I think we should get back to the topic of wallets. With that in mind, this was a statement that never really got addressed and it might help us to take a closer look at the value of an Hermes wallet, not in terms of monetary value, but with respect to quality, durability, function, and overall enjoyment.
Originally Posted by Made in California
Actually you mentioning that book brings up a good point, and I think a point of this thread that we haven't talked enough about yet. I believe Dana notes that there's really only two brands in the whole industry whose quality lives up the name and that you could rate a 5.0/5.0: Hermès and Chanel. Since he's already looking at Hermès we can assume OP's decided that he wants a great wallet and is willing to spend a good amount on it. I think this begs two questions:
- Is there another brand, at any price, that's quality is on par with Hermès that OP should seriously consider? (He's already said he does not live in an area where getting it custom is an option)
- If the Hermès wallet truly isn't worth the money, why not? (i.e. it's going to wear out in 5 year anyways, poor customer support, etc.)
Looking at the first quesiton, I think its tough to find another brand that might offer the same level of workmanship, hand made construction, and quality. Most companies using machine made stitches and/or glue rather than a double saddle stitch. Also, the skins Hermes uses are flawless. My wife has 3 Hermes handbags, and she has handbags from the usual suspects such as Chanel, LV, Prada, Gucci, Ferragamo, Kieselstein-Cord, and others, and maybe with the exception of the Chanel, the others seem to pale in comparison. I've seen remnants of glue on Ferragamos and Guccis, and the insides on some LV's are a cheap looking cloth (only a few are lined in leather). Granted there are differences between wallets and handbags, but I tend to think if a company takes short cuts on bigger items they probably take short cuts on most of their products. Still one does pay a premium for Hermes products even when compared to Chanel. Whether its worth it is something I think each consumer has to determine for himself/herself.
As for the second question, as mentioned above each consumer has to determine whether its worth it to spend for an Hermes product. As to durability and customer service, those can be tough to measure unless lots of people have owned these products and can give feedback. Also, durability varies based on how rough owners are on their wallets, and also when we talk about durability, does it necessarily mean its falling apart, or it does it include it just looks beaten up and not so nice anymore but its still functional?
Years ago I worked for a mid range leather goods company that made briefcases, wallets, and handbags. In terms of durabilty, one of the largest problems we saw was people overstuffing wallets, which stress the seams, sometimes causing seams to split, stitches come undone, stretching and marring leather, and eventually the wallets just look like crap. Still, even if a wallet isn't overstuffed, and its well taken care of (using leather conditioners to keep the leather supple and from drying out, which I don't do, and I'm sure almost nobody else does), they rarely still look good after 2-3 years of daily use, but they will still be functional.
As for customer service, we've never had to have an Hermes product repaired. But I've seen the work area in one of the NYC boutiques and there are large swatches of everything from calfskin to aligator hanging and ready to be used to repair their products. I have no idea how costly it is to fix their products. I think the only customer service interaction my family has had in recent years was with LV. My wife, had been overstuffing her wallet and when we brought it in, they said they could not fix the stitching. It should be noted it was just a small amount that was coming undone. My father bought an ostritch wallet from a high end men's clothing store in Boston and when the stitching came out, they had it repaired and I don't think they event charged him for the repair. That was a men's clothing store and not a place specializing in producing leather goods/wallets. I would have thought LV could at least make the repairs as they specialize in the production of leather goods, wallets, etc. My experiece when I worked in a leather goods store was that as long as the leather was kept supple, and it was not dried out or cracked, we could almost always get the bag or item repaired. Therefore, I was surpised that LV couldn't or wouldn't do anything with my wife's wallet. I wondered if it was just a slow day and they wanted to sell my wife a new one.