12 min read
CYL - Apr 2, 2024

Hermès Birkin Lawsuit: Breaking down Exclusive Insights

Few brands command the reverence and prestige associated with Hermès. Renowned for its timeless craftsmanship and iconic designs, the French luxury brand has long been synonymous with exclusivity and sophistication.


Central to its iconic status is the Birkin handbag, a symbol of opulence and exclusivity coveted by fashion connoisseurs worldwide. It holds immense significance for several reasons, primarily due to its association with rarefied wealth and luxury.


Originally conceived as a practical yet stylish accessory, the Birkin has transcended its utilitarian roots to become a symbol of status and prestige in the world of fashion.  However, recent developments surrounding a lawsuit in California have thrust Hermès into the spotlight, raising questions and concerns within the industry.


The lawsuit contends that Hermès operates as a monopoly, alleging that its method of Birkin sales constitutes a violation of antitrust law.


Key Media Reporting on the Lawsuit


Top Media behind the Hermes Birkin Lawsuit - Image - Social Listening


It's "Just a Bag." Why the Hassle?

The Birkin bag is a luxury item with an exorbitant price range. Retail prices start at $10,000, but at auctions, prices can go up to a staggering $450,000. Getting a Birkin bag directly from Hermès can be very challenging, and it's a process known as "The Hermès Game." It often requires either having celebrity status or a substantial spending history with the brand. Due to this exclusivity, the Birkin bag has become a symbol of luxury and prestige. 


Additionally, Hermès deliberately restricts the quantity of Birkin bags produced each year, further amplifying their scarcity and allure. The unparalleled demand for Birkin bags is reflected in their resounding success in the luxury market, as evidenced by a significant 38% sales spike in 2020.

One notable example of the Birkin's astronomical value is the sale of a crocodile-skin version for nearly $390,000 at Christie's auction house in November 2021. This transaction marked the second-highest price ever paid for a handbag at auction, further cementing the Birkin's status as an iconic and unparalleled symbol of luxury and wealth.

What Are People Saying?


Evolution of mentions around Hermes Birkin Lawsuit - Image - Social Listening

The trend of mentions during the initial stages of the lawsuit


The Hermès controversy surrounding the Californian Birkin lawsuit has captured significant attention across various media platforms. With an extensive online discourse involving 37,000 users and over 63,000 mentions, the controversy has reverberated widely, reaching an estimated audience of 35 million individuals.


Popular discussion themes of Hermes Birkin Lawsuit - Image - Social Listening

Key Concepts on the Birkin Lawsuit


Discussions surrounding the ongoing controversy predominantly center on key themes such as the Birkin bags themselves, the class-action lawsuit, the implications for California consumers, and the historical purchasing practices of Hermès. 



TikTok Mention of Hermes Birkin Lawsuit - Image - Social Listening



Some individuals sympathetic to the plaintiffs' perspective delve deeper into the ramifications of Hermès' buying structure. They emphasize that by limiting access to the Birkin bag based on factors such as celebrity status or prior spending history, the brand effectively erects barriers that prevent particular consumers from participating in the luxury market. These barriers, they argue, extend beyond mere economic considerations and intersect with issues of social identity, including race and class.


byu/FlyGloomy from discussion


In their view, the exclusivity surrounding the Birkin bag perpetuates a system of privilege that reinforces existing inequalities. By allowing a select few to determine who can purchase the bag, Hermès inadvertently enables a form of discrimination, whether intentional or not. This, they contend, not only undermines the principles of fairness and equal opportunity but also risks alienating potential customers who may perceive such practices as exclusionary and discriminatory.


On Neutral Ground

While some individuals express support for the plaintiffs in the Hermès controversy, others adopt a more neutral stance, drawing parallels between Hermès' business model and practices employed by other luxury brands or imagining the implications if such practices were applied to everyday items.



For example, one Twitter user compares Hermès' approach to Ferrari's requirement for customers to purchase a used Ferrari before being eligible to buy a new one. The tweet suggests that such practices may not be unique to Hermès and could serve as a precedent for challenging similar business models in other industries. Additionally, the tweet speculates that this case could prompt a broader reconsideration of how exclusivity is perceived and maintained within consumer markets.


byu/FlyGloomy from discussion


On the other hand, another Twitter user imagines the consequences of applying Hermès' purchasing format to more common items, such as Apple MacBooks. This comparison highlights the potential backlash if such restrictive purchasing requirements were imposed on widely accessible consumer goods, showing the unique context of luxury markets and the extrinsic value associated with them.


Supporting Hermès 

On the flip side, there are those who advocate for the companies' practice of gatekeeping the purchase of the bag.



For instance, one Twitter user applauds the notion of exclusivity created by such brands, characterizing it as an impressive feat in the realm of commerce. This perspective celebrates the ability of luxury brands like Hermès to cultivate an aura of exclusivity that adds allure to their products.


Similarly, another Twitter user questions the rationale behind the lawsuit, arguing that such restrictive purchasing practices are standard within the luxury industry. They suggest that if Hermès were to lose the lawsuit, it could potentially undermine the essence of modern luxury, which thrives on the notion of limited accessibility achieved through meticulous customer spending. This viewpoint highlights the strategic importance of exclusivity to luxury brands and the potential repercussions of challenging established industry norms.


Furthermore, another Twitter user reinforces this sentiment by asserting that the practice of limiting access to luxury goods extends beyond fashion to include other luxury sectors such as cars and watches. They suggest that this approach is pervasive across all luxury spaces and is integral to maintaining the prestige and allure associated with such brands.

These perspectives underscore the belief held by some that the gatekeeping practices employed by companies like Hermès are not only justified but also essential for preserving the exclusivity and prestige that define the luxury market.


Possible Crisis on the Horizon

Sentiment analysis of Hermes Birkin Lawsuit - Image - Social Listening Digimind

Despite the extensive dialogue surrounding the controversy, only a mere 10% of sentiments expressed have been negative towards the Hermès brand. This indicates the enduring strength and resilience of Hermès' prestige, which appears impervious to the challenges posed by the lawsuit. The deep-rooted loyalty and admiration that consumers hold for the brand highlights its ability to weather criticism and maintain its esteemed status in the luxury fashion landscape.
Key discussion themes around Hermes Birkin Lawsuit - Image - Social Listening DigimindKey Concepts on the Birkin Lawsuit
In addition to the ongoing controversy surrounding the purchasing structure of Birkin bags, Hermès faces another significant challenge: the rampant sale of counterfeit copies of its bags and products. This crisis poses a serious threat to the brand's reputation and financial integrity, as counterfeit goods undermine the exclusivity and prestige associated with Hermès.

The proliferation of fraudulent Hermès products not only deceives consumers but tarnishes the brand's image and diminishes trust in its authenticity. Despite the attempts by Hermès to combat this issue through legal measures, anti-counterfeiting initiatives, and collaboration with law enforcement agencies worldwide, the persistent nature of counterfeit operations underscores the ongoing struggle faced by the brand in protecting its intellectual property and maintaining the integrity of its products.  

Solutions to Adverting Crisis

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Social listening refers to the tracking and analyzing of online conversations and trends happening around a given topic, brand, or industry as a whole. The scope of your social listening objective is defined by smart data generated from specific words, phrases, or long-stretching queries.
By scrutinizing this data, our specialists can offer tailored recommendations to help you effectively allocate resources and refine your communication approach. Digimind's insights and live sentiment analysis will equip you to preemptively address potential crises with assurance and gain deeper insights into your brand.
Download Digimind's report on Asia Pacific's luxury goods industry on social.

Written by CYL