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about - birkin

Portero Featured on About.com

How to tell a real from a fake handbag?  About.com asked our Senior Director of Handbags, Elizabeth Bernstein, her authentication process and what to look for when shopping for Hermes Birkins, Chanel Flap Bags, and Louis Vuitton handbags in the secondary marketplace.

 

What’s the hardest brand to authenticate?
For most people in general? Louis Vuitton. Because they’re made out of monogrammed canvas, they have small bits of leather and there are very simple details in terms of putting the bag together. The counterfeit market for Louis Vuitton is huge. (Get more tips in Louis Vuitton Handbags: How to Tell if it’s Real or Fake)

Are you ever stumped?
I can tell by touching these things, smelling them and looking at a few details. I do question very frequently. Sometimes I even bring stuff right to Hermès. If I ever have a doubt about something, at least five other experts are going to look at it with me. You have to be extremely careful in this industry. There is so much counterfeit out there.

How can you tell if an Hermès Birkin bag is authentic?
The details— it’s in the hand stitching, the quality of the hardware, the turn of the toggle. It’s the difference between a Rolls-Royce and an old beat up car. There’s absolutely no comparison. For me with the chevre leather, you can smell it. I may be one of the only people who say that. But it’s goat, it smells like a goat. I know that’s gross, but leather is leather. Hermès smells like an expensive new car. (Get more tips in Hermès Birkin Handbags: How to Tell if it’s Real or Fake)

So you’ve trained your nose over the years?
I can smell a fake bag. If I close my eyes and someone put a real one and a fake one, I would know which one was real. Unless someone came up with a good goat spray.

Are Chanel handbags easy to counterfeit?
It depends on what kind of Chanel it is. The more counterfeit Chanels that I see are tote bags with a big Chanel logo or Chanel written across it. Really not sophisticated Chanel. However, there is a sophisticated counterfeit Chanel market. This is really hard to do. Chanel makes quilted bags. It’s not cheap and it’s not easy to quilt a bag well. You don’t have many of these, but they’re easier to spot. (Get more tips in Chanel Handbags: How to Tell if it’s Real or Fake)

What if a shopper is browsing another handbag website and can only see photos of the handbag instead of seeing it in person?
A lot of the time I will say that I will not do authentication via pictures. I just don’t think it’s the best practice. I think it’s too dicey because of Photoshop. The other thing is, you can buy from a picture that’s a real picture taken of a real bag and then they send you a fake. I don’t recommend people buying bags on the fly from random places.

Any general tips when authenticating a bag?
We always say look at quality first. Every time you look at a luxury bag think, ‘would this have made it through quality control at this luxury brand?’ Generally, you’re going to be able to answer your question. If it’s a lower line like Marc by Marc Jacobs or Michael Kors, keep that in mind, too. If you’re looking at Hermès, Chanel and Louis Vuitton, there’s a reason why they charge the prices they charge. Because they are meticulous about quality control.

What about zippers?
Don’t be fooled by zippers and hardware because at this point you do have counterfeiters who are using zippers that a lot of the large brands use, like Lampo and RiRi. They’re using counterfeit ones or the actual ones, but generally they’re counterfeit. So if you look at a bag and say, ‘oh it has a Lampo zipper, it must be a Prada. I got so lucky it’s only $200’—it’s not enough to look at.

What bag are you carrying now?
I change mine so often. My tried and true is my Hermès 20 cm Rigid Kelly with gold hardware. I always have it refurbished and it keeps getting beat up. I wear it with jeans a lot. I go through Fendi Peekaboos and Prada Saffianos. I just got this amazing vintage blue crocodile tote bag. It’s Lambertson Truex, which is a brand that shut down and their designers went over to Tiffany & Co.

