The Birkin Man

Meet the man that cracked the code to acquiring the world’s most coveted handbag

The Birkin Man
Meet the man that cracked the code to acquiring the world’s most coveted handbag

Michael Tonello
Author Michael Tonello

After more than 20 years, the iconic Birkin bag by Hermès remains so exclusive that even the rich and famous put their names on a two-year waiting list to get their hands on one. Enter Michael Tonello, an American expatriate living in Barcelona. Strapped for cash, he stumbled upon the secret to buying Birkins and became one of eBay’s most successful entrepreneurs—delivering genuine bags on demand to eager customers around the world. FLARE.com chats with Tonello about cracking the code and why the bags remain such a hot commodity.

How did you manage to crack the code to acquiring a Birkin bag?
It was purely by accident after several failed attempts at getting a Birkin.

Have you shared this secret with anyone?
Yes, I had a few “shoppers” that bought Birkins for me around the planet and I taught each of them “the formula” and they used it quite successfully. [Read about the formula in Tonello’s book, Bringing Home The Birkin]

Do you foresee the Birkin bag being replaced by another hot-ticket bag?
No, not in the immediate future—all other companies make their bags available to anyone who wants one. This is not the case with the Birkin and this inaccessibility is what makes the bag so coveted.

Where do you think the publics obsession with the Birkin bag stems from?
It’s been seen on so many arms of famous people and numerous television shows but at the same time most people have never seen a Birkin in person, or touched one (never mind carried one).

Do you think the bag is worth the chase?
If you are a “fashionista” it is the ultimate symbol of style/wealth and perhaps achievement.

Describe your all-time favourite Birkin bag (colour, style, size, material, etc.)
The pale pink croc Birkin (35cm) with silver hardware that a client had me special-order for her to match a specific shade of pink in an Hermes scarf.

What is your most off-the-wall adventure in getting your hands on a Birkin?
The entire “cat ‘n’ mouse” game i played out in Athens, Greece. I felt like i was a character in a novel (laughs).

What is the most outlandish “favour” a client has done for you to ensure their Birkin-wish was met?
Loaning me their extraordinary Palm Beach mansion for a week. I checked out the house on Zillow.com and it was worth tens of millions of dollars!

What is the most expensive Birkin you have sold?
It was a 35cm croc Birkin in a shade of yellow, it sold for about $48,000.

Who bought it?
Someone we’ve all seen on the cover of magazines more than once. I can’t share her name for privacy purposes.

Where did you find it?
In Germany

Who was the most obsessed Birkin collector you have encountered?
I had a client whose husband was the president or CEO of a fortune top 50 company. She bought Birkins like most people buy toilet paper.

Do you think you’ll be in the buying/selling industry forever? What are your future plans?
I’m done Birkin’ng. It was great fun and truly a rollercoaster ride but exhausting at the same time. We have an option on my book for a film and I’ve written a children’s book based on my two cats, Gala and Dali. I also have an idea for another book I’d like to write.

You’re now in the vibrant city Barcelona. Describe your daily life in Spain.
Most mornings I go to the boqueria (the farmers market, which is just up the street from my home), to buy that evenings dinner. The boqueria is on Las Ramblas, Barcelona’s famous pedestrian walkway, and it’s great fun seeing thousands of people from all over the world experiencing the beauty and quirkiness that is Barcelona. I truly believe that Barcelona is the new Paris!

to read a review on Bringing Home The Birkin

Zdenka Turecek