Handbags & Accessories

Perfect for Summer: The Canvas Birkin or Kelly Bag

By Lindsey Weiss
Shop Hermes Birkin and Kelly Bags ; Available for Immediate Purchase

Canvas Birkins and Kelly Bags

Canvas might seem like an odd choice for what has become known as the most valuable bag in the world, but at Hermès, all materials are treated with equal reverence and respect. Hermès Birkin and Kelly bags with beige ‘Toile' bodies have been produced for decades, along with versions in ‘Officier’ canvas that have a tighter weave and come in different colors. Toile GM is a more recent canvas that takes the classic Toile and magnifies it to highlight the weave. Other solid canvases like Criss and Burlap are found primarily on HACs, and the new Toile Goeland is used for Cargo Birkin bags. Panama is canvas adjacent, woven from straw and prone to permanent damage if the straw is broken. Hermès Denim Birkin and Kelly bags have experienced a resurgence of popularity as the 1990’s and early 2000’s come back into style. The new Quadrille canvas Birkin and Kelly bags have started to emerge from Hermès’ workshops in new and exciting colors. But what gets Hermès collectors really excited are the printed canvas bags, of which there are many variations to collect.

Hermès Potamos Canvas and Black Box Calf Birkin 30 Bags

Potamus Birkins

Hermès Potamus Birkin bags, which date from 2006-2007, were produced in four colors: Orange, Burgundy, Blue and Red, each with black box leather trim. Potamus Birkin bags can be found in 35 and 30cm sizes, and rarely surface as JPG Shoulder Birkin bags. Hermès Potamus Kelly bags are far less common than Birkin bags and were produced in 35 and 32cm retourne sizes. Sometimes spelled Potamos, neither translates in French, but in Latin and Greek the terms mean Drink and River respectively.

Hermès Toile De Camp Lettres Au Carré and Black Swift Kelly 28 Retourné Palladium Hardware, 2018

Lettre Au Carre Kelly

In 2018, along with their more well-known leather Lettre Kellys, Hermès released another version, a 28cm Retourne example with printed Toile de Camp featuring the entire Lettre geometric alphabet in black and red. Topped with Black Swift leather, the Lettres au Carre Kelly is much harder to find than its all-leather Lettre cousins.

Hermès Flag Birkin 40 Fauve, Ficelle and Blue Thalassa Toile and Barenia Permabrass Hardware

Flag Birkin

Hermès Flag Birkin bags, which were produced in either 35 or 40cm, feature a bold stripe of colored canvas running down the front of the bag. Topped with Barenia leather, Hermès Flag Birkin bags were produced in three colorways: Beige with either orange or blue center stripes in 2013 and 2014 and navy with a blue stripe which launched in 2015 and was made into 2016. This Flag motif was also produced in HACs, though Flag Kellys are different, featuring a similar central stripe, but in all-leather construction and different colors. The bold design is meant to evoke sailing signals, making the lightweight canvas construction ideal for life on deck.

Hermès Toile de Camp Cavalcadour and Noir Swift Kelly 32 Sellier Palladium Hardware, 2017

Cavalcadour Kelly

The Calvacadour Kelly is one of Hermès’ most colorful printed canvas bags. Produced exclusively as a 32cm Sellier Kelly between 2016 and 2018, this design is particularly special for its rear exterior slip pocket, which is only found on one other modern Kelly edition: the Berline. The design features multi-color belts and buckles printed on Toile de Camp and trimmed with black Swift leather.

Available for Immediate Purchase

Stay informed with Sotheby’s top stories, videos, events & news.

Receive the best from Sotheby’s delivered to your inbox.

By subscribing you are agreeing to Sotheby’s Privacy Policy. You can unsubscribe from Sotheby’s emails at any time by clicking the “Manage your Subscriptions” link in any of your emails.

More from Sotheby's