Hermès' Class Action Targets Exclusive Birkin Bag Sales Tactics

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Two California Consumers File An Antitrust Class Action Lawsuit Against The Luxury Brand, Targeting Its Sales Practices Surrounding The Birkin Bag.

The famed French luxury house Hermès stands accused in a class action lawsuit that throws a spotlight on its sales practices, specifically surrounding the iconic Birkin bag. Two plaintiffs from California, Tina Cavalleri and Mark Glinoga, contend that Hermès has crafted an exclusive sales strategy that feels more like a velvet rope outside an elite club than a welcoming retail experience.

A tale of two shoppers

Cavalleri and Glinoga, the Californian duo taking a stand, allege that Hermès' business practices put the Birkin beyond reach unless customers first prove their loyalty through substantial purchases of non-Birkin items. Their suit claims this 'pay-to-play' approach is more than just unfair—it's an antitrust issue.

Behind the Hermès curtain

Described in the lawsuit as a private showing rather than a public offering, the elusive Birkin bag is said to be reserved for those who have already invested significantly in the Hermès brand. This lawsuit seeks to draw back the curtain on these exclusive practices and to usher in an era of transparency for all of Hermès' clientele.

The cost of luxury

Cavalleri, having already spent a sum that could rival the price of a luxury car at Hermès, was reportedly snubbed when she sought to purchase another Birkin. According to her, the message was clear: keep supporting our business if you want a specialty bag.

Meanwhile, Glinoga's attempts to purchase the bag were met with a similar narrative: to unlock the gates to a Birkin, he would need to invest in other Hermès treasures first. Despite his efforts and willingness to spend, the Birkin bag remained out of reach.

While the Birkin's price tag may already seem steep, Cavalleri and Glinoga's legal battle suggests the true cost includes an unspoken, preliminary spend on a range of Hermès luxuries—a cost they argue should not be part of the equation.

Seeking justice in the court of fashion

With Hermès operating over 40 retail locations in the United States, eight of which are in California, the suit claims that the practice isn't isolated but rather a widespread strategy. 

"Typically, only those customers who are deemed worthy of purchasing a Birkin handbag will be shown a Birkin handbag in a private room," says the lawsuit, painting a picture of an elusive transaction shrouded in secrecy.

The plaintiffs are not merely seeking personal redress but are calling for a class-action status that would include all Californians similarly situated—those who've faced the luxury labyrinth when attempting to purchase a Birkin over the past four years.

The outcome may redefine the rules of engagement for luxury retail and set a precedent that even the most exclusive brands must make their products accessible without preconditioned purchases.

The plaintiffs are represented by Joshua H. Haffner, Alfredo Torrijos, and Vahan Mikayelyan of Haffner Law PC; and Shaun C. Setareh and Thomas A. Segal of Setareh Law Group.

The Hermès antitrust class action lawsuit is Cavalleri et al. v. Hermès International, Case No. 3:24-cv-01707-AGT, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

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