A Birkin Bag Is Hard to Buy

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But fans of the famed Hermès accessory say that the exclusivity is the whole point.

If you want to buy a Birkin bag, the pièce de résistance from the French luxury retailer Hermès, you should know that you probably can’t.

Vogue delivered this tough-love message to readers in a recent article that described the quest for an Hermès bag as “daunting.” The magazine cautioned that customers “might wait months or years for the right style to become available” and further dashed hopes by noting that “waiting lists at Hermès stores no longer exist.”

The exclusivity of the item is very much part of its appeal — but a pair of California residents who have struck out in their attempts to buy the bags have decided that enough is enough.

On Tuesday, the two shoppers in question, Tina Cavalleri and Mark Glinoga, filed a proposed class action lawsuit against Hermès in San Francisco. In the complaint, they accuse the company of holding back the coveted bag for all but the highest-spending customers, a practice that, the plaintiffs argue, violates antitrust law.

Hermès did not reply to requests for comment.

Ms. Cavalleri, who is identified in the lawsuit as a California resident, is already the owner of at least one Birkin bag, according to the legal complaint. But she was thwarted in her attempt to buy a second.

The lawsuit says that Ms. Cavalleri “has spent tens of thousands of dollars at Hermès, and had been coerced into purchasing” other Hermès items, described as “ancillary products,” before she was given a chance to buy a Birkin bag.

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