The most-searched-for luxury item of 2021 thus far (according to the Lyst index) was the Hermès Kelly bag. The global obsession with Hermès’ two top-tier bags, the Birkin and Kelly, shows no signs of slowing down. It is famously difficult to acquire these bags from the store, and as we know, it is akin to winning the fashion lottery to simply walk into an Hermès store for the first time and leave with one of these coveted gems. So people the world over have been looking to resell websites to get their hands on them instead. The prices are incredibly high, you will pay between 18,000 and 22,000 euros for a brand new Kelly or Birkin on a resell site. They are now seen as investment pieces and collectibles, and the demand far outweighs supply.
It really is remarkable that such classic designs are leading the charge of desirability! In fact, the Kelly, first named “petit sac pour dame” (small bag for ladies), originates back to the 1930s. The style was rebranded the “Kelly” after Grace Kelly of Monaco, was pictured holding the bag to disguise the beginnings of her baby bump in the 1950s. Grace was such a fan of her namesake bag that she rarely carried anything else. I don’t blame her, it is my personal favorite too.
Often referred to as the Holy grail of handbags, the Birkin was designed back in 1983 after Hermès chief executive Jean-Louis Dumas met English actress and French favorite Jane Birkin on a flight where she expressed her inability to find a bag big enough for travel, and thus history was made.
The other main star in the Hermès galaxy is the Constance, with her easy, cross-body style and shining H buckle, she is also considered one of the top tier bags, and therefore extremely difficult to get. I have a real love for vintage ones in deep rich tonal leather or toile fabric—such laid-back 70s glam vibes.
However, fear not, there is far more to the Hermès bag collection than the Birkin, Kelly, and Constance…
One of the recent additions to my bag collection is the Herbag. Often seen as the little sister to the Kelly, and is nicknamed the “Country Kelly.” It is made of fabric and leather and comes in many color combinations. It is a perfect every day on the go-bag. While still difficult to acquire, like all bags from Hermès, it has a much lower price point than the above three bags and is seen by many as the perfect bag to start your Hermès collection.
The 2002. This cross-body is a fabulous alternative to the Constance. Designed in the 1970s as a futuristic design (hence the name), it packs a huge punch style-wise and is a more daring and original choice than the top-tier bags. It comes in many different colors, like all Hermès leather goods. It is also available as a wallet, which has a loop in the back, so you can wear it as a belt bag, so handy and stylish.
The Evelyne. This cross-body bag really reflects the equine history of the brand. It is named after Evelyne Bertrand, former head of Hermès riding department. It was designed to carry grooming equipment and other essentials for the stable. These days it’s a very popular messenger style bag, useful for everyday and travel.
The Verrou Chaine is another knock-out cross-body bag. Originally designed in 1938 by Robert Dumas as a clutch bag. The hardware was designed to resemble the lock and bolt of a horse stall door. It was reintroduced in 2010, and after seeing the chic black and gold combination on Jennifer Aniston recently in the Friends reunion show, It has shot up on my wish list! It has a much more cool, edgy vibe than the constance and could be a great option if you’re looking for something a little bit different and less traditional.
24/24. You can really see the Kelly/ Birkin inspiration in this design, it has the ease of the Birkin with the style of the Kelly. An ideal workhorse bag and, like the name suggests, takes you from day to night. It comes in leather and fabric options. I love the slouchy easy-ness, yet practicality and simple elegance of this bag. It is particularly stunning in the grey and etoupe colors. Really the ideal bag if you can’t access a Kelly or Birkin.
The Mini roulis is yet another cross-body option. Her simple hardware is available in gold or palladium, which is typical for Hermès. It is chic, laid back, and elegant. For the person who likes to have quality and fly under the radar without obvious logos. I really love this bag in the classic Hermès gold color with gold hardware.
Like most items from Hermès, The Picotin bag’s design is equine in nature. The inspiration came from Argentinian cowboys during the designer’s trip to South America. The design is based on the nosebags horses wore to feed and walk. It’s an open bucket style bag, easy and slouchy. The Picotin has a lovely classic Hermes lock that folds over the sides of the bag to give it a little bit of extra interest.
The Lindy is a unique and practical bag, designed in 1992, its handles are on the shorter ends of the bag, not horizontally like most other bags, creating a casual, slouchy, folded-in feeling. It’s one of Hermè’s most popular bags due to its unusual silhouette and ease of use.
The Bolide, named after the word meteor and also fast cars in French, was designed in 1923 for a friend of the designer who loved automobiles. This classic shape is a real staple of the house and is a super practical bag for everyday use and travel. It’s really cute and less traditional-looking in the mini size.
The good news is that while still difficult to buy, due to their handmade fabrication and limited supply, these styles are more readily available to new customers, and therefore easier to get than the elusive top three bags, Birkin, Kelly, and Constance, and in my opinion, are just as unique, beautifully made, and special.
All Hermès bags come in a variety of leathers (including exotics), colors and sizes, and are handmade by artisans. This is what makes their designs so popular and why they stand the test of time. They will last you a lifetime and can even be sent to the Hermès spa to be brought back to life after you’ve enjoyed them a little too much! For me, this is the true epitome of luxury, something to enjoy and be passed down to future generations. A breath of fresh air just now when we are inundated with the excess of modern fashion.
As fashion lovers worldwide go crazy trying to secure a Birkin, Kelly, or Constance, it’s very much worth trying another style, you might find your perfect piece and will stand out from the fashion crowd.
Text by Pamela McKillop
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