Ex-Hermes workers risk prison over fake handbags

Ex-Hermes workers risk prison over fake handbags
The trial of a large traffic of fake Hermes by organized gangs between 2013 and 2014, several of which are former workers for Hermès, will take place in Paris on June 24, 2020. (AFP/Stephanie De Sakutin)
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Updated 26 June 2020

Ex-Hermes workers risk prison over fake handbags

Ex-Hermes workers risk prison over fake handbags
  • An inquiry uncovered a clandestine operation in which the suspects at their homes allegedly crafted dozens of counterfeit “Birkin” bags
  • Ten people went on trial this week, including seven former Hermes employees

PARIS: Paris prosecutors sought prison terms Friday for the leaders of a ring accused of making and selling fake handbags from iconic French luxury house Hermes, including some former employees.
The network, which targeted Asian tourists in Paris but also clients in Hong Kong in 2013 and 2014, was uncovered when French police wiretapped the home of a man suspected of selling stolen handbags in Asia.
An inquiry uncovered a clandestine operation in which the suspects at their homes allegedly crafted dozens of counterfeit “Birkin” bags, the most coveted — and profitable — item produced by Hermes.
Named for French-British actress Jane Birkin, the bags have long waiting lists for customers ready to pay 40,000 euros ($45,000) or more for versions made with crocodile skin.
Ten people went on trial this week, including seven former Hermes employees.
Prosecutors said they took in around two million euros a year by selling the fakes for 20,000 euros to 30,000 euros each.
The Hermes workers would make the bags with crocodile skins from an Italian supplier, using zippers and other components smuggled out of Hermes workshops.
A woman now aged 52, born in Cambodia but living in France since 1980, was tasked with selling the fake bags as well as genuine “Birkins” resold to clients at a markup.
She told investigators her clients knew that they were buying fakes, the court heard this week.
One of the employees, accused of orchestrating the counterfeiting ring, was just 18 when he began working at Hermes.
“At the time, I didn’t realize the seriousness of this,” the now 45-year-old told the court.
As the trial wound up Friday, prosecutors sought prison terms of up to four years and fines of 100,000 euros to 200,000 euros for the three ringleaders, and suspended sentences and fines for the others.
Hermes lawyers have also asked for two million euros in damages. The court is expected to announce a date for its ruling later Friday.


COVID-19 kills men’s fashion buzz in Milan

COVID-19 kills men’s fashion buzz in Milan
Updated 15 January 2021

COVID-19 kills men’s fashion buzz in Milan

COVID-19 kills men’s fashion buzz in Milan

MILAN: A year after the last COVID-free catwalk shows in Milan, men’s fashion week begins on Friday, but without the buzz of its traditional audience of buyers, bloggers, celebrities and media.

As the pandemic continues to upend Italy’s crucial luxury sector nearly 12 months after it first swept through the country, fashion houses have turned to technology to showcase their fall/winter 2021-22 collections.

Shows will be broadcast live on the fashion houses’ own websites or be replaced with pre-recorded presentations, short films and other artistic projects. Others such as Dolce & Gabbana have withdrawn entirely.

The four-day men’s fashion event takes place with infections rising in Italy’s Lombardy region with a return a full lockdown possible as early as the weekend.

Lombardy, whose capital is Milan, is one of five in Italy classified “orange” by the government, which means that stores and most schools are closed, while a curfew remains in force at night.

Among those opting for live shows to be broadcast by the fashion houses are Fendi, Etro and Kway.

Most other brands, however, including Ermenegildo Zegna, Tod’s, Prada and Church’s, have opted for pre-records – choices that allow for creative freedom but lack the immediacy and drama of live shows.

Dolce & Gabbana, which was originally scheduled to offer a traditional runway show on January 16, announced on Monday its decision to pull out entirely.

In view of COVID-19, it said, “the conditions essential to the realisation of our fashion show are not met.”

For the moment, no digital presentation is planned.