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

  • 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.


US-Iraqi beauty mogul Huda Kattan to appear in new Quibi series ‘About Face’

Updated 04 August 2020

US-Iraqi beauty mogul Huda Kattan to appear in new Quibi series ‘About Face’

DUBAI: US-Iraqi beauty mogul Huda Kattan is set to make an appearance  in British model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley’s new Quibi series “About Face.”

The six-part show, which is set to launch on Aug 10, focuses on business development and entrepreneurship in the beauty industry. 

The 36-year-old Kattan, who founded her eponymous beauty empire Huda Beauty in 2013, is among several of the high-profile guests and beauty entrepreneurs who will join Huntington-Whitely, including cosmetics mogul Kylie Jenner, Glossier chief executive Emily Weiss, South Korean beauty influencer Park Hye-min, celebrity make-up artist Sir John and hairstylist Jen Atkin.

It is expected that the model will “get up close and personal with beauty industry trailblazers,” giving insights into product breakthroughs and game-changing items.

Kattan is undoubtedly a gamechanger in the beauty industry, making her a fitting guest for the show.

In addition to being at the helm of one of the world’s fastest-growing makeup brands, the Dubai-based entrepreneur also  recently-launched a skin care range titled Wishful. She is also the co-founder of a fragrance line titled Kayali, in collaboration with her younger sister Mona Kattan.

From a humble start of beauty blogging after leaving the corporate world, Kattan has become one of the most recognizable names in makeup around the world, and has amassed a social media following of over 46.5 million – to put that into perspective, more people follow the Huda Beauty Instagram account than four times the population of the UAE. 

Meanwhile, Huntington-Whiteley is not the first high-profile collaborator of the streaming service. Since its launch in April of this year, the platform, which specializes in short-form content under 10 minutes per episode, has partnered with talent like Alexander Wang, Chrissy Teigen, Idris Elba and Reese Witherspoon among others.

Huntington-Whiteley’s series on the American short-form streaming platform was announced in December last year. 

The model is an executive producer on the show, alongside Lily Berg. Also working on the project is Alfred Street Industries, the production company behind “Project Runway.”

Huntington-Whitely has experience in the brand side of beauty too, having joined Hourglass as its first brand ambassador this year. Prior to that, the model was the face of BareMinerals.