Thankfully, no one’s sleeping on the sidewalk outside the store anymore for a chance to buy a bag
We know as well as anyone that plenty of people will go to outlandish lengths to get a handbag if they want one badly enough, and that’s especially true of Hermès obsessives, who know going in that procuring one of the brand’s bags can be tricky and who are likely of an income bracket that makes them unfamiliar with not usually getting what they want. That had lead to a linepocalypse of sorts at the Faubourg Saint-Honoré Hermès boutique in Paris, which is the store’s global flagship and its busiest store. Systems Hermès had implemented to try and deal with overcrowding inside had lead to an inconvenient appointment system for shoppers and hired line-waiters sleeping on the sidewalk outside the store, which didn’t go over well in the ritzy neighborhood. Finally, it looks like the system has been fixed.
We detailed all the problems with Hermès’s appointment system at length last year, but the main issue was that no one could browse handbags without an appointment, and to get an appointment, shoppers had to show up in person at the store’s opening and then be told when to come back later that day. Hermès shoppers are rich, of course, so that pretty quickly lead to people hiring others to camp out outside the store for a good spot in line and a better spot on the appointment list. Many of the people who shop in the FSH are in Paris on vacation, so this system meant that an entire day of an international trip would be spent trying to acquire the permission to look at a handbag at an appointed time. Not great. (Also, French luxury goods are substantially cheaper for non-European travelers to buy in France than in their home countries, so for travelers, getting an appointment means saving hundreds or thousands of dollars on something that never goes on sale.)
So now, Hermès has done something it probably always should have done but that luxury brands are notoriously slow to trust: it got the internet involved. Now, shoppers hoping for an appointment simply go to hermesfaubourg.com on their smartphone (and only their smartphone—the website will not work on a computer, we tried!) during the store’s business hours to request an appointment.
We checked the site after hours, and it spelled out the rules neatly: the day before you’d like to come into the store, submit a request via the website and your appointment time will be emailed to you that evening. The next day, you still have to check in because appointment times can move, but at least you don’t have to go to the store to get one.
Based on user feedback on our PurseForum (which includes a gorgeous pic of a newly acquired Hermès Constance), it seems as though purchase history in the store is one of the things that can determine how early—and therefore how good—your appointment time is the next day. One Forum member and her husband were in Paris on vacation, and she requested her appointment first; he followed about 12 hours later. He had been to the store to buy scarves (which don’t require an appointment) the day before, though, and when their assignments came back, his was much earlier in the day, in spite of being requested much later. Something to keep in mind for any summer travel plans you might have.