In 1984, in an AirFrance flight from Paris to London actress Jane Birkin, found herself seated next to Jean-Louis Dumas, Executive Chairman of Hermès (1978-2006). After spilling the contents of her bag on the plane floor, Birkin who had given birth to her youngest Lou in 1982 complained that she couldn’t find a bag suitable for her needs as a young mom because "What's the use of having a second one? You only need one and that busts your arm.."
Dumas reportedly remarked, “You should have one with pockets”, to which she replied: “The day Hermès makes one with pockets I will have that.”
Birkin then sketched a bag on a sick bag – drawing inspiration from both the 1982 Kelly which she used briefly and her partner Serge Gainsbourg’s suitcase. What came out was a supple and spacious rectangular holdall with a burnished flap and saddle stitching. With a dedicated space for baby bottles!
Hermes started out as a Paris saddlery established in 1837 by Thierry Hermès. Émile-Maurice, Thierry's grandson and Hermès’s then head of firm changed Hermes's specialty and the course of its history when he added luggage to Hermes's repertoire in 1920 and unveiled Hermes's 1st handbag in 1922.In 1935 Maurice introduced the Sac à Dépêches to meet his wife's needs.The bag was a hit, but Princess Grace made the bag iconic when she used it to cover her then growing baby bump from the paparazzi.Snapped by Life Magazine in 1977, the bag would become in demand and be renamed the Kelly later.
The Kelly bag comes in 2 styles: 1)Kelly Sellier and 2)Kelly Retourne. The differences are in the stitching and the edges:the Sellier has visible stitching and a pointy edge, while the Kelly Retourne's stiching is not visible and its edges are soft. A Sellier is more structured and rigid due to the hard leathers it is made of. A Retourne is created using softer leathers, giving it a more casual look,allowing it to fit a bit more, than a Sellier could.To match the bags,there's also the Kellydole and the rest of the Kelly family:the pocket compact wallet,belt,watch and the Classique To Go Clutch
Hermes is known for not using assembly lines. Only 1 craftsperson may work on a handbag at a time, hand-stitching each individual piece. Due to the (1) labor-intensive nature of Hermès production methods and (2)the use of rare materials which includes professionally treated and dyed leathers of alligator from Florida, buffalo from Pakistan, crocodile from Australia, shark from Thailand, lizard from Malaysia, and oxen, deer, calf, goat, and ostrich from all over the world; sometimes including precious metals, one bag can take 18- 24 hrs to create.This is also explains the bags' large price tag.
“The Hermès Bag is the best example of a heritage piece as it contains an emotional value, and this is why it is so loved,” says Sophie Hersan, co-founder of Vestiaire Collective. “These bags are treated with care and have durability, as people attach emotional value to the story behind how they obtained their Hermès bag.”
To make Hermes bags, like the Kelly Bag for example,
Sandpaper is used to smooth the layers of the stitched leather and then dyed to match the handbag.
Hot wax is then applied to protect the handle from moisture.
Finally the bag is ironed to gently smooth out the wrinkles in the calfskin.
The very last step is the inclusion of the famous "Hermes Paris" gold stamp.
“The process of buying an Hermès Birkin bag on the primary market is shrouded in mystery to keep the allure of exclusivity,” says Charles Gorra, founder,CEO of luxury resale site Rebag.
The boutiques are there so you can put your name on a waiting list for the bag, but there’s no guarantee when you can getbyour hands on one. “Hermès tightly controls inventory and keeps the retail price of a Birkin secret, while having periodic price increases. Simply walking into an Hermès store isn’t enough because they give regular clients priority.”
The 4 most popular sizes:
Birkin 25, 30, 35, and 40 (original size).
2. The Hermès Kelly: Sophisticated Classic
Types: Kelly Sellier, Kelly Retourne
Sizes: Kelly 15 & 20, medium Kelly 35, Large Kelly 50
3. The Hermès Constance: Simple and Luxurious
Sizes: 24(standard), mini, micro, Elan(rectangular)
- Secured w/ the simple and functional “H” clasp.
- Strap can be adjusted to make the bag hang long or short.
- Designed by Catherine Chaillet (pregnant at that time) who named the bag after daughter, Constance.
- Jacky Kennedy's go-to
- Picotin: French word for the measure of feed given to a horse
- design inspired by horse feed bags
5. The Hermès Evelyne: Equestrian Essential Turned Luxury Bag
- Inspired by Hermès’ equestrian roots.
- Has perforations that an "H" on 1 side to allow air to circulate the bag, drying wet combs, brushes, picks; hinting at the bag’s original function: to carry horse grooming equipment
- 4 Generations: Generations I, II,III & Evelyne Sellier
4 Sizes: Evelyne 16 (formerly TPM), Evelyne 29 (formerly PM), Evelyne 33 (GM), Evelyne 40 (formerly TGM)
- comes in leather or canvas w/ leather accents for a beachy, casual feel
Clou de selle snap closures on either side of the bag changes the shape of the tote/provide extra space
- comes in a variety of colors and 4 sizes: Garden Party 30, 36, 39, and 49 Voyage.
- lower price point and durability makes it ideal for your 1st Hermès purchase
7. The Hermès Lindy: Relaxed and Casual
- Named after the Lindy Hop, a famous American dance from the 1920s, designed for comfort and movement.
- comes in a few sizes: Lindy Mini, Lindy 26,30,34 & 45
- intended for top drivers and world travelers as its trapezoidal shape can easily fit into sports cars/luggage.
- Emile-Maurice Hermès came up with the zip closure who was inspired by the zipper device he saw on the cloth top of a car when he toured Henry Ford’s factory.He returned to France with a zipper patent and dubbed the bag born out of this discovery le sac pour l’auto
2 styles: the Mou(made of softer material), Rigide(sturdier and made of stiff material)
Sizes: (for daily use)Bolide Mini, Bolide 27, 31, 35, and (for travel) 45.
9. The Hermès Jypsière: Crossroads of Sporty and Glamorous
- Introduced in 2008 by Creative Director Jean Paul Gaultier
- mix of Hunting bag and Birkin
- Sizes:Jypsiere 28, 31, 34, and 37.
10. The Hermès Herbag: Approachable Bag for Everyone
- largely canvas construction
- also comes in a backpack version
- was discontinued in the mid-2000s and reintroduced in 2009 as the Herbag Zip w/ a few added elements:external pocket,zip pocket & an interior removable pouch
- sizes: Herbag TPM, Herbag Zip 31, Herbag 39, Herbag Cabine 50, and Herbag Zip 52
Jack of all people-related trades, master of none. Majored in Psychology, Customer Service Assoc for a few Years, HR Officer for 4, Manager and ESL Teacher for over 11 yrs now, an artist since birth.
Lesson: The greatest inventions are born out of necessity.
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