A long time ago, I ranted a bit about why terming the purchase of a bag as an “investment” was probably a bit silly, not to mention inaccurate, and the kind of marketing terminology that encourages consumers to overspend on goods that depreciate even more rapidly than cars. It still is – at best, buying fashion is an investment in your own enjoyment, and the dividends it pays won’t be of the monetary variety. Hermes, it turns out, bucks that trend on two levels.

Last week, Hermes released its 2012 profit information and informed us all that it had been another banner year for the French powerhouse. Revenues were up 18.5%, making it Hermes’ most lucrative year ever, with jewelry the most quickly expanding sector, up 45%, according to Vogue UK. Bags, though, enjoyed an impressive 22% jump in growth, on top of a year of business that was already sprinting to keep up with seemingly endless demand for everything from canvas Garden Party totes to alligator Birkins. When compared to relatively flat leather goods growth across competitors like Louis Vuitton, the number is even more remarkable.

That means two things. First, if you can get your money around some Hermes stock, you probably won’t be sorry you did. (It might be a little more difficult than merely placing a call to your broker, though – Louis Vuitton has its guy on speed dial when it comes to Hermes.) Second, it means that the actual bags are more valuable than ever because demand still outpaces supply, despite some modest supply-side expansion from Hermes; if you have a specific bag in mind and aren’t an established VIP, you’ll likely have to wait. When you combine that with annual price increases that continue to raise the value of existing Hermes bags, you end up with a situation where well-kept used bags, especially Birkins, regularly sell for more from a third party than they do from an Hermes boutique. If you’re the kind of person who has $10,000 to spend on a brand new bag but are told you’ll need to wait, perhaps months, then maybe you’re also the kind of person who has an extra couple thousand dollars to skip the line and buy a new-looking bag from a third party.

The online sale marketplace seems to bear out that theory. Luxury sites like Moda Operandi and Rue La La routinely host sales where auction houses offer an assortment of pre-owned Hermes bags, the most desirable of which are marked above retail. Invariably, the bags fly off the virtual shelf, most within hours of launch. If you have the money and have been considering the purchase of a Birkin, it boils down to there being almost literally no risk involved – if you later decide it doesn’t suit you and you have the savvy to resell, you’ll likely recoup your costs. My advice, though, would be to buy some stock instead. You can flip it to Louis Vuitton later when they invariably call you.

[Image via Moda Operandi]

We don’t delight in bad news around here, and a price increase is just about the worst news that you can ever expect to find on a handbag blog. (We’re lucky that way.) Unfortunately, that’s what this time of year brings for Hermes lovers, and NYC shopping blog Mizhattan reports that we can expect a noticeable uptick in price for everything from Birkins to Colliers de Chien to flasks. How much? That depends.

The price increase is rumored to be between seven and 10 percent, depending on product, which would raise the price of the brand’s marquee handbags by over a thousand dollars apiece for higher-end leathers and exotics. It seems as though the increase will phase in start any day now and running through the beginning of February, and as Mizhattan mentions, it seems logical that bags would be among the first pieces to see the hike because of their importance in the Hermes product lineup.

Hermes also increased its prices at the end of January last year, and it seems as though the brand will continue to do it until the market won’t bear it anymore. Birkins, Kellys and all of Hermes’ other bags still fly off the shelves as fast as they can be cranked out, it seems as though we have a ways to go before a slowdown. Does the price increase make you any less likely to buy something from Hermes, or are price increases just part of being a luxury consumer?

I am a major sports fanatic, and starting July 27th I will be glued to my TV to watch the Olympic games. Because of my athletic background, I have many friends competing for Team USA and with other teams around the world. Every four years, I look forward to the world coming together to root on our athletes toward one common goal: performing to the best of their abilities and honoring their country.

So when I saw Ralph Lauren was the official outfitter of Team USA, I thought it was a great fit. Now that we’ve seen the uniforms, though, let’s just be honest: RL botched an amazing opportunity to dress Team USA’s 2012 Olympians in America’s finest apparel. The official team uniforms are beyond boring and almost militant in appearance (especially the women’s uniform). A lame beret is to be atop each athletes head, and things don’t get much better as you move down. A long skirt that will be unflattering on most women’s figures will be paired with a boxy jacket. At least the men’s uniforms work a bit better, as a pair of slacks and a jacket is par for the course. (more…)

In case you just can’t get enough of Infinitely Kusama, Louis Vuitton‘s capsule collection in collaboration with Japanese modern artist and polka dot enthusiast Yayoi Kusama, you’ll soon have even more ways to shop. Not only will customized windows roll out to Louis Vuitton boutiques across the globe, with the Kusama collection available in all of Vuitton’s 463 boutiques, but LV will also open up a handful of Kusama-only pop-up shops. If you’re sick of the hype for this collection (which some of you seem to be), then perhaps this post isn’t for you. All others: More details after the jump! (more…)

When I first heard the rumor that Yves Saint Laurent‘s new creative director Hedi Slimane was looking to change the iconic French luxury house’s name, admittedly, I scoffed. “Silly slow-news-day gossip that will never be substantiated,” I said to myself. Because what else could it be? Almost all of YSL’s branding over the last 10 years has centered squarely on the importance of the brand’s initials, and the Y in particular – from the incredibly popular Yves Saint Laurent Cabas ChYc to the Yves Saint Laurent Easy Bag, practically every major bag that the brand currently sells is predicated on the Y. Even many of the men’s bags use the logo heavily, and YSL’s logo is a stylized set of initials. The name is the brand.

