An Introduction to Hermès
The Hermès brand was born in 1837 when Thierry Hermès founded a harness workshop in Paris. The company’s mission was to create equestrian leather goods for European nobles. In 1900, Hermès introduced its first bag to consumers: the Haut à Courroies (aka the HAC). This bag was designed specifically to carry riders’ saddles. In the 1920s, Hermès grew to include accessories, clothing, handbags, and travel bags. In 1935, the Kelly – then called the Sac à Dépchêches – was introduced, followed by the Constance in 1959, and the Birkin in 1984. Hermès has always possessed an unwavering commitment to quality and their leather goods are still handmade by highly trained artisans today.
1 | The Hermès Birkin: Timeless and Most Coveted
The most coveted Hermès bag is the iconic Birkin bag. Named after actress and “it girl” Jane Birkin, this timeless Hermès purse comes in many color ways, materials, and sizes. The bag was conceived by the starlet and Hermès CEO Jean-Louis Dumas on an Air France flight where Jane urged him to create a Hermès bag with greater functionality. The four most popular sizes of Birkin are the Birkin 25, Birkin 30, Birkin 35, and Birkin 40 (the original size). Even at its smallest, the Birkin 25 can fit all your necessities including phone, wallet, sunglasses, and keys. The Birkin has been a highly coveted bag since the late 1980s, thanks to its timeless design, popularity among A-listers, and limited availability. Hermès stores are only allowed to buy a select number of Birkin bags bi-annually and the styles of Birkin are rarely known before their delivery to the boutique. As a result, finding a freshly-minted Birkin requires considerable time, patience, and flexibility. Resale platforms are disrupting this process by making Birkins more accessible to the public. Regardless, purchasing an Hermès Birkin bag – new or preowned– can be a substantial financial investment. Therefore, a Birkin bag is best suited for those looking for a timeless bag for all occasions.
2 | The Hermès Kelly: Sophisticated Classic
The oldest and most classic Hermès handbag is the Kelly bag. Frequently described as the Birkin’s older sister, and originally named Sac-à-Dépêches, this Hermès Kelly purse was a favorite of actress-turned-princess Grace Kelly, who used it to hide her pregnancy from paparazzi. The Princess of Monaco is credited with popularizing this particular Hermès bag, so much so that it was officially renamed for her in 1977. The Kelly bag comes in two styles: Kelly Sellier and Kelly Retourne. The differences are the stitching and the edges: a Kelly Sellier has visible stitching and a pointy edge, while the stitching on the Kelly Retourne is not visible and its edges are soft. A Sellier is a more structured, rigid bag thanks to the hard leathers artisans use to craft this Hermès purse. A Retourne is created using softer leathers, giving it a more casual look, and allowing it to fit slightly more than a Sellier. Available in smaller, trendier sizes, like the Kelly 15 and the Kelly 20, this Hermès bag comes in medium sizes, such as the Kelly 35, and large sizes, like the Kelly 50. There is an ongoing debate among Hermès handbag collectors as to whether the Kelly or the Birkin are more functional, but one thing is for sure: Kelly bags are for the luxurious sophisticate who wants to add an iconic Hermès bag to their wardrobe.
3 | The Hermès Constance: Simple and Luxurious Design
The Constance is a versatile bag worn comfortably over the shoulder and secured with the simple and functional “H” clasp. The bag’s designer, Catherine Chaillet, was pregnant whilst designing the bag, eventually naming it after her daughter, Constance. Chaillet’s design includes a strap that can be adjusted to make the bag hang long or short. In addition to the standard Constance 24, this Hermès bag comes in mini and micro models as well as a rectangular model called the “Elan.” The micro contains only one interior compartment, but buyers of other sizes have the option of a single or double interior compartment. Jackie Kennedy’s go-to, this youthful yet sophisticated Hermès bag can be worn casually during the day or for an evening out. Like the Birkin and Kelly, the Constance comes in many material and hardware combinations.
4 | The Hermès Picotin: Equestrian Inspired Bucket Bag
Hermès references its origins with the Picotin, whose name is the French word for the measure of feed given to a horse. This Hermès handbag is a popular style thanks to its minimalist, functional design, inspired by horse feed bags. The wide, round shape of the bucket bag allows you to fit all your necessities with ease, and the lock closure provides a sophisticated accent. This Hermès bag comes in soft, grained leather that gives the bag a timeless look or in canvas with leather accents, providing a sportier feel. The Picotin leather comes in a variety of colors with either palladium or gold hardware. The Picotin is perfect for someone who needs a casual, simple bag for an on-the-go lifestyle.
