Idol Chatter

Widely prized, legendarily elusive, and outrageously expensive, the Hermès Birkin bag possesses a mythic stature. In his new book, Bringing Home the Birkin (William Morrow, $25.95), Michael Tonello, cofounder of Boston-based advertising collaborative Team, proves you don’t have to be married to Tom Cruise to snag a $25,000 It bag—or to resell it on eBay.

You say the bag’s fabled two-year wait list is, in fact, a fable. So how do you get your hands on a Birkin? Money talks. Then money talks some more. If you spend $1,000 on something else at Hermès first, the bags magically appear. Between September and Christmas 2004, I purchased and resold 130 or 140 Birkins.

Didn’t Hermès catch on to your game? I had a half-dozen credit cards, all with slightly different names. But there were still a few stores where I became persona non grata.

It was rumored that an advance copy of your book went for nearly $1,000 on eBay. It seems you took luxury marketing techniques to heart. We gave out press copies in a Birkin-shaped box because we wanted to put the book on par with the Hermès brand. I’m trying to get it into the hands of celebs. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that word of mouth fuels itself.