Handbags & Accessories

Hermès Mini Kelly: Modern Must-Have

By Max Brownawell
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Mini Kelly

Vintage Sellier Mini Kelly 20: The Original Mini

Surprisingly, the original Hermès Mini Kelly was not much of a hit during its debut era. Though beloved by fashion-forward icons like Elizabeth Taylor – who had 3 in her collection – the Mini Kelly was generally too small for most women, especially in a time when big bags reigned supreme. Generally considered a novelty, the Mini Kelly could easily be purchased for under $10,000 in leather, and exotic versions did not command much more. That is, up until 2018, when the new Hermès Mini Kelly 20 first came to auction. Since then, values for these highly collectible vintage bags have galloped along to keep pace with their new mini cousins. Their presence on the market has notably declined, with the average number sold at auction annually plummeting to less than two over the last three years. Today, vintage Mini Kelly bags are extremely hard to find even in regular leather, and it is expected their value will continue to grow in tandem with the new Mini Kelly for years to come. A vintage 1997 Crocodile Rose Bonbon Mini Kelly sold for a record $156,000 in the Art of Collecting Handbags, The Visionary Collection of Joseph Lau.

Hermes Mini Kelly

Retourne Mini Kelly 20: The Most Mythical Bag On The Market

While vintage Sellier Mini Kellys are becoming increasingly scarce on the market, their Retourne sisters have become undeniably mythical. Only six regular leather versions of this style have come to auction in the last seven years, making the Retourne Mini Kelly one of the rarest Hermès bags in existence. The last example of a regular leather 20cm Retourne Kelly to sell at auction was in 2019, and the value of one at auction today would likely be right in line with other coveted Sellier Mini Kelly bags.

Hermes Mini Kelly Price Chart
Hermès Mini Kelly

New Hermès Mini Kelly: The Modern Must-Have Handbag

In the seven years since the Hermès Mini Kelly II was released, it’s auction prices have only gone up. The Mini Kelly sells for $8,000 in Epsom and $8,500 in Chèvre in Hermès boutiques but is selling for multiples of this value on the secondary market. This exciting new rendition of a timeless bag has proven to be a runaway success and smash hit with both experienced and young Hermès collectors. During the first years that these bags appeared at auction they averaged over $15,000, eclipsing the value of vintage Mini Kelly from the start. Since then, prices for all Mini Kelly bags have risen dramatically, with the average auction price in 2021 nearing $29,000. Each season a new record for this style is set and the trend shows no signs of abating. Exotic Mini Kelly bags, though, have not experienced such a clear elevation season over season, with average auction prices varying between $32,000 and $48,000 for ostrich and lizard examples, and between $37,000 and $57,000 for alligator versions. Exotic mini Kelly bags are far rarer than leather ones, and this tremendous scarcity will likely translate into record-breaking auction results in future seasons. A Gris Perle and Kraft Matte Alligator Mini Kelly sold for just over $196,000 in 2022, the most expensive Mini Kelly sold by Sotheby's to date.

Mini Kelly

2023 Mini Kelly Outlook

Demand remains strong for the Hermès Mini Kelly in 2023. Leather "store fresh" bags are selling for around $30,000 on Sotheby's Buy Now Marketplace and sometimes even higher at auction depending on the color and year. A Vert Fizz Mini Kelly sold for $44,100 in December 2022 at auction in New York. While fashion editors and designers have been shifting focus to larger bags, popularity of mini bags remains high. We anticipate more layering of larger bags and totes with mini bags in 2023. The highly anticipated Birkin 20 is also likely to create an even bigger frenzy than the Mini Kelly further fueling mini bag mania.

Hermès Kelly Bags Available For Purchase

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