Paris prosecutors for the manufacture and sale of counterfeit Hermes (Hermès)

The leader of the gang of handbags delivered a verdict, including some of the former employees of Hermes.

A total of 10 criminal gangs were tried. They sold counterfeit Hermes handbags to Asian tourists in Paris and consumers in Hong Kong in 2013 and 2014. Seven of the gang are former employees of Hermes.

Initially, a man was suspected of selling stolen Hermes handbags in Asia. The French police eavesdropped on his house and found that the gang had produced dozens of fake Hermes platinum bags (Birkin) at home.

The prosecutor said that the gang sold fake bags at a price of 23,500 to 32,000 euros per piece, and could make an annual profit of about 2 million euros.

They obtained crocodile skin raw materials from Italian suppliers, smuggled zippers and other parts from Hermès factories, and hand-sewn them by 4 skilled leather workers using Hermès’ signature stitching method.

One of them is a 52-year-old Cambodian woman who has lived in France since 1980. Her task is to resell fake and real platinum bags together to customers. She told investigators that customers knew they were buying fakes.

Another 45-year-old former Hermès employee was accused of plotting the counterfeit gang. He was only 18 when he first started working at Hermès. He said in court: “At the time, I didn’t realize the seriousness of the incident.”

The prosecutor ruled that the three conspirators were sentenced to imprisonment of less than four years and a fine of 100,000 to 200,000 euros, and suspended sentences and fines were imposed on the other three. Hermès’ lawyers also demanded compensation of 2 million euros.

The platinum bag is the most expensive product of Hermes. It was launched in the 1980s and named after the British actress Jane Birkin who is active in France. The platinum bag of crocodile skin is worth more than 40,000 euros, and customers usually have to queue up for reservations in advance.

Platinum bags are often value-added by resale or auction, and have a high collection value. In May 2017, a rare crocodile platinum bag (pictured below) was sold at a high price of US$380,000 at the Christie’s Hong Kong auction.