Why buy a pre-owned bag?
Hermès, Chanel and Louis Vuitton all hike their prices every single year. It’s not getting any cheaper. If you’re looking for value, it’s always good to buy vintage. You just have to take care of it. It’s like, you take care of your grandparents, take care of your vintage. (laughs)

(laughs) That’s awesome!
Older people are a little more delicate. [Vintage handbags have] older leather, it’s a little more delicate. You want to be nice to it and treat it well.

johnhardy

Spotlight on John Hardy

In the mid-1970s, 25-year-old Canadian designer/artist and descendant of the Royal Court of Bali goldsmiths, John Hardy, escaped to Bali, where he met his wife Cynthia and established his celebrated namesake jewelry company. Handcrafted and one-of-a-kind, each John Hardy piece is inspired by the natural world’s beauty.

John Hardy’s commitment to the environment and community does not end with fine jewelry. Over the past year, John Hardy has planted 600,000 bamboo trees in Bali to support forest management and water preservation.  Additionally, its Job for Life program continues to successfully transition Bali orphans into the real world with vocational training.  Once the program is completed, many students are offered positions at the John Hardy Bali Compound, which is not only home to beautiful designs and skilled craftsman, but also an organic farm.

Upon retiring in 2007, John Hardy sold the brand to now CEO Damien Dernoncourt and Head Designer and Creative Director Guy Bedarida.  To date, Dernoncourt and Bedarida remain invested in the brand’s core values and devotion to nature and our community.

Shop Portero’s John Hardy collection here.

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A Class All Its Own: Patek Philippe

During the Polish Insurrection of 1830-1831, cavalry officer Antoine Norbert de Patek sought refuge in Geneva, the watchmaking and jewelry capital of the world.  Soon after, Patek partnered with François Czapek, establishing their watch manufacturing company called Patek, Czapek & C° in 1839.  Their first designs demonstrated a strong Polish influence reflective of revolutionary heroes, and 10th and 12th Century legends.

After parting ways with Czapek, Patek joined forces with the French horologist Adrien Philippe following a serendipitous meeting at the Paris Exhibition of the Products of the Industry where Patek exhibited the first keyless watch; a model that was later acquired by Queen Victoria.

To this day, Patek Philippe stands in a class all its own.  Famously known as the last family-owned independent Geneva watch manufacturer, Patek’s continuing dedication to high-quality craftsmanship and service provides the ultimate addition to your collection.

Shop Portero’s Patek Philippe collection here.

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Spotlight on Valentino

From a young age the signature Valentino Red designer, Valentino Garavani, was inspired by the glamour and femininity of silver screen women. After studying in Paris and working at Jean Dessès and Guy Laroche’s salons, Valentino opened his own atelier in Rome 1959. His modern feminine designs consisting of flowers, bows, ruffles, lace, and embroideries combined the romance of French design with the high-quality craftsmanship of Italian design. Valentino quickly caught the eyes of socialites, Hollywood, and Jacqueline Kennedy.

Though Valentino retired in 2008, his relevance is ubiquitous. He continues to be sought after for special commissioned pieces like Anne Hathaway’s wedding gown, and most recently, Princess Madeleine of Sweden’s wedding gown.

Today, Valentino is run under the creative direction of Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli. Their dedication to maintaining the brand’s core values while presenting a sense of modernity continues to illuminate the Valentino brand.

Shop Portero’s Valentino collection here.

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Spotlight on Chloé

Named for a popular French name in 1952, the Chloé brand is both pretty in meaning and beautiful in design.  When Gaby Aghion and her business partner Jacques Lenoir founded Chloé, they longed to establish a luxury bohemian ready-to-wear style – a market that at the time was untapped.

Over the years, the brand has been graced by some of the world’s leading designers including: Karl Lagerfeld, Stella McCartney, Phoebe Philo, and now, Clare Waight Keller.  From Lagerfeld’s retro-inspired prints, McCartney’s youthful beaded string tops, Philo’s romantic dresses, and Waight Keller’s knitwear, each invigorated the brand by highlighting their individual spins, while still maintaining the core bohemian feel.

Shop Portero’s Chloé collection here.

circa

Portero.com is Now Part of the CIRCA Family!

Portero is thrilled to announce our partnership with CIRCA. Founded in 2001, CIRCA is the leading international buyer of fine jewelry, diamonds and watches.   CIRCA’s renowned experts will make you an offer on each and every piece you wish to sell.  Payment is immediate.  It’s that simple.

