In the luxury industry, Hermès handbags are considered to be at the top of the food chain; they represent style and status. What makes them so covetable, and where can you get your hands on one? We are breaking down everything you need to know about buying them.
Hermès Handbag Buying Guide
Why Buy Hermès?
Hermès, first established in 1837 as a harness shop, has long been famous for their unparalleled craftsmanship and use of high-quality materials. Hermès is one of the few brands whose pieces appreciate over time; the desirability, quality, and rarity means they often resell at or above retail prices, making them a fantastic investment. They will also last you a lifetime.
Buying Directly From Hermès
Most styles of Hermès handbags can be purchased directly through the Hermès online store or from one of their boutiques. Notice how I said most. The highly-covetable styles such as a Birkin or Kelly are not available for purchase online and you won’t find them on display in one of their boutiques. To procure a Birkin or Kelly bag at retail-level you typically need to have a relationship with the store.
In black and white terms? By purchasing things from Hermès over time, you may be offered the chance at a Birkin or Kelly should one come available. If you have no preference on specs (size, material, color, or hardware color) and are game to purchase whatever is offered to you, it’s not a bad strategy. That being said, there are no guarantees and it’s still a waiting game.
Because certain styles of Hermès bags can be challenging to purchase directly from Hermès, your best bet is getting one at the resale level. There are several luxury resale companies and auction houses that sell Hermès handbags; always buy from knowledgeable and trusted resellers with authenticity guarantees (like myGemma). There are a lot of benefits to buying Pre-Loved:
- Scoring a Birkin or Kelly: The Birkin and Kelly bags are the hardest to get at retail-level, but buying Pre-Loved cuts through the red tape.
- Limited Edition: Access to Limited Edition or Custom bags that otherwise wouldn’t be available in store.
- Rare Combinations: The ability to purchase bags made in discontinued or rare colors and materials.
- Eco Factor: You’re doing your part to reduce your carbon footprint by enjoying something that has already been created and is looking for a new home.
Now, the hard part: which bag should you buy? Your end-game goal for your Hermès handbag should influence which style you go with. Determine your handbag-buying style:
- Till Death Do Us Part: Looking for your forever bag? Go with your gut; choose the piece that speaks to you. Whether it’s a classic style or the It-bag of the moment, pick the one you love and will enjoy for years to come.
- Merry-Go-Round: Planning on using the bag for a season or two and then reselling? Buy a piece that you can easily flip when the time comes. Classic pieces like Birkin or Kelly bags in neutral colors are a safe bet because there will always be a market for them, and they typically have a high return value. Trendy pieces like a Mini Kelly 20 II or Constance in bold colors are also good options because they are very of-the-moment.
- Investment: Looking to invest now and cash in later? Luxury Handbags were the #1 collectible investment in 2019. There are a few things you should look for:
- Condition: You should look for pieces in Mint condition. This will protect your investment. People are always more willing to pay top dollar for something that is like-new.
- Exotic: Pieces crafted in Alligator, Crocodile, Lizard, or Ostrich will fetch higher prices (especially if it’s a Birkin or Kelly). Bonus points for diamond hardware.
- Rarity: Limited Edition and Custom pieces are your friends. If you can procure a piece that Hermès can’t even supply anymore, then you can set your price.
Hermès Handbag History
Still can’t decide? Get to know the history behind some of our favorite Hermès handbag styles.
The Hermès Birkin: A chance meeting between Hermès Creative Director, Jean-Louis Dumas and actress Jane Birkin catapulted this creation into existence. While seated next to each other on a flight, Jane mentioned she was unable to find a handbag that held all of her things.
By the time they landed, Jean-Louis Dumas had completed the preliminary sketches for what would become the most iconic bag in history. Crafted by one artisan entirely by hand, it's now considered to be the holy grail of handbags. Its exquisite craftsmanship and exclusivity keep this bag in high demand 36 years after its debut.
First conceived in 1930, by Robert Dumas, as a classic and elegant bag for the modern and independent woman. It had been referred to as “The Ladies’ Bag” or “Sac à dépêches” before being reborn in 1956.
Grace Kelly was famously photographed concealing her baby bump with the bag, and from that moment on it became the Kelly bag. The Kelly is now made in several variations and sizes and still considered to be the epitome of style and grace.
Designed by Catherine Chaillet, and named after her daughter Constance, who she was pregnant with at the time. The Constance bag was also the first to feature the iconic “H” clasp. It was a favorite of Jackie O’s and has become collectible in its own right, representing the bond between mother and daughter.
Released in 1978 by the Head of Hermès Riding Department, Evelyne Bertrand, it was originally purposed for tending horses. Now one of their most popular styles, the Evelyne is the ideal companion for day-to-day and travel.
Named after the “Lindy Hop”, a popular dance from the 1920’s, the Lindy bag was designed by Frédéric Vidal and made its debut in 2007. Its unique silhouette and easy-access make it a fan favorite.
The Jige was designed by Jean Guerrand in 1975, and given as a wedding gift to his daughter-in-law. Named after his initials, the Jige was meant to symbolize the union of love. Its simplicity and sophistication stand the test of time.