Why We Love It: Your Ultimate Guide to the Collectible Handbag

Why We Love It: Your Ultimate Guide to the Collectible Handbag

Sotheby’s global digital luxury destination Buy Now expands to Asia, beginning with a two-week showcase of more than 40 rare and most sought-after handbags. Here is your guide to the exquisite curation.
Sotheby’s global digital luxury destination Buy Now expands to Asia, beginning with a two-week showcase of more than 40 rare and most sought-after handbags. Here is your guide to the exquisite curation.

T o celebrate the launch of Buy Now – Sotheby’s bespoke global digital luxury destination – in Asia, Sotheby’s will stage “Sotheby’s En Route”, a two-week exhibition showcasing more than 40 rare and exceptional Hermès handbags, Chanel’s CC In Love Heart Belt Bag, and more, all of which are available for immediate purchase. Taking place from 3 – 16 December at Pacific House in Central, Hong Kong’s luxury district, the exhibition is this season’s not-to-miss event. Catering to a new cross-collecting era, the expansion of Sotheby’s Buy Now in Asia responds to the increasingly sophisticated purchasing habits of local collectors and will provide a fresh collecting experience to a new generation of collectors for acquiring and selling the world’s most desirable collectibles from all over the globe.

With so much to discover, here we present the ultimate guide to the collectible handbags in this exhibition and just why we have fallen in love with them. Scroll down and let us help you find the perfect handbag to add to your collection.


Why We Love It: The Hermès Birkin are timeless purses. Designed for the independent women, the classic trapezoid body is bold, timeless and practical. Nothing could be more closely linked to sophistication and elegance.

Why We Love It: Like its namesake mountain range, the Hermès Himalayans sits atop the world of handbags. Its delicate white to grey ombré mimics the snow-capped summits, bringing to mind the majestic chain of peaks that separates the Indian subcontinent from the rest of Asia. Due to Hermès’s gradation dyeing process, it should be noted that each bag’s gradation is unique to its own, making it all the more covet. Highly sought after and a true rare find, the Hermès Himalayans continue to be the Holy Grail in any aficionado’s collection.


Why We Love It: As the name suggests, the Birkin 3-in-1 can be carried in three different style: in the classic Birkin look; as a light clutch bag with the pouch removed; and the flapless Birkin itself can be used as a spacious tote bag.

Why We Love It: The dramatic yet understated Shadow Birkin was first introduced in 2009 by Jean Paul Gaultier, re-released 21 years later in a smaller size. Gaultier made his mark on the house by reinterpreting classic styles in contemporary ways. For the Shadow, he sought to create a trompe-l’oeil effect through the illusion of a top flat and sangles, shown casually strewn. In reality, the design is a raised impression, making it the only Birkin to stray from the traditional structure.



Why We Love It: Another Hermès icon, the Kelly was originally introduced as the Sac à dépêches in 1935, the bag’s popularity quickly skyrocketed after Princess of Monaco and actress Grace Kelly was spotted using one to shield her baby bump from the paparazzi – earning its name “the Kelly bag”. To this day, each Kelly bag is made from 680 hand stitches, 36 leather pieces, 16 studs and the signature clochette, lock and keys, taking anywhere between 18 to 25 hours to produce.

Why We Love It: The limited edition Padded Kelly was inspired by the automobile industry, specifically the quilted interiors of vintage cars. Using the house’s traditional Saddle Stitching technique, the leather on the Padded Kelly is raised and embossed, accentuating the contours of the Kelly bag, creating a soft and plump look.

Why We Love It: The Kelly Danse is a more casual Kelly bag and can be worn six different ways: as a clutch, cross body, shoulder, around the waist, wristlet or as a backpack. The Kelly Danse II is rare find and is increasing in popularity with Hermès collectors. Originally designed by Jean Paul Gaultier and released in 2008, the bag was discontinued in 2013 and then reintroduced in 2019. The Kelly Danse is very lightweight, has no zippers and its slim profile makes this the perfect casual Kelly bag.

