Handbags and Accessories

What to Expect when Buying Limited Edition Hermès Birkin & Kelly Bags

By Lindsey Weiss
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Hermès White Matte Niloticus Crocodile Himalaya Birkin Palladium Hardware
Hermès Himalaya Birkin White Matte Niloticus Crocodile Palladium Hardware

The Limited Edition Birkin and Kelly Bag

An Hermès Birkin or Kelly bag is the ultimate handbag for many. Wait lists, patience and strife for the perfect color, size or leather are a common shared experience among Hermès collectors. Along with classic models, Hermès also releases Limited Edition versions of its iconic bags on an irregular basis. Some editions are produced for one season only, like the Cavalcadour Kelly, and some run for years, getting remade into fresh versions repeatedly like the Ghillies collection. Collectors with a penchant for these special bags have to contend with ever higher prices paid on the secondary market right after their release. But almost all limited editions follow a similar pattern. Initially prices can significantly exceed the retail price since there are very few bags in the market and then decline as more of the newest limited editions become available in the secondary market. Prices can decline from the initial peak and remained depressed for approximately 4-6 years before rebounding. The slow decline comes as collectors are satiated and the novelty of the new design wears off. The following climb comes as a result of additional collectors entering the market over time and wanting to acquire archival pieces, or because the design has been out of view for long enough to appear exciting and novel again. Fashion trends and/or celebrities can also drive renewed interest in a previous limited edition bag.

Expect Price Volatility Near Term

Hermès Birkin 25 Metallic Silver and Bronze Chevre Palladium Hardware, 2005

Some limited editions become extremely valuable around 15 years after their production, such as the Metallic Birkin and Kelly bags produced in the early 2000’s, the shearling Teddy Kelly bags from Jean-Paul Gaultier’s runway shows, or the sterling silver mini-Kelly bag produced in the 1990’s and early 2000’s. These bags had been around for over a decade before there was much of an Hermès auction market at all, and their numbers at auction have always been low. Only six metallic Birkins and Kellys have sold at auction over the last decade, the last of which broke the record for a leather handbag at auction achieving $139,230 in April 2022. Only around twice as many Shearling Teddy Kelly bags have sold at auction, making these nearly as rare. Sterling Kelly bags have been known to sell privately for as much as Diamond Himalaya Birkin and Kelly bags.

Long Term Price Appreciation

Hermès Birkin 30 SO BLACK Matte Alligator PVD Hardware, 2011

The So Black collection from Jean-Paul Gaultier's final year at Hermès is a great example of a Limited Edition with a rollercoaster value history. Upon their release, So Black bags were appreciated by dedicated Hermès lovers but overall they were not highly sought after on the secondary market, and declined in value for years. In 2016, around five years after their release, prices started climbing steadily before skyrocketing in 2019. Since then, prices have stabilized, though are still higher than in 2018 and show signs of a continued climb. Prices for exotic So Black bags are back at record levels, though, as the scarcity of these more luxurious examples has become apparent. Sotheby's sold a So Black Matte Alligator Birkin 30 for $160,000 in August 2022.

Hermès Himalaya Birkin 25 White Matte Niloticus Crocodile Palladium Hardware, 2021

In recent years Hermès has produced a number of Limited Editions that have proven extremely scarce on the secondary market such as the Un Point Sur Deux Kelly and the embroidered Birkin Faubourg Tropical. In the years to come, no one knows which Limited Editions will become as valuable as Himalaya bags, but as the expanse of Hermès bags continues to grow and collectors continue to love them, the world created by Birkins and Kellys will only deepen and become more complex and exciting.

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