5 | The Hermès Evelyne: Equestrian Essential Turned Luxury Bag
Like many other Hermès handbags, the Picotin is inspired by Hermès’ equestrian roots. The bag has perforations that form a “H” on one side, which hint at the bag’s original function: to transport horse grooming equipment. These perforations allow air to circulate the bag, drying wet combs, brushes, and picks. The ventilated side of the Evelyne was meant to be worn against the equestrian’s body; however, now that the bag is considered a luxury good, the perforations are worn facing outwards. This Hermès bag is highly functional and sporty. The Evelyne comes in four generations: Generation I, Generation II, Generation III, and the Evelyne Sellier. Generation I does not have an adjustable strap or an exterior pocket. Generation II also lacks the adjustable strap, but has an exterior pocket. Generation III has both an adjustable strap and an exterior pocket, making it the most functional Evelyne. The Sellier is the Evelyne reimagined: the perforations have been removed and replaced with a diamond-shape “H” printed on the front of the bag. The Generation III and the Sellier are the only two models still being produced. This Hermès bag comes in four sizes: Evelyne 16 (formerly TPM), Evelyne 29 (formerly PM), Evelyne 33 (GM), Evelyne 40 (formerly TGM). The functionality of this Hermès bag makes it well suited for travel or for use as a casual day bag.
6 | The Hermès Garden Party: Accessible yet Versatile Tote
The Garden Party is an expertly crafted tote bag. This Hermès purse comes in leather or canvas with leather accents for a beachy, casual feel. The bag can be secured with a snap closure located at the top of the tote. Clou de selle snap closures on either side of the bag can be used to change the shape of the tote and provide extra space. The Garden Party comes in a variety of colors and four sizes: Garden Party 30, Garden Party 36, Garden Party 39, and Garden Party 49 Voyage. This is one of the most practical Hermès handbags, given how easy it is to use and the amount of interior room it provides. The Garden Party’s lower price point and durability makes it one of the more accessible Hermès bags, ideal for those looking to make their first Hermès purchase.
7 | The Hermès Lindy: Relaxed and Casual
Named after the Lindy Hop, a famous American dance from the 1920s, this bag was designed for comfort and movement. The perpendicular handles allow it to sit naturally on the wearer while the optional shoulder strap makes it more versatile. The handle positioning causes the center of the bag to droop. This purse has two exterior pockets positioned on either end and two zip closures sit on top. The Lindy is secured by a clou de selle touret lock closure. The Lindy comes in a few sizes: Lindy Mini, Lindy 26, Lindy 30, Lindy 34, and Lindy 45. The Lindy’s folded, relaxed style is suitable for someone who is on-the-go, whose fast-paced life requires a bag that can keep up.
8 | The Hermès Bolide: Travel in Style
The Bolide’s sleek design was intended for top drivers and world travelers. The Bolide’s trapezoidal shape fits easily into sports cars or luggage. The zip closure was discovered by Hermès CEO Emile-Maurice Hermès during travels to America. Upon touring Henry Ford’s factory, Hermès was struck by the zipper device he saw on the cloth top of a car. Suitably inspired, Hermès returned to France with a zipper patent and dubbed the bag born out of this discovery le sac pour l’auto, which is now the Bolide and a more minimalistic version called the 1923. This purse’s design meets at the intersection of classic beauty and function. The removable shoulder strap and rounded shape emphasize the Hermès bag’s practicality. The Bolide comes in two styles: the Mou and the Rigide. The Mou is made using soft leather, allowing it to slouch with use while the Rigide is studier and maintains its form over time. The Bolide comes in Bolide Mini, Bolide 27, Bolide 31, Bolide 35, and Bolide 45. The Bolide 45 is an ideal travel bag while the smaller Bolides are suitable for daily use.
9 | The Hermès Jypsière: Crossroads of Sporty and Glamorous
Introduced in 2008 by Creative Director Jean Paul Gaultier, the Jypsiere is a small, highly functional bag that can be worn on your shoulder or as a crossbody. A mix of Hunting bag and Birkin, the Jypsiere is elegant and luxurious without feeling static. This messenger bag features a frontal flap closure secured with a lock and a thick, adjustable shoulder strap. The interior features several compartments, allowing the wearer to keep her necessities organized with ease. Sizes include Jypsiere 28, Jypsiere 31, Jypsiere 34, and Jypsiere 37. This Hermès bag suits a sophisticated person seeking a smaller, more functional alternative to a larger handbag.
10 | The Hermès Herbag: Approachable Bag for Everyone
The Herbag is one of Hermès’ most accessible bags thanks to its largely canvas construction. The top flap is made from thick, durable leather and features the clou de selle closure while the bag’s body is made entirely of canvas or toile. The top can be detached from the body, allowing for the wearer to mix and match Herbags. This Hermès purse, which also came in a backpack version, has been compared to the Kelly because of its elegant, classic style, however, the Herbag is a mere fraction of the Kelly’s price. The Herbag was discontinued in the mid-2000s and was reintroduced in 2009 as the Herbag Zip. The Zip has a few added elements intended to update the Herbag. The newer version features an external pocket, a zip pocket, and an interior removable pouch. The Herbag and the Herbag Zip have both handles and a strap. Herbags come in a few sizes: Herbag TPM, Herbag Zip 31, Herbag 39, Herbag Cabine 50, and Herbag Zip 52. The Herbag is an approachable bag for everybody.