Customers — some of whom have paid about $20,000 or more for the exclusive bags — have been told by staff at the luxury goods store that there was a problem with a “badly tanned” batch of leather from a supplier to Hermès.
They claim the tanning process somehow makes the leather smell like marijuana whenever it heats up in warm temperatures, such as in direct sunlight or in a hot car.
A source tells us:
‘“Owners are returning the Hermès bags back to boutiques across the US, including the Madison Avenue store, saying they smell of skunk. The bags are being sent back to Paris as nobody knows quite how to deal with this embarrassing situation.”Apparently, this is a worldwide problem as Hermès bags are distributed to boutiques in limited quantities and are often on back or special order.
While the problem does not affect all Hermès leather products, we are told this does affect multiple bags in varying colors, ranging in designs such as the Birkin, the Kelly and the Elan clutch, which retail from $5,000 to more than $20,000, all of which had been purchased in 2013 and 2014. It is not believed the problem affects the Hermès crocodile skin bags, which can sell for more than $60,000. Customers are reporting that Hermès staff are saying the bags have to go back to Paris, have the bad-smelling leather panels removed and the entire bag rebuilt.
While a New York-based Hermès rep didn’t respond to requests for comment, the so-called “skunk stinky syndrome” has become a subject of discussion on Web forums devoted to luxury goods.
One Kelly bag owner posted on PurseBlog:
‘“After riding in the car with her for about 30 minutes, I smelled what I thought was a dead skunk. Another 30 minutes later I could still smell the dead skunk, and I thought it was odd, but never imagined it could be my bag. I keep (it) in an armoire . . . When I opened the cabinet door this morning, the smell hit me, and I immediately knew it was the bag.”