Hermès is accused of violating antitrust law by selling Birkins only to “worthy” customers.

A new class action lawsuit in California accuses Hermès of violating antitrust law by selling its iconic luxury Birkin handbag only to customers with sufficient purchasing history for other items.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in San Francisco on Tuesday, alleges that the retail partners push customers to purchase additional Hermès products — merchandise available to the public for purchase, such as scarves, jewelry, shoes and home goods — for a chance to purchase the exclusive products. purpose.

“Ordinarily, only those consumers who are deemed worthy of purchasing a Birkin handbag will have the Birkin handbag displayed (in a private room). The selected consumer will be given the opportunity to purchase the specific Birkin handbag that is offered to him or her,” the lawsuit says, adding that customers cannot Then order a different Birkin handbag that might suit their preferences better.

Hermès encourages sales associates to take advantage of the exclusivity of the bag — which the lawsuit describes as a “fashion icon” — and exploit the possibility of its selection to drive purchases of other items.

“These sales associates are directed by Defendants to offer Birkin bags only to consumers who have established a sufficient ‘purchase history’ or ‘purchase file’ with Defendants’ additional products such as shoes, scarves, belts, jewelry and household goods.” The suit says.

“Only once a consumer has sufficient purchase history or purchasing profile with Defendants will the consumer be given the opportunity to purchase a Birkin handbag,” the lawsuit continued.

The Hill has reached out to Hermès for comment.

The class action lawsuit was filed by two plaintiffs seeking class action status for what they say are “thousands of members” who were allegedly harmed by similar alleged practices. One plaintiff “spent tens of thousands of dollars at Hermès and was forced to purchase ancillary products in order to access Hermès Birkin bags.”

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When this plaintiff wanted to purchase a second Birkin handbag, according to the lawsuit, he was told that the specialty bags would go to “customers who have been consistent in supporting our business.”

The second plaintiff tried several times to buy a Birkin handbag but was “told on each occasion that he needed to purchase other goods and accessories.”

The class action lawsuit asks the court to prohibit Hermès from engaging in the alleged actions. It is also seeking an unspecified amount of monetary damages and damages to be awarded.

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