So, you want to buy your first Hermes bag? We are with you 100% - Hermes handbags are in a league of their own in terms of their unmatched quality and luxury, status, exclusivity and style. There is simply no other fashion designer like Hermes. Unlike other designers, the term “entry level” does not apply to Hermes handbags.
In terms of sheer price range, “entry level” into Hermes would be a scarf or twilly. For handbags, Hermes only offers the expensive and the super expensive. However, this price difference is not due to quality difference: the super expensive bags are priced as such because of rarity and exclusivity (i.e. a $5,000 Evelyn bag is of no less quality than a $50,000 Birkin, rather the Evelyn is more common and accessible).
The real differentiating factors between Hermes bags are their purpose and function. That is the beauty of Hermes: the brand only offers products of utmost luxury and quality, yet ensures that these products are as usable as they are beautiful.
That depends on two factors: function and purpose.
The Function: regardless of how beautiful it is - a bag is to carry things. The first question you should ask yourself is: what am I going to carry in my Hermes bag? Are you carrying a laptop, books or files? Are you toting around various supplies for a long day of errands? Or do you need to travel light and carry your phone and some credit cards?
In their line, Hermes offers various totes, clutches, satchels, messengers, hand-carry bags and shoulder-carry bags. Your preference is of course another consideration: are you a big-time organizer who desires multiple pockets inside your handbag? Or do you prefer a large, open space inside your bag? It seems as though Hermes has taken every consideration in the design of their handbags, as there is an Hermes bag for everyone.
The Purpose: where are you taking your Hermes bag? Are you a businesswoman needing something luxurious and durable, yet subtle enough for the professional space? Are you about to go out to a nice dinner or event and need something incredibly fashionable to carry your essentials? Or, are you looking for an everyday carry that you can rely on to get any job done? This is where style and material choice come into play.
Some Hermes bags are made with clou, or feet on the bottom so you can rest the bag down without damaging the leather. Hermes also offers several material choices, with some like Clemence and Epsom leather exhibiting far more durable and water-resistant qualities than other leather choices, making these bags perfect for everyday carry.
Your needs should directly influence the style and construction of your first Hermes bag. Below we break down some of our favorite Hermes bags, discussing how and why they fit into different situations and lifestyles, usability and pricing.
The Garden Party is an essential staple in the Hermes handbag lineup, being the do-it-all casual tote bag. While the GP is not a huge tote, its wide, cavernous interior will carry almost anything you want it to. Available in three sizes: S/30, M/36 and L/39, there’s a Garden Party for every woman out there. .
Modeled after a horse saddle bag, the Evelyn is infused with Hermes’ equestrian heritage. Designed to carry its contents securely and slung over the shoulder, this bag is perfect for those on-the-go who want to travel lightly and in style.
There’s a reason why the Evelyn is one of, if not the single most popular Hermes bag, and that is because of its perfect balance of utility and beauty. Available in 4 sizes, Mini, Medium, Large and Extra Large, you can find an Evelyn perfectly suited to your needs and what you need to fit inside it.
A beautiful, romantic clutch, the Jige Elan embodies perfection in its small size. Undoubtedly Hermes, the clutch features the signature H leather tab closure. The bag was actually a gift from Jean Guerrand, son-in-law of Emile Hermes, to one of his daughters-in-law, and is named after the creator, Guerrand’s initials, hence the name ‘Jige’.
Perhaps one of the most exquisite Hermes handbags to date, the Kelly is stunningly beautiful and classy. Named after the late actress, fashion icon and Princess of Monaco Grace Kelly, this bag is as much of a cultural icon as it is a fashion statement, instantly elevating the status of anyone carrying it. Even though it errs on the more expensive side of the Hermes handbag lineup, the Kelly is surprisingly usable and appropriate in several settings.
Coming in two main styles, the boxy, rigid Sellier trim and the more relaxed, casual Retourne trim, the Kelly takes on two different personas. Carry it firmly in your hand, or let it hang from your shoulder with the included strap. The high utility mixed with unmatched quality and signature Hermes leather luxury makes the Kelly everyone’s dream bag.
*Hermes bags of this caliber are not easily attainable at the Hermes boutique. You will have to establish a relationship with an Hermes sales representative for the chance to buy the exclusive Kelly and Birkin handbags brand new. The best way to buy a Kelly or Birkin directly is on the resale market, however we’d caution you to purchase only from reputable resellers with a money-back authenticity guarantee. You will find that on the secondary market, prices for Kelly and Birkin handbags can be higher than retail.
We’ve saved the best for last! No handbag even comes close to the Birkin in terms of luxury, quality, status and exclusivity. Like the Kelly, the Birkin was named after a cultural icon: the singer, actress and model Jane Birkin. The Birkin bag is the finest leather product offered by Hermes, with a signature silhouette, solid leather construction and heavy precious metal hardware.
We have devoted entire articles to this amazing handbag, so if you are interested in buying your first Birkin bag, or just want to learn the ins and outs of this iconic handbag, be sure to check out our Birkin Investment Guide, Authenticity Guide and Leather Guide.
Birkins are the finest handbags in existence, and their quantity is intentionally restricted by Hermes. Only around 200,000 are in circulation, and buying one new is nearly impossible. The best place to buy a Birkin is 2020 and likely in the coming years is on the secondary market. In the secondary (a.k.a. resale) market you can have instant access without the wait and be able to choose your favorite size, material and color.
How much does a Birkin bag cost? You can get a Togo or Epsom leather Birkin on the resale market anywhere from $7,000-$18,000 depending on condition. Exotic leather examples, like Porosus crocodile Birkins range anywhere from $20,000-$70,000. Please refer to our Birkin Authenticity Guide for more detailed information regarding materials, price and investment value.