Lawsuit exposes Hermès's snobbery and allegedly illegal sales tactics

Hermès, the epitome of luxury fashion, is facing a class-action lawsuit that exposes its alleged dirty tactics to control who can buy its precious Birkin handbags. The French fashion house, worth a staggering $266 billion, is accused of violating antitrust laws by allowing only "worthy" customers – i.e., those who have sufficiently lined Hermès's pockets – to get their pampered paws on a Birkin.

The lawsuit, filed by two California residents, paints a picture of Hermès sales associates as the henchmen of this elitist scheme, strong-arming customers into buying overpriced trinkets just for a chance to be deemed "Birkin-worthy." The plaintiffs had their feelings hurt by being made to feel they weren't good enough to warrant a handbag unless they first dropped a small fortune on scarves and shoes. The lawsuit calls out this practice for what it is: illegal "tying" of one product to another.

Hermès's snobbery knows no bounds, reports The Guardian, as even the wealthiest customers are forced to jump through hoops and flash their purchase history to gain access to the hallowed Birkin, which can cost between $10,000 and $12,500 depending on the model.

The lawsuit calls the Birkin handbags, long seen as a status symbol and named for the British-born actor and singer Jane Birkin, whom France took to its heart and who died last year, an "icon of fashion".

Consumers cannot purchase a Birkin online from Hermès, and the leather bags, which are handcrafted and can cost thousands of dollars each, are not displayed for sale in the company's retail stores, according to the lawsuit.

"Typically, only those consumers who are deemed worthy of purchasing a Birkin handbag will be shown a Birkin handbag [in a private room]," the lawsuit claimed.

See also: Hermes heir to bequeath half of $13 billion fortune to gardener