Sunday, January 29, 2012


Michael Tonnello is the author of this fun book "Bringing Home the Birkin: My Life in Hot Pursuit of the World's Most Coveted Handbag." I love that the cover of the hardback book resembles an orange croc Birkin! I'm proud to say that I have this book listed on the right-hand side of my blog under "What's on Miss Janice's nightstand!" The orange cover reminds me each morning and night of my newest obsession.

After working as a hair and makeup artist on a photo shoot for I.B.M. in Spain, Michael packed up all his worldly possessions and moved from Provincetown, Rhode Island to Barcelona. Upon arrival, the work that he thought he would be doing fell through. He needed to find an income soon, so he started selling some of his clothes on eBay. After selling a $99 Polo Ralph Lauren scarf that he hadn't worn in years for $430, he sold another Hermes scarf and then started getting emails from eBay buyers with their "Hermes wish lists." He realized that he could make a lot of money by offering the hard-to-find Hermes scarf designs on eBay. Thus began his global search and his career as an "Hermes Reseller."

Traveling the world, he would sweet-talk Hermes clerks...or "Scarf Ambassadors" {that's what they are called I would just love being one!} into going into the backrooms and digging up retired designs and soon his guestroom was stacked high with the trademark orange boxes. The scarves began selling for top dollar on eBay. His scarves were of course wrapped in Hermes custom-made, acid-free tissue and placed in the trademark orange box with the Hermes book "How to Tie a Scarf" included with each purchase. Of course, at this point, I'm drooling over all the posh details!!!

During this time, he developed online connections with zealous buyers who wanted more Hermes merchandise from him. Could he find a Birkin? Well, at that time, he didn't even know what a Birkin was. After much research and developing his "Formula" he finally located a Birkin and his first buyer was Songwriter Carole Bayer Sager.

What was his "Formula"? Well, after many failed attempts at going into Hermes stores and asking to buy a Birkin, only to be told that he needed to be "on the list" and sometimes even told that "the list was cancelled," he finally decided to first make a substantial purchase of accessories then ask for the Birkin. Voila, his "Formula" worked!

In this photo from the book, Michael is wearing his Birkin-buying uniform: Prada suit, Hermes shirt, Hermes vest, Jil Sander tie, Hermes cashmere socks, Giorgio Armani shoes, Hermes chaine d'ancre bracelet, Polo Ralph Lauren sterling watch fob {worn through the lapel buttonhole}, S. T. Dupont "Medici" fountain pen {tucked inside the breast pocket}, and an orange Hermes Ulysee notebook. Details y'all. Details. People do notice!
Inside his orange Ulysee notebook, he kept the address and phone number of every Hermes store in existence {as well as salepeople's names and numbers}. The iconic Hermes chaine d'ancre bracelet he wore whenever he went Birkin-buying was his good luck charm. He bought dozens of these bracelets in the process of using the "Formula," and they sold like hot cakes on eBay.
As his business grew, the "Hermes Reseller" {or a Rogue Warrior selling to the masses, which is what he was known as to Hermes} or "Leather Liaison" as he like to called, began hiring people to help him "Bring Home the Birkin." To assist them in sealing the deal, the created his own "Birkin 101 Course" of a Hermes Store Employee to handle the Hermes clerk...from the Ingenue to the Grandmother saleperson. Hermes bags were bought and shipped directly to the South Florida home of his parents, who handled the shipping to the majority of his customers in the United States.

In one year alone, he spent 1.6 million U.S. dollars on Hermes products and was a Platinum Power Seller on eBay. Can y'all imagine all the cute loot he bought? Here's an article about Michael in the Boston Globe...please note that I absolutely ADORE the way he is dressed in the photo.

So, would you buy a fake Birkin? Lord me, my Mama always told me "If you buy one single fake thing, people will think that everything you have is fake!" I don't think that I have ever intentionally bought anything fake and I would not want a fake Birkin.

There are many sites online offering "Birkin Replicas," which is another name for "fake!" The Birkin Mall is one. I must admit that their bags are cute and the prices are good {in the $500 range}. But, I still wouldn't buy one.

You can even RENT a Birkin. At Bag Borrow or Steal you can rent a leather Birkin for $510.00/week. Lord have mercy, y'all know people do this or they wouldn't be in business!

If you decide to buy an authentic Birkin, of course you want to make sure it's not a fake.
In this video, Michael Tonello talks about "How to spot a fake Birkin."

LOVE this illustration...from the book.
Comparing the two bags below; the first bag is a fake 30 cm violet Birkin from Birkin Shop. The second bag is a 30 cm amethyste croc authentic Birkin. I guess maybe up close and in person I might see the difference.

Well...for now, this is my only Hermes Hermes scarf that I bought many years ago. I think you get a lot of mileage out of high-end accessories and right now I'm looking at some Hermes bracelets, belts, twillies, and other accessories.

I hope you have enjoyed reading about my latest obsession...All About the Birkin and Celebrities and the Birkin and today about the Birkin bag book. I'm in love with Michael that he enjoys fine dining and staying in posh hotels and of course, I love his fashion style! Y'all can buy Michael's book at his site The Birkin. He also has a blog HERE and can also be followed on Twitter.


CeCe said...

I don't know if you were a fan of theTV show "Gilmore Girls", but there is an episode where one of the characters (a college student) gets a Birkin bag from her very, very wealthy boyfriend. She isn't that impressed because she hadn't heard of the brand, but he says, "Call my sister. She'll explain it to you. It's a 'thing'.". ..Later in the episode the girl's grandmother is so jealous of her bag and obsesses over it...I'll see if I can find a clip to post here.

CeCe said...

I found the clip for you:

So adorable!

Jan@southernjunkin' said...

Cute post! On one of those reality shows (I forget which one) about consigning, the clerk sets up a party to resale old invitation only, you may sale and buy. She had someone there to authenticate! One lady brought a fake and when she was caught she calmly pulled out the original and said "I was checking to see if you knew your business"!! Wow what a business!!

E said...

My Mama loves Hermes, particularly their scarves. They're her secret little treasure, her special treat for herself. But she'll very rarely let anyone else (including my Daddy) buy one for her! She works extremely hard and so I think sometimes she gets a really special feeling from rewarding herself.

That doesn't stop her from giving the scarves as gifts though! I can think of several different times she's bought one for a close family friend. She loves to buy things for people that she knows they want but would never buy for themselves.

The enchanted home said...

Loved the post. Any chance to drool over anything Hermes is always fun.

melissa said...

I am with you and would not buy a fake .. sure would LOVE the real deal though .. in a few colors, pink for sure!!