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?

The details aren’t entirely clear from Women’s Wear Daily‘s reporting (They apparently didn’t think the inside job angle was that interesting; I think it’s the real story here.), but the article mentions that as a part of the crime ring, clandestine French workshops full of luxury leathers and materials were busted. I can only conjecture, but stealing your company’s raw materials and trafficking them to counterfeiters seems like just the thing to get you both fired and arrested.

And then, of course, someone had to be making the bags, so it’s possible that all or some of the people implicated were artisans, who could have been doing anything from supplying patterns (propriety materials, for sure) for outside workers to follow to taking part in actual assembly. Again, WWD provided precious few details on the crimes of the Hermes employees arrested, their involvement with the counterfeiters or their positions within the French luxury house. With Hermes employees involved (and according to the Daily Mail, actually running the operation) and company materials seemingly used, though, one can’t help but wonder – what exactly makes an Hermes bag an Hermes bag?

The bags were manufactured in France and apparently disseminated through distribution channels in the US, Europe and Asia, with one branch of the ring’s sales estimated to be worth $22 million alone. If more details about the Hermes employees’ involvement with the ring become public, we’ll be sure to update you.

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Share Your Thoughts With Us

  • Marie Martell

    and this is why it’s so ridiculous for anyone to waste all that money on a bag can be fake and remade for 100 bucks.

    • Gchandler333

      I so agree Marie and I can guarantee that most folks wouldn’t know a fake from a real one on first glance and it many cases, serious inspection…

    • MT9922

      I agree Marei and Gchandler333,  the fakes keep on getting better and better and pretty soon it is going to be very difficult to ascertain a fake and a real one.  Thank goodness we have reputable and knowledgeable people on TPF to help authenticate items for us.  Thanks to those that volunteer their time to help others.  It is truly a wonderful service and know you are helping a lot of people out.  You are saving them only only time and money, but the peace of mind knowing that they are getting an authentic handbag. 

  • bryologue

    Hermès-provided materials and Hermès artisans working on an Hermès bag — is it still authentic? Talk about blurring the lines.

    • MT9922

      You make a great point!!  Its sure brings up the legal term “slippery slope.”  Technically, the bags were made by active Hermes employees so wouldn’t they be deemed authentic. In essence, they would have all of the proper stitching, stamps, marks, etc.  How would one identify one they made from one purchased in a Hermes store….

  • Mirna

    There are many people who can easily afford a real bag and still opt for a fake bc they refuse to spend that kind of money on a handbag. I know some personally. My thing is if it’s fake I’ll know it’s fake and it won’t have the same value for me.

    • Fiona- Brasil


    • Judy_banks

      Are you saying you value handbags accordingly to the price you pay for them? And what’s wrong with fake bags? They look exactly the same as the original ones but they are much cheaper. Everybody buys fake bags but they just don’t admit it.

      • Jonah

        Bags are partly valued by their retail worth, yes. However, there is also the factor of morals. The designs of bags are intellectual property of the designer, and to steal them is despicable, but, to support them, is just plain morally bankrupt.

        WRONG. I’ve NEVER bought a fake, nor my bf, nor my granny, nor my mom, nor my aunt. There’s really just no point when you can well afford the real thing.

        P.S. There is no way a fake can pass off as the real thing, specifically people with a keen eye. Honestly. Designer goods are my family’s bread & butter, and really, there is no substituting a bag made by a craftsman with one made by child laborers.

      • Judy Banks

        child laborers??? Really? What are you, six?? Do you honestly think these bags are made by children? You believe everything you see on tv or read in a magazine without actually thinking if it can be real or not.

        You say ” I’ve NEVER bought a fake” so how do you know “There is no way a fake can pass off as the real thing”?? Have you ever hold a fake bag? Not one sold on the streets, a $50 one. But a good fake, one you can get for $350-$450. They are really close to the authentic and if you buy it from a reputable seller, like this one, you can send it back if you don’t like it.

      • EG

        What’s the point of buying the fake product replicated for that brand? If you want to buy the bag to sport the brand ..but it’s fake ..what is the point? So people buy LV fakes so they can be stylish too because sporting LV bags is what is in style, BUT IT’S NOT EVEN REAL! No logic.
        It’s like buying a fake iPhone, does not even make any sense.

      • Judy Banks

        What’s the point? You get the same bag but the price is much better, that’s the point.
        No bag in the world can make you stylish, it’s about the attitude and how you mix and match your outfit. You can have all the money in the world and a ton of authentic bags, but if you don’t know how to wear them, you’ll still look cheap. A bag it’s just an accessory, so it doesn’t really matter if it’s fake or authentic.

      • DiamondD

        Judy you are soooooo very spot on!!!

  • AAAA

    Maybe WWD didn’t want to share details because they didn’t want to give anyone any ideas???

    • …any ideas about what?

      It’s not WWD’s job to protect Hermes, it’s their job to report industry news. I just found it odd that the writer buried the lede, to a certain extent, by not highlighting the fact that the busted counterfeit ring was apparently an inside job. They may not have had specific details about the Hermes employees arrested, and I’m not sure if arrest records are considered public record (and therefore accessible to journalists) in France.

      • MT9922

        That is a great point Amanda.  It will be interesting to see if police records are public record.  I think I will call my friend in France to find out….and I agree it is not WDD’s responsibility to protect Hermes.  Anytime anyone reports news, they are just reporting what they have uncovered, good and bad!

      • Michie

        I totally agree with your point Amanda!  Journalists get a bit too cozy with the industry that they are covering sometimes.  In order to protect their integrity, they should report the news and not worry about protecting industry no matter how powerful.

  • MT9922

    I was not to surprised to read about something like this due to all of the fakes that are in the market.  I am glad they got caught.  I wanted a Hermes Birkin and I was actually referred to someone who would make it for me personally as they allegedly worked or had worked at Hermes.  I obviously did not go this route as 1) I did not believe it and 2) I want to ensure that if I am going to invest a lot of money on a handbag, it is on the up and up.  

  • 19yearslater

    I agree, the inside job is the story here. I’d think that people working at a women’s magazine would zero in on that as the news. If there were materials moved or artisans making the fakes it would be shocking. 

  • There is a lesson to be learned.

    • MT9922


  • Bel

    For all you know the said employee/s manufactured the bag and replaced the Real Hermes with the counterfeit and on sold the actual Hermes for $$$ This has been known to happen in other fashion houses.

  • Disgusting! Let us know more. Kind regards, Oliana –

  • Say NO to piracy!

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