Style Highlight: The Hermès Kelly Bag

Style Highlight: The Hermès Kelly Bag

Hermès has been the epitome of luxury fashion for well over a century. Known for high quality craftsmanship and extreme exclusivity, Hermès creates bags that aren’t just accessories, but icons. While the Birkin bag is practically synonymous with the French fashion house, the Kelly bag is its elegant older sister. Over the past several years, the Kelly bag has skyrocketed in popularity, with the Lyst Index naming the pre-owned Hermès Kelly bag the number 2 hottest item of the first months of 2021. Why is the Kelly bag so popular and why should you buy it pre-owned? 

A Brief History of the Hermès Kelly Bag

Thierry Hermès founded a harness workshop in 1837 and quickly began selling high quality equestrian accessories to French noblemen. In 1880, Charles-Émile, Thierry’s son, opened a storefront in Paris, making custom harnesses and saddles. The Haut à courroies was the first bag produced by Hermès designed to carry saddles and riding boots. This bag was refashioned in the 1920s as a sleeker women’s travel bag for automobile travel rather than equestrian. In the 1930s Robert Dumas redesigned the bag, creating the Sac à dépêches. A trapezoidal bag with a top handle and side straps, the Sac à dépêches was a symbol of the brand’s rising modernity and popularity.

In 1956, Hollywood actress Grace Kelly was photographed holding a Sac à dépêches bag over her stomach to conceal a pregnancy. She was seen with the bag so often that replicas of it were sold and it began to be known colloquially as the “Kelly bag.” In 1977, Hermès officially changed the name of its iconic bag to honor the princess of Monaco. 

An Enduring Classic 

The Hermès Kelly bag has remained a classic for decades because of its timeless style and functionality. The structured silhouette gives the handbag a polished, glamorous look. Additionally, the detachable strap allows the Kelly bag to be worn over the shoulder or on the arm, differentiating it from the Birkin and making it practical for daily use. 

Like all Hermès bags, the Kelly bag is an example of the highest quality craftsmanship. Each Kelly bag is handcrafted by a single artisan, and takes 18-24 hours to make. Kelly bags are made from the most quality materials such as Clemence and Epsom leathers and exotic skins like lizard, ostrich, and alligator. The Kelly bag comes in two variations: the Retourné and Sellier. The Sellier is more structured, with visible side stitches and sharp edges, while the Retourné features more rounded corners. In addition to these variations, the Kelly bag has also been reinterpreted in different styles, like the Kelly Lakis, which features front zippered pockets, and the So Kelly bucket bag. 

In recent years, the Hermès Kelly bag has been a favorite of celebrities and fashion influencers, who love its timeless elegance. Styles like the Kelly Danse, designed by Jean-Paul Gaultier in 2008, features a long strap that allows it to be worn as a crossbody, belt bag, or backpack, are particularly popular. Smaller sizes like the 20cm mini are also coveted, reflective of the current trend for tiny handbags.

Why to Buy a Pre-Owned Hermès Kelly Bag

Hermès is famous for its exclusivity, with long waitlists and a limited number of bags made each year. Because of this, the best place to buy a Hermès Kelly bag is through luxury fashion resale. While you currently can’t buy a Hermès Kelly bag through the brand’s website or in their boutiques, fashion resale allows you to search for just the right size, color, and material. 

Like the Birkin bag, the Kelly bag is a smart economic investment -- with a steadily rising resale value, the Kelly is an ideal piece for luxury resale. So if you’re searching for a pre-owned Kelly bag, contact one of our complementary personal shoppers, and they’ll let you know when your dream bag comes in.