To celebrate our new partnership, we are launching an exclusive Portero INSIDER program.  Starting April 1st, when you sell jewelry to CIRCA you will gain INSIDER privileges on Portero.com.

Portero INSIDER privileges include:

  • Exclusive discounts and benefits on select merchandise including: Hermès, Chanel, Cartier, Celine, Louis Vuitton, Van Cleef & Arpels, Tiffany & Co, Rolex and more
  • Access to INSIDER-only sales
  • Sneak peek at new arrivals
  • Dedicated INSIDER hotline with a “Find It For Me” specialist

CIRCA has 14 locations across North America, Europe, and Asia with four offices planned to open this year.  CIRCA locations include: Beverly Hills, Boca Raton, Chicago, Greenwich, Las Vegas, New York, Palm Beach, San Francisco, Washington DC, Barcelona, Madrid, and Hong Kong.

To schedule an appointment with CIRCA, please call (877) 876-5493 or click here to get started online: http://www.circajewels.com/contact/

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The Conductor: Balenciaga

In an era of political unrest, Cristóbal Balenciaga’s avant-garde designs sparked the adoration of royals, aristocrats, style icons, and luxury designers such as Christian Dior, who famously said, “Haute couture is like an orchestra, whose conductor is Balenciaga.”

Since 1918, designers alike looked towards Balenciaga as a means to continually revolutionize modern fashion. From waistless chemise dresses to austere evening gowns, it seemed impossible to replace the innovator once he retired in 1968.

For nearly 30-years the brand remained almost dormant. When Nicolas Ghesquière became Creative Director in 1997, he revamped the brand by focusing on the brand’s original goal: to design for strong, trendsetting woman. In November 2012, the trailblazing Alexander Wang was named Creative Director, and to date, continues to transform the fashion world.

Shop Portero’s Balenciaga collection here.

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Discrete Luxury: Bottega Veneta

Never one to follow the leader, Bottega Veneta was founded in 1966 under the motto, “when your own initials are enough.”  With an emphasis on discrete luxury, Bottega Veneta began with a simple yet complex mission: to develop a design that consisted of the highest quality materials, while also being durable and soft.  This pursuit resulted in the renowned intrecciato leather design that quickly became Bottega Veneta’s signature.

Bottega Veneta continues to devote its energy towards innovation and education.  Since the brand was acquired by KERING Luxury Group (formerly Gucci Group) in 2001 and led by Creative Director Tomas Maier, Bottega Veneta has expanded its market to include fine jewelry, furniture, fragrance, ready-to-wear, handbags, eyewear, luggage, and small leather accessories.  They have also focused on developing a school dedicated to training future esteemed artisans.

Shop Portero’s Bottega Veneta collection here.

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Spotlight on Vintage Omega

When Neil Armstrong took his first step onto the moon proclaiming, “This is one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” he leapt with the first and only timepiece to land on the moon, Omega.

In La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland 1848, Louis Brandt founded Omega with the foundation of providing innovative and well-crafted timepieces. Now, Omega stands as the official timekeeper of 21 Olympic Games and the official chronometer for NASA.

Omega has been adored by many leading public figures including President John F. Kennedy and Prince William. The Omega brand has also been sponsored by celebrities and athletes such as George Clooney, Daniel Craig, Nicole Kidman, and Michael Phelps.

Shop Portero’s Omega collection here.

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In Love With LOVE: Spotlight on the Cartier LOVE Series

Audrey Hepburn famously said, “the best thing to hold onto in life is each other.” For thousands of years, cultures around the world have expressed their affections through jewelry. With Valentine’s Day at the forefront of our minds, we celebrate the ones we hold dear with the iconic symbol of love and commitment… the Cartier LOVE series.

Originally only sold to couples, the Cartier LOVE series was inspired by the medieval chastity belt with its lock and tiny screwdriver acting as a key. Today, the Cartier LOVE series is gifted to all in celebration of life’s many milestones, including: birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, and of course, Valentine’s Day.

Shop Portero’s Cartier collection here.

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