Thanks to her candid commentary, wellness advice and fashion tips, Madison Rae has amassed a dedicated following on social media. The mom of two regularly posts where she finds her duds. But there's one item that she is dying to get her hands on: a Hermes bag. And she recently shared on Instagram just how crazy the process is to buy one.
The influencer traveled to Paris for a friend's bachelorette party and detailed a crazy few days of trying to get an appointment at one of the three Hermes stores in the French capital. The process started long before her visit and the search continues.
"I'm definitely a bag girl," Rae tells SI Swimsuit. "I was always into Chanel but kept seeing the Kelly bag by Hermes posted and started to explore that world. I quickly realized it's completely a game to get one."
The New York City-based influencer started watching YouTube videos and following Instagram accounts dedicated to the inner workings of Hermes. She learned that the markup on resale bags was at least double. So a bag that costs around $9,000 in-store sells for about $20,000 resale. And the smaller the bag, the higher the markup. Then just buy one in-store, right? Unfortunately, it's not that simple.
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In New York, she explains, you have to build a relationship with a sales associate and develop a purchase history before even being considered for a bag. Then, once you've established a profile, you give the sales contact a list of what you want, and eventually you will be called and offered one of the bags.
"You have to say yes, even if it's your third choice, because they might not offer you a bag ever again," she adds.
But what the fashion lover also learned was that the rules in Europe were different. "In my research, I learned that buying a Hermes bag in Paris is cheaper, you don't need a purchase history, and you don't have to pay tax," Rae says.
So, when the bachelorette party in Paris came up, she figured she'd give it a shot. But it was a lot of legwork, as you can imagine.
"In Paris, online applications begin at 10:30 p.m., and they contact you saying if you got an appointment or not by 8:30 a.m. the next morning," she says. "One of the sales associates who worked there told me that they get about 5,000 applications a day, and about 150 people are selected. So I applied four times, and I got rejected all four times."
But Rae also heard that you could go to the stores and see if there had been any cancellations. So she went to all three stores every single day, at least once a day. The closest one she visited 15 times and got denied every single time. On her very last try, Rae got a walk-in appointment. But just because you get a leather goods appointment does not mean that you get a bag. That's just getting past Stage 1.
"So after Stage 1, you meet with a sales associate, and they bring you upstairs and ask, 'What can I help you with?'" says Rae. "I watched YouTube videos on this, too. They'll ask you what you're looking for. So my lady sat me down, and she asked me what I was looking for. I told her a Mini Kelly, and she immediately told me that there were no Mini Kellys available. So, then I told her the next one that I wanted, which is a 25 Kelly in black or bamboo."
"I had learned that they'd go away for 20 minutes, “ she adds. “If they come back with a small box, you're not getting offered a bag. If they come back with a bunch of big boxes and ask you to follow them, then you're being offered something close to what you want."
Rae's sales associate came back 20 minutes later with a small box, so she knew she wasn't getting a bag. But, while certainly disappointed, she loved sharing her insight to her thousands of followers who followed the crazy journey asking questions along the way.
"It was all very confusing," says Rae. "It's like a whole world I didn't even know existed. And I am someone who loves fashion! So this is opening up my eyes up. It's such a game."
The influencer will try the American way by building up a purchase history and relationship with the New York City Hermes store as her fans continue to tag along.