Did you hear about the Birkin bag snafu? According to recent customers who paid $20,000 for the privilege of carrying the iconic Hermès design, the newly purchased handbags emit a strong scent of marijuana, especially when exposed to heat. (Imagine that.) The smell, transmitted through badly-tanned leather, then infects other items in close proximity. Outbreaks are spreading and it's a real scary situation.
Sarcasm aside, the story brings to mind Mildred's ice bucket, which has gone to a very good home, by the way. Readers may recall how I embraced the ice bucket's distinct odor, and marketed it for a new purpose. Couldn't Hermès follow that path by offering exchanges to customers who are put off by their reefer-reeking purses and then reselling the stink bombs as a limited edition? Can't you see the lines forming?
Because people like mistakes. Remember the postage stamp issued in 1918 that featured an airplane, except that in one sheet of stamps, the airplane is flying upside down? One of those stamps sold on eBay a few years ago for nearly $1 million dollars.
Then again, Hermès may need to protect its image. The Birkin Bag is the star in its fleet, landing roles in Woody Allen films, making court appearances in high profile insider-trading cases, and generally being on the arm of endless swans-about-town.
I am referring to the Birkin bag that nearly stole the Oscar from Cate Blanchett in the film Blue Jasmine. The bag appeared in many scenes as a buffer between what Cate's character once was and the pathetic disaster she had become. Here's a cool post about its role.
I am also referring to the first day of Martha Stewart's insider trading trial when the press took photographs of Martha carrying her $20,000 Birkin bag into court. The bag became a symbol of Martha's arrogance and she was forced to smuggle it into the courtroom. It did not accompany her to prison though it did wait for her loyally on the outside.
The other quandary that Hermès will need to solve is how to keep their competition from leveraging the Berkin flaw to their advantage. If I were Gucci or Louis Vuitton, I would instruct my sales staff to whisper discreetly to potential customers that "at least our bags don't smell like weed."
Personally, I am excited about this turn of events. Ever since a friend confessed that she donated her mother's Birkin bag to the Salvation Army, (honestly, the shame!) I am convinced that I'll be able to find one hidden among the common riffraff handbags at the estate sales and auctions I frequent. I always thought it would be my sharp eyes that would lead to treasure. Looks like I'll also need to deploy the ole sniffer from now on.
Photo by me, styled by Ellen Takerian. Gif courtesy of Abigail Donaldson who creates the most mesmerizing gifs of the haute couture world over at Oxford and Park. Follow her!