician luxury. Patricians held political power in ancient Rome. “They like elegant low-key luxury, the kind of luxury that shows that you have nothing to prove.”
In other words, Dymant is recreating a tribe like old luxury brands. And he doesn’t need a huge advertising budget to do so. That’s why it’s never been a better time to create a luxury startup.


Sunday, June 15, 2014

$10,000 Reward Offered for Information in Handbag Heist

There has been another high dollar handbag heist in West University Place. This time someone stole $125,000 worth of Hermes and Chanel bags.

The burglary happened Thursday night in the 2800 block of Tangley. No one was home when someone broke in through a second story window. They bypassed jewelry and other expensive items and went straight for the handbags. Among those stolen are Hermes Birkin bags.

Within 3 minutes of the alarm going off, West Univeristy police were there, but the thieves were already gone.

This is the second handbag theft in West University in just 6 months. In December, someone stole about $200,000 worth of Hermes bags from a home on Wroxton. Police were able to recover them and arrested Edward Bryant. Investigators believe he and another man came from Baltimore just to steal the bags. They are now looking into whether the two burglaries are connected.

In both break-ins, police believe the crooks targeted the victims based on their postings on social media. They encourage people to disable locator services when taking photographs and uploading them.

In the meantime, Crime Stoppers is offering an increased reward of $10,000 for information leading an arrest.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

High-End Hermès Handbags at Center of Suit Against Christie’s

Locked behind glass, illuminated like a jewel, lies an Hermès Birkin — totem of wealth, bestower of status, and one seriously expensive handbag.
This particular specimen is a coveted Hermès White Himalayan Birkin, dyed in brown and beige crocodile. Gently, if ever, used, it is offered at $115,000.
Wait — used?
That word is never spoken, not here inside the hushed Midtown Manhattan showroom of Heritage Auctions. The preferred term is “rare” or “vintage” — in this case, applied to a handbag made all the way back in 2013.
No one, it is said, knows more about the buying and selling of pre-owned Hermès bags than Matthew Rubinger, Heritage’s Birkin whisperer. But now Mr. Rubinger, 26, has left for another more famous auction house — Christie’s International — and the battle of the Birkins has begun.
Heritage on Friday filed a lawsuit against Christie’s, claiming Mr. Rubinger breached his contract and stole trade secrets. Christie’s, whose auctions tend to run more to Picasso than purses, is expanding its push into high-end accessories, Heritage’s sweet spot. Heritage is seeking a Birkinesque $60 million in damages and lost profits from Christie’s, Mr. Rubinger and two other former employees.
This Hermès 10-inch White Nile Crocodile Himalayan Birkin handbag is selling for $115,000 at Heritage Auctions in Manhattan. Credit Nancy Borowick for The New York Times
A spokeswoman for Christie’s said, “We have reviewed the complaint and find it to be wholly without merit. We are prepared to vigorously defend these claims and Christie’s decision to expand our existing handbag department.” Mr. Rubinger did not respond to an email.
The brouhaha partly reflects how the world’s wealthy are spending their money. But it also underscores how Christie’s and its traditional rival, Sotheby’s, are coming under pressure. While art prices keep rising, competition among auction houses has squeezed commissions. Daniel S. Loeb, a hedge fund manager who owns 9.6 percent of Sotheby’s, got a seat on the company’s board after attacking Sotheby’s executives for, among other things, giving up profit.
For Heritage, the flourishing designer handbag market has produced record sales and big profits. At a Heritage auction in late 2011, a brilliant red crocodile Hermès Birkin, with 18-karat white-gold and diamond-encrusted hardware, sold for a record $203,000. Last December, a one-of-a-kind Hermès Kelly bag, in porosus crocodile and black Togo leather, with geranium-colored feet, went for $125,000.
Hermès International has ensured demand by limiting production at its atelier in the Pantin suburb northeast of Paris. There, workers take fine cuts of leather and exotic skins and transform them with meticulous detail, buffing the hides with an agate stone. The whispered wait lists — Who gets on? Is it really three years? — add to the mystique.
Heritage executives say that while Hermès frowns on reselling its handbags, Hermès has directed buyers to Heritage’s door.
“Our buyers tend to seek immediate gratification,” said Kathleen Guzman, a managing director of Heritage’s offices in New York. The high-end handbags are sought by collectors and even investors, say Heritage executives, who estimate the average buyer has a net worth of $12 million.
“If you buy one Hermès bag for $20,000, depending on the popularity, the skin, the color, the size, you can resell it down the road for an average of 60 percent to 150 percent of what you paid for it,” Gregory Rohan, the president of Heritage, said in a phone interview Thursday from Paris.
Four years ago, the luxury accessories category did not even exist. Then Mr. Rohan met Mr. Rubinger, a recent graduate of Vanderbilt University. In high school, Mr. Rubinger started buying and reselling inexpensive purses. Later, he moved into designer bags for sale on eBay, with his bedroom as operations center.
“To make more, to scale what I was doing, I had to move up in price point,” Mr. Rubinger recalled in an interview this spring at Heritage’s offices in New York.
At the end of his first year at Vanderbilt, Mr. Rubinger became a summer intern at the online resale hub DropShop, the precursor to the retail website Portero, which was then based in Armonk, N.Y, a suburb north of Manhattan, and near Mr. Rubinger’s childhood home in Chappaqua.
He stayed more than a year and began its luxury category, which grew to be the company’s second-strongest seller, after timepieces.
In 2010, a mutual friend introduced Mr. Rubinger to Mr. Rohan. They met at the Carlyle Hotel on the Upper East Side.
“He started to tell me what he was doing and I thought, ‘Gosh, this is a perfect complement to what we already have,’ ” Mr. Rohan said.
Put in charge of Heritage’s luxury accessories business, Mr. Rubinger was given the star treatment. In its lawsuit, Heritage says it invested in his identity, seeking to brand him as a “star”; provided him with training and introduction to sources in Hong Kong and Japan; and shared all of Heritage’s corporate plans for expansion and branding, even beyond luxury accessories.
With an annual growth rate of more than 50 percent, the luxury accessories category was seen within Heritage as especially promising. So much so that Mr. Rohan made the area his primary focus and had his New York office divided so that he and Mr. Rubinger could be closer to collaborate, the lawsuit states.
When asked if he was grooming Mr. Rubinger to take a bigger role, or if he viewed him as a protégé, Mr. Rohan, grew quiet.
“I thought he was a close, personal friend. We socialized. We had lunch and dinners together frequently. We collaborated on everything,” said Mr. Rohan, 52. “Honestly, my wife and I don’t have children, and I thought of him as a son.”
At 8:45 a.m. on Monday, May 19, Mr. Rohan answered his phone at his home in Dallas. On the other end was Mr. Rubinger, saying he had left to take a job at Christie’s. Within the next hour, two other high-level associates announced that they, too, were leaving.
Without warning, Heritage’s entire luxury accessories team had walked out the door.
But in its suit, Heritage claims Mr. Rubinger, in the week before he left, sought and received permission for one of the associates who departed with him to attend an executive meeting and gain access to confidential strategic plans.
“While certainly other auction companies, including Christie’s, have held estate sales that might have a Kelly bag in it or had an online auction that sold a modest amount of handbags, we elevated the collection of handbags to a place nobody had done it before,” Mr. Rohan said. “We created a dynamic worldwide market that everyone would like to own.”