And then today, the brand confirmed to Women’s Wear Daily that by the time Slimane’s first collection debuts in the brand’s stores in 2013, Yves Saint Laurent will be known as Saint Laurent Paris. The WWD article mentions changes to the ready-to-wear line specifically, and also that the YSL name will be used for “institutional” purposes, whatever that means. Additionally, the iconic YSL logo will remain in use in some capacities. Otherwise, Slimane will return YSL (SLP?) to the branding used in 1966, all the way down to the fonts. What the article makes no mention of, however, is what will become of the heavily Y-branded bags. (more…)

In and of itself, news of police busting up a counterfeit handbag ring is not exactly breaking news. Enormous luxury brands put pressure on authorities in Europe and America to stanch the flow of fake bags into their markets, usually from Asian manufacturers and distributors unaffiliated with the mainstream luxury industry in any way. Police bust the rings fairly regularly, proudly displaying crates of confiscated goods on the news, only to have more sprout up in the defunct rings’ places. If you’re interested in high-end handbags, you probably know this narrative well by now.

When I heard about a counterfeit Hermes ring recently raided in France, which was first reported in Women’s Wear Daily last week, I expected the story to be much the same. What I didn’t expect was that Hermes employees would also be implicated. So far two have been dismissed, although it’s not clear if they were also among the dozen arrested, and the company thinks that several more employees might be involved. Care to guess what they were doing? (more…)

It’s not often that our Real Housewives coverage and our handbag coverage intersect, but sometimes when a reality TV star finds herself in financial straits, the stuff in her closet is all she has left with which to barter. (Side note: Why do people in financial distress find themselves so attracted to television? Bravo doesn’t pay that well.)

That’s apparently what happened to Taylor Armstrong of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills fame, who recently settled a lawsuit that had been brought against her and her late husband Russell over allegations that they defrauded MyMedicalRecords.com for over $1.5 million while they claimed to seek funding for the company’s growth. Because Russell hanged himself last year and the truth finally came out about the couple’s financial situation (they were flat broke, they had few liquid assets and they rented their massive home), Taylor had to turn over her personal property to work toward fulfilling the settlement. That included some of her handbag collection, but as it turns out, the Birkins were all as fake as her lips. (more…)

I love a fun video and everyone on the PurseBlog team is constantly sending videos back and forth to keep ourselves entertained. Some are informative and some are simply to add laughter to our day. I had a smile on my face from ear to ear and found myself singing along to every word of this adorable Call Me Maybe cover that Rebecca Minkoff, Leandra of The Man Repeller, and model Hilary Rhoda shot as they got ready for the CFDA awards. There are cameos by many on the Rebecca Minkoff team as well as her husband. But the star of the video hands down is Rebecca’s adorable son Luca, what a cutie!

This song is easy to sing along to and Rebecca brought her usual spunk to the cover (and so did The Man Repeller with her sweet dance moves). On top of it all, there are lots of close ups of Rebecca Minkoff accessories and clothing. It’s pretty much a match made in fun fashion heaven. [Shop Rebecca Minkoff]

Last night marked the 2012 Council of Fashion Designers of America Awards. To be invited to join the CFDA is an honor, but to be chosen as a nominee and then win is a major feat. That’s why we’d like to send huge congratulations to Reed Krakoff for winning Accessory Designer of the Year at last night’s ceremony. The CFDA awarded him with this honor because they felt he has made the most outstanding contribution to the market and has influenced the direction of accessory design with his Spring and Fall 2012 Collections.

I picked some of my favorite designs from the nominees yesterday and shared them on our exclusive Net-A-Porter.com page, including items from Reed Krakoff’s collection. [Pictured above is the Orange Crocodile Mini Atlantique, $11,000 via Reed Krakoff]

Shop Reed Krakoff bags online through Reed Krakoff and via Net-A-Porter!

As some of you have probably read, there’s a set of photos going around the Internet that purport to show Clint Eastwood’s 19-year-old daughter Francesca Eastwood chewing on, sawing in half and then setting ablaze a “$100,000 Hermes Crocodile Birkin” (scare quotes intentional, you’ll see why in a second), all in the name of art. (“Art.”) The photos appear on the website of photographer Tyler Shields, Eastwood’s boyfriend, and their creation will reportedly be documented in an episode of her E! reality show, Mrs. Eastwood and Company, set to run next week.

The Internet has been clutching its collective pearls since TMZ first posted about this story a few days ago, with people expressing outrage about a number of issues they have with the photos and their artistic goals. (Among the complaints I’ve read: torching something that costs that much money is both aggressively stupid and wasteful, anyone would spend $100,000 on a handbag in the first place is obscene, and Francesca is bringing shame to her father’s good name and disrespecting an iconic piece of design in the process.) It seems to us, though, that everyone’s ignoring a lot of fairly clear factual inaccuracies in this whole dumb stunt that render the debate moot – no one burned a crocodile Birkin at all, despite what an aspiring reality star, her publicity-hungry boyfriend and the network that brought us four distinct Kardashian-based shows want you to believe. We’ve got the skinny, plus the rest of the photos, after the jump. (more…)

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