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Everything you need to know about the Hermès Kelly Bag in 2023
Even though the Hermès Kelly bag has been around for almost 100 years, it’s only gotten more and more popular with time. Not only is it the brand’s most classic handbag, but it’s also one of the most coveted.
Check out the rest of this article to learn about the fascinating history of the Kelly, as well as all of the design details.
About the Hermès Kelly Bag
The Kelly bag traces its origins back to 1852 and is Hermès’ most classic handbag. It was inspired by the Haut à Courroies (HAC) bag which was used to hold saddles for equestrians.
This version was reinterpreted into the Sac à Dépêches in 1930. From there, the bag saw another evolution into a boxier, more elegant ladies’ bag.
While the Sac à Dépêches was always a popular style for the brand, it didn’t reach its true star potential until 1954 when actress Grace Kelly was photographed carrying it to hide her baby bump.
This image of the glamorous, newly-married starlet appeared on magazine covers around the world and led to the bag to be nicknamed the ‘Kelly.’ Hermès officially renamed the Sac à Dépêches the Kelly in 1977.
Kelly has a trapezoidal design with two triangular gussets, a cutout flap, a top handle, and two side straps. Newer versions include an optional shoulder strap.
It comes in two styles, the Kelly Retourne and the Kelly Sellier.
The Retourne is the original design. It is sewn backward, then turned inside out. This results in a softer, more casual look. By comparison, the Sellier has external stitching and sharp edges, leading to a more rigid and architectural look.
There’s no right or wrong when it comes to the Kelly Retourne vs Sellier – it’s just up to you and your preference. If you prefer a more structured bag, go with the Sellier and if you love the slouchy look, go with the Retourne.
Materials: Which leather does the Hermès Kelly come in?
The materials used for Kellys often depend on whether the finished product has a softer Retourne structure or a more rigid Sellier structure.
To create the relaxed look of the Retourne bag, Hermès craftsmen use Togo, Clémence, Swift, or Evercolor leather.
For the firmer Sellier shape, Epsom, Chèvre, Box, or Tadelakt leather is used. Selliers can also be made out of exotic skins such crocodile, alligator, ostrich, or lizard.
In terms of hardware, Kelly bags are made with Gold, Palladium, or Permabrass hardware. Special order bags can be made with Brushed Gold or Brushed Palladium hardware. Some rare bags are made with Diamond Hardware.
Hermès Kelly Sizes
Hermès produces the Kelly in eight different sizes: 20 cm (“Mini”), 25 cm, 28 cm, 32 cm, 35 cm, 40 cm, 45 cm, and 50 cm. The smaller sizes are “easier” to find, with the 28, 32, and 35 being the most popular.
Here’s a breakdown of the dimensions for each of the sizes:
|Kelly Bag Size||Dimensions LxHxW (inches)||Dimensions LxHxW (centimeters)|
|20||7.8” x 6.3” x 4”||20 x 16 x 10|
|25||10” x 7.5” x 3.5”||25 x 19 x 9|
|28||11” x 8.5” x 4”||28 x 22 x 10|
|32||12.5” x 9” x 4”||32 x 23 x 10.5|
|35||14” x 9.5” x 4.7”||35 x 24 x 12|
|40||15.2” x 11” x 6.3”||40 x 28 x 16|
|50||19.6” x 13” x 9.8”||50 x 34 x 25|
Black is the most popular Kelly color, followed by Gold (camel tan), and Etoupe (taupe). Aside from these neutral colors, the Kelly is available in pretty much any color you can imagine.
Kelly Prices: How much does an Hermès Kelly Cost?
As is the case with many Hermès bags, the size, materials, and demand play a big role in the prices of Kellys.
It’s also worth noting that Sellier Kellys tend to sell for $1,000 more than Retournes. This is due to the specialized work involved in creating the Sellier’s structure.
Check out the table below for some current Kelly prices.
|Kelly Bag Size||2022 Price (USD)||2022 Price (EUR)|
|Mini Kelly 20 Epsom||$8,250||€6,150|
|Mini Kelly 20 Chèvre||$8,900||€6,650|
|Kelly 25 Togo Retourne||$9,900||€7,400|
|Kelly 25 Swift Retourne||$10,300||€7,700|
|Kelly 25 Epsom Sellier||$10,600||€7,950|
|Kelly 25 Chèvre Sellier||$11,400||€8,500|
|Kelly 28 Togo Retourne||$10,600||€7,950|
|Kelly 28 Clémence Retourne||$10,600||€7,950|
|Kelly 28 Epsom Sellier||$11,200||€8,300|
|Kelly 32 Togo Retourne||$11,300||€8,450|
|Kelly 32 Epsom Sellier||$12,100||€9,050|
For regular leather (as in not exotic), the Hermès Kelly prices start at around $8,000 and go up to $12,100. Of course, the price will be much higher for exotic skins or for special orders.
Is the Kelly Worth It?
With a starting price over $8,000, it’s normal to pause for a second before making the decision to purchase a Kelly bag. While pricey, the Kelly is perhaps one of the best handbag purchases you can make.
To begin with, the Kelly has a classic style that will never go out of style. Knowing that you’ll be able to use this bag for years to come makes investing in this bag more attractive.
On a similar note, Kelly bags are built to last. Each bag is made with the finest materials by highly-trained artisans who spend 15 to 20 hours on each piece. With that kind of attention to detail, you know your Kelly will hold up, no matter what you put it through.
While most people purchase a Kelly with the intention of keeping it, you’ll be happy to know that this model has an incredibly high resale value if you ever decide to trade it in. Certain models even appreciate over time, so you could end up making money on your purchase.
With that in mind, it’s safe to say that the Kelly bag is more than worth the money spent.
Is It Hard to Get a Kelly?
With everything the Kelly has going for it, it should come as no surprise that getting your hands on one can be a challenge.
In order to purchase a Kelly bag, clients must build up a buying history at Hermès and cultivate a relationship with the sales associates at their nearest boutique. If all goes well, the sales associate will contact prospective customers when a bag becomes available.
But even if a bag becomes available, it may not be your first choice of style, size, or color. Sales associates cannot order specific Kelly bags and rarely know what they’re receiving ahead of time.
If you don’t have the time to wait for the Kelly of your dreams, then reselling platforms can be a great place to look for secondhand bags.
Kelly Resale Value
At 92%, the Kelly has one of the highest average resale values of any Hermès bag.
Smaller sizes like the Mini Kelly, the Kelly Pochette, the Kelly 25, and the Kelly 28 have the highest demand.
With its long legacy, classic styling, and premium materials, the Hermès Kelly is one of the brand’s most sought-after items. As if that weren’t enough, these bags hold their value incredibly well over time.
So, if you’re lucky enough to get the chance to purchase a Kelly, don’t hesitate to pick up this gorgeous bag.
Read also our other Hermès Guides