Friday, June 13, 2014

IMF Chief Christine Lagarde with Birkin Bag at Bilderberg

Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund, totes an Hermes Birkin bag at the 2014 Bilderberg conference in Copenhagen. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Hermes to Open Petit h Pop-Up Shop in Los Angeles

Hermès' Petit H Pop-Up Shop of Recycled Treasures Heads to L.A.

Photo: Courtesy of Hermès

To sit and listen to Pascale Mussard—a sixth-generation member of the Hermès family—is to be held rapt by tales from a dreamlike adolescence: Early summers spent sailing toy boats in Cannes, a journey to rural Brazil marked by the unexpected discovery of hundreds of seahorses. It’s enough to make you want to grab your loved ones and move to France, or at least straight out into the haze of early summer, chic accessories in tow. So it’s no wonder then that Mussard is the progenitor of Petit H, a project that makes use of her family’s vast and textured history.

The four-year-old Petit H is what Mussard calls her “laboratory,” though it’s less Dr. Frankenstein and more “The Island of Lost Toys” meets the old adage of "Waste Not, Want Not." Petit H collects the unused scraps and byproducts from Hermès’ other salons—hides and exotic skins in discontinued colorations, broken glassware and flawed porcelain, silks from discarded scarves—and employs local artists and craftsmen to create exquisite bibelots. Often, these seem to be born straight from Mussard’s memories: There’s a selection of petit bateaus with sails cut of vivid silk, and those unexpected seahorses have a turn as delicate leather ornaments, joining winged-teapot table lamps, alligator-paneled toy cars, painstakingly hand-painted rocking horses, and box-calf-covered bookcases. All impart the expert care that Hermès is renowned for.

“I was speaking with Jean de Loisy—he’s the head of the Palais de Tokyo in Paris—and he told me something very interesting,” reflects Mussard. “He said that Marcel Duchamp changed the way we think of art, and everyone thinks it’s because of the urinoir. But actually, it was an earlier work that started the conversation—it was a bilboquet.” That it was Duchamp’s children’s game—a cup-and-ball affixed by a simple string, the sort of instrument that trains hand-eye coordination—that began to change the course of art history is something Mussard thinks of often. “It’s not necessarily whatever it is you’re seeing,” she says, “It’s how you’re seeing it. It’s about what you’re trying to convey, and that can be done with something as simple as a toy.” In this case, a toy rendered exsquisitely in Hermès silk and calfskin.

On June 13, her newest lineup (replete with more than 4,000 such wares) will touch down at Los Angeles’ South Coast Plaza. But will they arrive on a Petit H’s enameled airplane? “I’d like to send a full-size boat that we’ve been working on, but . . . shipping . . .” quips Mussard.