Why We Love It: As mini bags continue to cement their place in the fashion world, it is clear that bigger isn’t always better! The Mini Kelly II 20 is a modern reinterpretation of a timeless style, appreciated by collectors for its simplicity and elegance in design. Released in 2016, Mini Kelly II 20s in bright exotics are highly sought after, with matte finishes surging in popularity in recent years. Sourced from locations like Zimbabwe and Australia, Hermès uses only the finest materials to create their exotic bags. In October 2022, Sotheby's sold a custom Gris Perle and Kraft Matte Alligator Mini Kelly for over HK$1,500,000, a price usually only Himalayans could achieve.


In & Out

Why We Love It: Released at the end of 2021, the In & Out comes in the Birkin and Kelly, featuring an x-ray inspired design revealing an imaginary peek as to what is hiding in the bag’s interior compartments. Hermès products illustrated on the front of this bag include the classic chaine d’ancre bracelet, a clochette keyholder in an exotic skin, a Hermès Citron Tutti Frutti pochette, and an Hermès lipstick. The In & Out is also the first limited edition bag featuring a navy interior box and a dust bag with a navy Hermès logo and drawstrings.



Why We Love It: Rendered from Osier Wicker, the Picnic editions are the only bags that require two highly skilled craftsmen to create – a saddler for the leather, and a basket weaver for the body. Whereby the strands of wicker are kept whole, the Swift leather is attached using a technique of lacing and knots. While Hermès has long used wicker for their other products, it was not until 2011 did Jean-Paul Gaultier introduce it into a bag. A decade after the material’s first release, the Picnic Birkin made its debut, adding an innovative twist to the classic Birkin look.



Why We Love It: On his trip from France to America, Emile-Maurice Hermès, the grandson of Thierry Hermès, founder of the Maison, visited Henry Ford’s automobile factory. It was there that he learnt about the zipper and its mechanisms, which later inspired him to incorporate it in the production of Hermès leather goods in 1923. The Bolide became the first handbag ever to have a zipper closure, making it perfect for travel.



Why We Love It: In Hermès parlance, BKC is a term many collectors are familiar with, referring to the holy trinity of handbags: the Birkin, Kelly and Constance. No collection is complete without examples of all three. The Hermès Constance has been around a few decades longer than the Birkin. Designed for shoulder or crossbody use, Constances sport a bold H-clasp at the front and are most commonly found in 18 or 24 cm sizes.


Mini Roulis

Why We Love It: Speaking of mini bags, the Hermès Roulis is a modern handbag with a luxurious yet discreet design. The square shoulder bag features a sleek jewel clasp that secures the front flap. The flap opens to a spacious interior divided into three compartments. The clasp itself is a reference to Hermès’ classic Chaîne d’Ancre link design. Originally released as a bracelet in 1938, the Chaîne d’Ancre style was inspired by the chains of ship anchors. The ship served as a symbol of progress and innovation for the Hermès designer, and later CEO, Robert Dumas. The Roulis handbag proudly bears this heritage. Launched as part of the Hermès 2011 Spring / Summer Collection, this bag can be found in a variety of leathers and hardwares. The Roulis is available in a mini 18 and a larger 23 cm size.



Why We Love It: The Hermés Picotin Lock bag is a contemporary ode to the equestrian roots of Hermés. In 2002, the fashion house launched the bucket-style handbag modelled after a horse’s feed bag. The name Picotin, pronounced “Pee-Co-Tuh”, references the unit of measure used to portion out a horse’s daily ration of oats. Best described as functional and easy, the Hermés Picotin keeps up with the busy on-the-go lifestyle. With a simple closure and spacious interior, the Picotin will be a minimalist’s best friend and ultimate day bag.



