Kelly and Birkin : Transgenerational models and ” investment bags”
The iconic Kelly bag
The Kelly bag and its history
It all began in the 1930s, when Robert Dumas, son-in-law of Émile Hermès, took over the management of the House of Hermès and created “Le sac de dame à courroies”.
The trapezoidal shape of the bag, consisting of two triangular gussets, a cut-out flap, a handle and two straps, was a bold and modern invention in the famous Hermès house. Later, in the 1960s, a removable shoulder strap was added to the bag, allowing it to be carried by hand or on the shoulder.
In the late 1950s, Grâce Kelly, who had just been crowned Princess of Monaco, was spotted getting off the plane with a Hermès bag, allowing her to conceal her rounded belly.
With this elegant and distinguished image, the bag was baptized “Kelly”; the legend was born, and the iconic bag became the object of desire for many women around the world.
With its recognizable design, consisting of a two-striped leather closure and its mythical padlock, the Kelly bag is offered by Hermès in a wide range of leathers and over 50 colors.
The most popular leathers for the Kelly are Epsom, Togo and Clémence, textured leathers that protect the bag from daily wear and tear. Smoother leathers such as Box or Gulliver have a softer feel but are more prone to the occasional scratch.
Kelly is also available in exotic skins such as crocodile, ostrich, or lizard, which are aesthetically desirable but more expensive.
As craftsmanship is a priority for the House of Hermès, each piece is made by a single craftsman. This requires many hours of manual work to achieve a perfect finish.
The Kelly is available in several sizes, from the 15 cm wide mini bag to sizes 20, 25, 28, 32, 35, 40, and up to 50 cm wide.
Other editions of the mythical Kelly have appeared over the years, such as the mini Kelly pouch or the “Kelly To Go”, but also the famous “So Kelly” bucket bag, which is a variant of the “Kelly Picnic” wicker bag, and the “Kelly Dépêches” briefcase.
Kelly’s quotation on the second-hand market
The valuation and purchase price of a pre-owned Kelly bag depends on several factors, such as the leather and its finish, the rarity of the model, the color, and not forgetting the state of preservation of the piece. It is good to know that a new bag with all its original accessories is often preferred by collectors.
So-called “rare” bags made from exotic skins such as crocodile leather – as used for the iconic Himalaya by Hermès – or alligator leather, are more likely to sell and therefore be bought back at a higher price than a Kelly bag made from classic leather.
In the graph below, we have shown the average selling price of Kelly bags offered at BrandCo Paris, excluding exotic leathers. Today, a Kelly bag sells for around €10,000 depending on its general condition, compared to €4,000 a few years ago.
The price of the Kelly is constantly evolving, in correlation with the high demand and the wait to get a bag in the shop. Indeed, today, the Kelly is much more accessible in terms of availability on the pre-owned market than on the traditional luxury market.
The most popular Kelly sizes are 28, 32 and 35 cm. The micro-bag trend has played an important role in recent years in the pricing of this type of item, and the Kelly 25 remains one of the rarest and most sought-after models.
According to our graph below, the average selling price of a Kelly 25 in 2022 would be around €20,000.
The must-have Birkin bag
The Birkin’s bag and his story
The Birkin bag, one of the most coveted pieces of the last few decades, was born in 1984 during a Paris-London flight. It was created by the perfect chance meeting of Jean-Louis Dumas, then artistic director of Hermès, and the English actress and singer Jane Birkin.
During the flight, Jane Birkin complained that she couldn’t find a bag that suited her needs as a young mother. Jean-Louis Dumas offered to design one for her, and she later agreed to give it her name.
Convenient and spacious, the Birkin bag has two handles for carrying and is closed with two external straps, lined with a padlock; it has a leather lining, ensuring its resistance and durability.
Exceptional quality and craftsmanship
The exceptional quality of the Birkin bag requires, as for the Kelly, several hours of work – about 40 hours – by a single craftsman, a condition dear to the House of Hermès. This process is followed to the letter, as is the case for the Kelly, and involves an identification stamp of the craftsman, mentioned next to the year the bag was made.
The Birkin is available in five main sizes: 20, 25, 30, 35 and 40 cm, in a variety of smooth leathers such as Hermès Box, Swift and Barenia Faubourg, which require more care than other grained leathers that are more resistant to scratches, such as Togo, Clémence and Epsom.
Like the Kelly, the Birkin is also available in exotic leathers, such as ostrich, lizard leathers such as Varans Niloticus or Lizard Salvator, but also in crocodile and alligator skins such as Mississippi Alligator, Niloticus and finally, the most expensive one to date, Porosus.
Birkin’s quotation on the pre-owned market
The Birkin is a timeless model with a timeless design that retains its value from one generation to the next. This is why the Birkin bag has a constant growth cycle on the pre-owned market.
Just like the Kelly, the Birkin’s selling price is constantly changing. Thanks to ever-increasing demand, a Birkin bag can sell for up to €12,000 at BrandCo Paris today, compared to €8,000 during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, according to our database.
Given the strong demand for 25 and 30 cm sizes, their average selling price is almost the same in 2022, as their selling price has experienced a strong post-pandemic growth.
Sizes 35 and 40 cm are less in demand, given their larger size.
Our Kelly and Birkin bags selection
At BrandCo Paris, we offer a wide range of Kelly and Birkin bags, available in many colors, leathers and sizes, from the most classic to the rarest models.
These bags are both great values and are considered true investments, they are iconic and timeless pieces that continue to increase in value over time.
With BrandCo Paris, you don’t have to wait for weeks to get an appointment at Hermès to buy the bag of your dreams.
We offer you the possibility to buy it, but also to buy back your Kelly and Birkin bags at the best price, should you wish to part with them.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.
BrandCo Paris has a concierge service that will be happy to find you the bag of your dreams.