The latest edition of Petit H will be available at Hermès’ South Coast Plaza store at 3333 Bristol Street Suite 1424, Costa Mesa, from June 13 until June 29. It will also be available online.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Kanye West Gives Kim Kardashian Nude Portrait of Herself for Wedding

Kanye West’s taste in art can now officially be classified as questionable.
The “Bound 2” rapper has spent years touting himself as a lover of fashion and the arts, even going as far as to call himself a “creative genius,” but the nearly naked portrait he reportedly presented bride Kim Kardashian with as a wedding gift says otherwise.
The Mirror reports that the painting was done by London street artist Bambi, who The Huffington Post claims has been called “the female Banksy,” and is supposed to be a Louboutin-clad Kardashian, in a thong, looking back at her assets. Doesn’t that scream romance?
“It was a recent commission and Bambi has turned it around in three weeks,” Bambi’s agent and manager Leonard Villa told the Mirror. “The request came through an agent and the fee is in five figures.”
Add the portrait to the list of naked “art” West has given Kardashian (see the custom Hermès Birkin bag he gave her for Christmas below). 

Kardashian and West were wed on May 24 in Florence, Italy and spent their honeymoon in Ireland and Prague before returning to Los Angeles June 2.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Hermes doesn't want "rival" LVMH as main outside shareholder

(Reuters) - French luxury goods maker Hermes voiced its frustration at having arch-rival LVMH as its biggest external shareholder at its annual general meeting on Tuesday and once more called on the group to sell its stake.
LVMH, the world's biggest luxury group, which owns 23 percent of Hermes, was fined 8 million euros by the French market watchdog AMF last year for failing to properly disclose its building of a stake before 2010.
Hermes, the 177-year-old maker of Birkin and Kelly handbags which is more than 70 percent family-owned, has been vehemently protesting the presence of LVMH in its shareholder capital ever since it learned of its surprise entry in 2010.
"We do not want shareholders that are rivals," Hermes Chief Executive Axel Dumas told the company's annual shareholder meeting on Tuesday. "We want to preserve our independence."
After the meeting, Dumas told Reuters he was "not aware" whether LVMH would be willing to sell down its stake.
In an interview with Le Figaro newspaper published on Tuesday, Dumas said: "LVMH is totally free to sell its shares and to be honest, would be welcome to do so."
LVMH, owner of Louis Vuitton, Dior and Celine fashion brands, has repeatedly said it was "satisfied" being Hermes' shareholder and backed its management's strategy.
"But satisfied does not mean friendly," Dumas told Le Figaro. And they (LVMH) are not particularly friendly with our management."
Separately, Dumas said Hermes was considering opening a shop in South Africa in the medium term, preferably in Johannesburg. He said he expected sales in Japan, one of the company's biggest markets where sales rose 6.5 percent at constant exchange rates in 2013, would be similar this year.
Hermes shares - which have lost nearly 2 percent since Jan 1 after climbing nearly 17 percent in 2013 - were barely changed in midday trading at 259.2 euros, valuing the company at 27.4 billion euros.
That makes Hermes the third largest luxury group by market capitalisation behind LVMH and Richemont.

VIDEO: Bitch, That Is NOT A Birkin...

VIDEO: Bitch, That Is NOT A Birkin...

It's ALWAYS About the Birkin Bag!

Model can’t avoid $300,000 lawsuit over rental damage

Model can’t avoid $300,000 lawsuit over rental damage

A Victoria’s Secret model can’t catwalk away from a $300,000 Manhattan lawsuit, a judge has ruled.
Model Julie Ordon tried to dodge the suit filed by her former landlord accusing her and her husband of trashing their $32,000-a-month Soho rental.
Ordon — also a Sports Illustrated swimsuit and Playboy model — had argued she wasn’t technically responsible for the alleged $150,000 in damage because only the name of her husband appeared on the lease.
The model-turned-mom is accused of allowing her dog to soil her landlord’s $18,000 Nepalese hand-loomed rug and gluing child-safety devices to his expensive, antique wooden furniture.
Her hubby — sugar heir and fledgling movie producer David Mimran — was believed to have been busy with his career in California at the time.
Landlord Richard Sabella insisted in his suit that the Swiss-born stunner kept an extensive wardrobe in the tony, fourth-floor condo at 500 Greenwich St., proving she lived there when the damage occurred — and the judge sided with him in a recent ruling.
“We’re very pleased with the decision. We got exactly what we wanted,’’ Sabella’s lawyer, Joshua Price, told The Post.
Sabella said in court papers that in addition to the other damage, the family stained the luxury pad’s maple-wood flooring and wrecked his $45,000 Art Deco-style table, which took six months to fix.
“These damages can only be described as intentional destruction of property under the circumstances,” Sabella huffed in his suit.
Ordon, 29, had griped to The Post back in September that her Hermès Birkin handbags and Louis Vuitton luggage were damaged in a flood at the unit.
But she then claimed in court in March that she wasn’t technically living there. Her lawyer, Louis Biancone, said he believes the case will ultimately be thrown out.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Hermes Kelly Bag: $9,000.

Leather that puckers along the seam: Free


NBC-TV/Today Show
Summer Reading Round-Up

Bringing Home the Birkin
top 10 summer reads!




May 18, 2008
Bag Man