Why We Love It: While created under the helm of Jean-Paul Gaultier in 2006, the Lindy came to fruition through the observations of Frédéric Vidal, who noticed handbags most commonly have handles that are parallel to the body of the bag, causing the average handbag wearer to specifically position their arm to keep the bag parallel to their body. As such, Vidal designed the Lindy to allow the wearer to keep their body in a natural position, with the handle orientation specifically designed to be perpendicular to the body of the bag, giving the bag its iconic atypical shape. The Lindy comes in many sizes including 26, 30, 34, and 45 cm. More recently, Hermès debuted a new 20 cm mini Lindy with their FW 2019 show. The smaller sizes are the most sought after and hardest to come across.



Why We Love It: Crafted with buttery and supple Milo Lambskin, this limited edition Galop bag was a homage to the maison’s equestrian heritage. Modelled after the silhouette of an actual horse’s head, the Galop bag is playful yet innovative, a testament to the fashion house’s continuous commitment to master craftsmanship and genius creativity. Part bag, part object d’art the Galop could also double as a decorative piece for the home, offering its collectors a taste of Hermès’ art of living.


Minuit Au Faubourg

We Why Love It: Debuted on the FW 2020 runway, this Minuit au Faubourg bag is crafted in smooth Niloticus lizard, which can be identified by a “-“ sign and is considered to be one of Hermés’ most delicate skins, easily differentiable by its smaller scales when compared to its exotic counterparts. Inspired by vintage Hermès designs, the Minuit au Faubourg adds a modern touch by featuring a patented circular mechanical clasp, inspired by the world of watchmaking, encased behind a sapphire crystal window.


Chanel Flap Bag | Chanel In Love Heart Belt Bag

Why We Love It: The Chanel Mini Flap was released in 2010 and quickly became one of the most desirable variations of the timeless Chanel Classic Flap bag. The Mini Flap is the quintessential shoulder/crossbody bag and taps directly into the mini bag trend of present day.


As the name suggests, CC In Love, collectors fell head over heels for Chanel’s newest addition, a mini heart-shaped quilted flap bag. Debuted in the maison’s SS 2022 runway, the CC In Love features a front flap with the signature CC turnlock closure, as well as its classic diamond quilted lambskin leather. Introduced in 1955, the instantly recognisable timeless diamond quilting was inspired by jockeys’ riding coats, as well as the cushions in Chanel’s Paris apartment


Louis Vuitton Vivienne Bride, Vivienne Mermaid and Gaston Bridegroom Wooden Figurines

Why We Love It: The Vivienne Bride is a charming collector's item for any Louis Vuitton fan. To mark her union with Gaston, the iconic character is dressed for her wedding day, complete with a sparkling crystal tiara and colourful leather bouquet. The playful accessory is finished with emblematic signatures including the Monogram pattern on the legs and a Monogram Flower eye.

The Gaston Bridegroom figurine sees the character in a full suit and top hat, dressed for his wedding to the beloved Vivienne. He is finished with polished Louis Vuitton stud eyes, an Essential V nose and vibrant Monogram Flower pins on his lapel. This intricately detailed figure is the perfect gift for those celebrating romance.

With her starfish bow, shell bag and clever tail, the Vivienne Mermaid offers a delightful homage to the treasures and pleasures of the sea. The iconic House mascot is adorned with details such as Monogram canvas petals, natural cowhide arms and stud eyes.


Louis Vuitton Limited Edition Huang Yuxing Multicolor Calfskin

Why We Love It: Embracing the House’s passionate commitment towards artisans, the Artycapucines collection elevates the timeless elegance of the original Capucines bag with the creative vision of renowned artists invited by the House. This limited edition Capucines BB bag from artist Huang Yuxing is based on his landscape painting, The Colossus Hidden in the Hills. The bag’s striking tufted surface showcases coloured mountains, created with an embroidery technique which adds perspective and texture, the hand-crafted LV signature is delicately inlaid with enamel, while a hot pink lining brings a statement finish.


Handbags & Accessories Buy Now

More from Sotheby's

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.

arrow Created with Sketch. Back To Top