There are two collections which fall under the Hermès brand, and which garner equal interest in terms of notoriety, popularity, and style. The Birkin and Kelly bags both exhibit their own unique design features and finishes and are equally stylish in terms of the materials that they use and the way they sit on the wrist or shoulder of the wearer.
Both available in an endless array of colours and designs, the Birkin and Kelly bags are both named after famous women who in some way influenced the design or popularity of the bags – with the Birkin named after the famous actress Jane Birkin, who helped inform its creation, while the Kelly was renamed after the bag used by Grace Kelly to hide her pregnancy bump.
With that in mind, and with the similarities largely surrounding the popularity, coveted status, and value of both Hermès handbags, what is it that makes these two bags such staples in the luxury accessories world? In this blog, we’re focussing on the differences between the two Hermès handbag collections, and what makes both so equally popular among buyers.
The Hermès Birkin
Backstory and History
When Jane Birkin sat next to the CEO of Hermès on an aeroplane, the result of their conversation became one of the most coveted, in-demand, and valuable bags in the world. A new mother at the time, Birkin outlined her desire for a handbag that was stylish, and that looked good, but which also offered sufficient storage space and pockets for everything she needed while out and about – inspiring Jean-Louis Dumas to create the now famous Birkin bag.
Since its release in 1984, the Birkin has become the subject of many iconic quotes from movies (Sex and the City to name just one example), and has seen a multitude of limited-edition releases spanning seasonal trends and colour palettes, valuable hardware and diamante detailing, and the use of some of the rarest materials in the world.
One of the aspects that Jane Birkin brought to Dumas’ attention was women’s desire for functional everyday bags that are still intrinsically stylish and designed to provide a balanced and design-centric aesthetic. For this reason, the Birkin has always existed in a number of sizes, the standard sizes being the Birkin 25, 30, 35, and 40 – with the numbers relating to the bag’s width in centimetres. It is worth noting that some exceptionally exclusive models have been made in a Birkin 20 size over the years, though this is not considered one of the standard sizes.
Features, Finishes, and Iconic Models
Since their original release, the Birkin collection has enjoyed a never-ending array of materials and colour palettes – yet the basics of the bags have remained very much as they were in the first few models created.
Brought to life by craftsmen who know the design concept and pattern like the back of their hand, every Birkin is made to a consistently high quality and boasts a standalone structure that holds its shape, and which has a central latch. This latch, and the other hardware across the bag’s design, varies depending on the model, and can be made from anything from palladium to white gold, yellow gold, or diamond detailing.
Among the most iconic Birkin models, buyers and sellers alike are often drawn to the Hermès Himalaya Birkin, the classic and timeless Gold Birkin bag, and the limited-edition Faubourg Birkin bag, which was released in homage to the brand’s flagship storefront in Paris.
The Hermès Kelly
Backstory and History
The Hermès Kelly is another iconic bag that owes its popularity to a famous female figure, this time Grace Kelly – who used the already-in-circulation bag to hide her pregnancy bump in 1956. The bag became so popular after this occasion that the brand renamed the bag the Hermès Kelly.
Prior to this, the Kelly bag was called the Sac à Dépêches, and was primarily a practical and functional handbag that boasted a rigid and stable structure, and which held its shape exceptionally well. When comparing the Hermès Kelly with the Birkin, it is important to note that Jane Birkin’s own inspiration for the Birkin bag lay in the existing design of the Kelly, though with more of an eye to everyday functionality rather than the optimum luxury epitomised by the Kelly.
Like the Hermès Birkin, the Kelly has a range of different sizes – ranging from the 20cm “Mini” to the 25, 28, 32, 35, 40, 45, and even the 50cm model (though the larger three are much harder to find on the standard market).
The numbers equate to the width of the bag in centimetres.
Features, Finishes, and Iconic Models
The Hermès Kelly is the original Hermès handbag that was coveted and loved by stars and investment buyers alike. Like the Birkin, there are a handful of exceptionally rare pieces that have been crafted throughout the brand’s history, and which are not only iconic in terms of aesthetic, but which also fetch some of the highest prices on the retail and resale market.
Some examples of rare and coveted Hermès Kelly bags include the Kelly Ardennes bag, the Kelly Danse, which boasts a different structure and can be worn in different ways, and the Kelly In and Out, which presents a colourful design on the outside – a move away from the block-colour standard that adorns most Hermès bags.
Is an Hermès Handbag Worth the Investment?
Whether you are drawn towards the Hermès Kelly or the Hermès Birkin, the investment potential of any luxury handbag from this brand lies in the impeccable craftsmanship, the quality materials, and the prestige of the brand itself, which renders every piece a high-value luxury good.
Here at Love Luxury, we combine access to some of the best luxury handbags and designer goods on the market with a reputable valuation and authentication service – ensuring that every buyer and seller walks away with the guarantee that what they have purchased from or sold to us is 100% authentic.
Browse our instore and online boutique to uncover some of the Hermès handbags that we currently have in stock.