when i first spied bringing home the birkin in my friendly neighborhood bookstore, i was instantly intrigued. the hermès birkin, for those that aren’t familiar, is widely regarded as “the” handbag. it’s the one that’s impossible to get, that’s a symbol of wealth and success for everyone from socialites to celebrities – or, for a more direct route, it’s the bag that samantha in sex and the city had to use lucy liu’s name to procure.
hermès possesses this unique brand mystique that’s unlike any other design house in the world. they have somehow managed to convince us all that we are lucky to shop there, and not the other way around. pretty amazing, actually. so when i saw a chance to learn a little about the inner workings of the mother ship from a very notorious (and highly controversial) reseller, i couldn’t help but check it out.
the premise of the book is the author’s rise to “greatness” (a term i’m using very loosely) as one of the main resellers of hermes items on ebay. it chronicles how he got started, how he acquired his merchandise, and dabbles a little in travel-writing along the way, as he describes trips to various regions to buy hermes items from stores around the world.
ultimately, i got about what i expected. for those that are hermès devotees, or just insanely curious about how the “who’s who” set actually obtains these gorgeous bags, it’s well worth a read. whatever opinion i have of the author personally, there’s no question he was able to acquire a lot of birkins during his time – by hook or by crook.
but fair warning: the author is, frankly, not a great writer (not that i’m hemingway…). he’s also incredibly pompous, self-serving, and even annoying at times. i suffered through until the end due to a combination of insatiable curiousity and train-wreck-voyeurism.
in the end (spoiler alert…that should not come as a shock in this case), tonello is blacklisted at hermès. but, at least according to him, that doesn’t happen until he’s already “lost his taste” for the reseller business. personally, i found the timing comically coincidental, and couldn’t help wondering about the order in which the final events in the book actually occurred. but then, it’s his biography…he can play with timelines all he wants.
so, what do you think – will you be adding this “weekend read” to your bookshelf?