The Definitive Guide to Buying Hermes Bags

The Definitive Guide to Buying Hermes Bags - BOPF | Business of Preloved Fashion

The History of the Hermes Bag

For nearly a century, Hermes bags have been handmade in France to the highest aesthetic standards. The company's heritage of independence, creativity, and practicality is expressed through beautiful materials and meticulous craftsmanship. Artisans train for years, learning how to cut, shape, and sew the finest premium leathers and exotic skins in a rainbow of colors, textures, grains, and finishes. It takes a single artisan 12 to 18 hours to stitch a purse together with a double-needle saddle stitch, just as harnesses were sewn in Thierry Hermes’ Parisian workshop in 1837. The Hermes Birkin, Hermes Kelly, and Hermes Constance are sometimes called the “holy trinity” of Hermes bags, while the Hermes Evelyne and Hermes Jige exemplify ease and simplicity. As time goes by, Hermes renames, redesigns, and re-releases each model to serve contemporary tastes, yet the bags remain timeless and true to their essence. These useful, elegant, and beloved personal keepsakes incorporate virtuosity, scarcity, and artistry, touched with a bit of celebrity stardust. Their emotional value and mystique translate into desirability and high demand. Consequently, Hermes bags fetch a pretty penny.


Getting an Hermes Bag

Demand for Hermes Bags

Since Hermes bags are produced one at a time and in limited supply, they are always coveted. In recent years, classics like the Hermes Birkin and Hermes Kelly have become increasingly popular with celebrities and the super-rich. Anyone with means can acquire a Hermes bag, but it’s far more challenging to get a bag you love that’s right for you.

Research Your Bag

The emotional connection and story of each Hermes bag contribute to its worth. It’s important to choose your bag based on your taste so that it will be your treasure, not just an expensive trophy. Although certain sizes, colors, and models come into fashion from time to time, it's never a mistake to purchase your favorite model in a size and color that complements your personal style. Black, tan, and taupe are especially wearable, but a bright primary color can also be classic. Pick a bag that suits your persona, body type, and mode of life.

Know Your Bag

Hermes produces dozens of variations on the handbag, but these styles are perennially popular.


Hermes Kelly (1956,1977)

In the 1930s, Hermès created the single-handle Sac-à-Depêches in a modern, sleek trapezoid shape. When Grace Kelly, Princess of Monaco, was photographed holding the bag in 1956, it caused quite a stir. In 1977, the bag was renamed the Hermes Kelly in her honor. This dressy purse is one of the most popular bags in the Hermes line. It is currently offered in 25 cm, 28 cm, 32 cm, 35 cm, 40 cm, and 50 cm sizes, and now comes in clutch and mini versions inspired by the original.


Hermes Constance (1967)

Designer Catherine Chaillet named the Hermes Constance after her newborn daughter. Released in 1967, the bag became a staple in Hermès’s collection once it caught the eye of American First Lady Jackie Kennedy. The Constance is polished yet urban with its flap top, adjustable shoulder strap, and a spring-loaded "H" buckle closure. Its single or double gussets create a slim, precise silhouette. Although many sizes have been released, the 23 cm, 25 cm, and 29 cm bags are only available in the vintage market. Current versions include the 14 cm and 18 cm micro and mini bags; the 24 cm bag; the 25 cm Elan; and the 29 cm Constance Cartable. Artistic limited-edition versions feature scarf prints and patchwork embellishments in exotic skins.


Hermes Jige (1975)

First offered in 1975, the Hermes Jige is a simple rectangular envelope clutch with an emblematic H strap closure that secures the top flap. It’s an instantly recognizable, slim, minimalist purse with a single open compartment that grants easy access to everyday essentials. The Jige is crafted from neutral and brightly colored leathers, canvas, and exotic skins in simple or complex color and material combinations. Two basic shapes define the silhouette. The 29.5 cm and 34 cm models are more squared-off, while the 29 cm and 35 cm Elan models are elongated. Leather versions of the Jige are readily available at Hermes boutiques; exotic leather variants may be more difficult to locate.


Hermes Evelyne (1978)

In 1978, Evelyne Bertrand designed the Hermès Evelyne bag as a carryall for horse groomers. In the mid-2000s, Hermes released the style as an entry-level bag for men and women. This crossbody bag is suitable for daytime casual ensembles and streetwear looks. It works well as a brightly colored statement piece or as a versatile everyday bag in a neutral color, and is perfect for weekend coffee or brunch. The Evelyne is available in 16 cm, 29 cm, 33 cm, and 40 cm sizes.


Hermes Birkin (1984)

The Hermès Birkin may be the most famous and beloved of all the handbag models the company offers. It was created for British actress Jane Birkin in 1984 after she found herself sitting next to Jean-Louis Dumas, Executive Chairman of Hermès, on a flight from Paris to London. Since she couldn't find a suitable bag for her needs as a young mother, he created a spacious carryall with two handles, a burnished flap, saddle stitching, and a pocket for necessities. Despite its exquisite craftsmanship, the Hermes Birkin is a less structured bag meant to be used daily. The smallest version measures 25cm, and the bag is also made in larger 30 cm, 35 cm, and 40 cm styles.

The Price of an Hermes Bag

If you buy a new Hermes Birkin directly from the boutique, prices start at $9750 for the smallest size. “Never-worn” legacy bags can be even more expensive depending on demand. Crocodile Birkins finished with gold and diamond hardware have sold for over $300,000 at auction, where top collectors compete for extremely rare bags. In today's resale market, a well-kept Hermes bag can fetch up to double its original price. Since Hermes bags are wanted, rare, and difficult to source, there is a premium on being able to see and attain one instantly from anywhere, no matter who you may be. One can find lovely bags in beautiful colors priced from around $10,000 for a Constance, $23,000 for a Birkin, and $27,000 for a Kelly. Many Hermes bags are considered to be "investment pieces". Like art, wristwatches, and other unique collectibles, they have primary and secondary market value. Well-maintained bags in perfect condition are highly collectible. Rare, limited-edition models with precious metal hardware in unusual or discontinued colors will retain and sometimes appreciate in desirability and value.

Take Care as You Search

An Hermes bag is a prize you will keep and use for years. Even if you choose to pass it on, trade, or resell it, the bag should be right for you. It’s worth waiting for a suitable model. Beware of a bargain; a low-cost bag could be damaged, fake, or have some other issue that diminishes its value.

Buying a New Bag from an Hermes Boutique

If you love the experience and cachet of visiting a Hermes boutique, consider buying your bag in shop. Consult a sales expert for advice. Hermes no longer has waiting lists, but you must receive an invitation to buy a bag. Each boutique has a unique selection and typically provides little information about what might be available to purchase at any given moment. It could take months or even longer for the right style to become available. Hermès customers who make frequent purchases and develop a strong relationship with a sales associate may have better odds of securing the perfect bag.

Buying a Vintage Hermes Bag from a Reputable Source

Reputable auction houses and luxury resale vendors, including Business of Preloved Fashion (BOPF), can help you source the Hermes bag of your dreams. You can find stunning red ostrich and black crocodile Birkins here, or take home a classic Kelly bag in an of-the-moment 25 cm size. They even have a never-worn Constance To Go bag in a gorgeous green-grey shade. Knowledgeable experts offer private appointments and can help you source the right model.

Enjoy Your Hermes Bag

When you are shopping for your Hermes bag, the most important thing is to enjoy the process of acquiring a unique, handcrafted treasure that you will cherish for years to come. The more knowledgeable you are about the size, style, hardware, color, and material of the bag you want, the better your chances of finding the ultimate bag for you.

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