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While handbags were traditionally thought of as accompaniments to the main outfit, the exclusivity, desirability and artistry of luxury bags like the Hermès Birkin and Kelly make them so much more than just a pretty accessory. 

Whether buying new or pre-loved, Hermès bags will never just be a simple fashion item. These luxurious cult-classic bags make savvy investment pieces for those hoping to resell their pieces at a future date. The refined craftsmanship, exotic leathers and timeless designs found in any Hermès bag also ensure that the Birkin and Kelly retain their value as collectors’ items long into the future. If you’re considering purchasing an Hermès bag, you might be debating which design to go for, continue reading to discover what makes each of these two bags unique.

How The Classics Got Their Names

Despite being less famous compared to the Birkin, the Kelly is actually the first of the two designs to be inaugurated into the house of Hermès. This classic trapezoid bag was made famous by, and later renamed after Grace Kelly, then the Princess of Monaco. Expectant with her first child, the American-born actress used the Kelly bag to shield her pregnancy bump from the paparazzi. Those photos were published in Life magazine and the Hermès Kelly soon became a cultural symbol of class and elegance. 

The Birkin has as its namesake singer and fashion icon Jane Birkin. With no less of a whirlwind conception, this status-symbol bag was brought to life by Jean-Louis Dumas after a serendipitous on-flight conversation with the songstress. Click here to read more about the history of the iconic Birkin bag. 

Design Differences Between the Birkin and Kelly

Those who have their eye on a Birkin or Kelly bag must decide between two different cuts: the Sellier and the Retourne. Sellier bags are stitched on the outside and have a more distinct silhouette and structure. They are often made with rigid leathers like box leather or Epsom. On the other hand the sides and corners of Retourne bags are folded in with the piping on show. This results in a more relaxed look. 

Birkins can generally be found in four different sizes: 25, 30, 35 and 40 cm. The Birkin is slightly wider compared to a similarly sized Kelly bag. Often carried as a tote with the flap unlatched, the Birkin’s two top handles sit comfortably in the crook of your arm, making it an effortless everyday bag with enough space to carry all your daily essentials. Those who prioritise ease of access to a bag’s contents, but also desire a more formal silhouette might want to opt for a Birkin Sellier. Originally a limited edition design, the Birkin Sellier was brought back by Hermes in 2020. Due to its novelty and the extra workmanship that goes into Sellier stitching, Sellier bags (especially Birkin Selliers) cost slightly more than their Retourne counterparts. 

The Kelly generally comes in five sizes: 20, 25, 28, 32 and 35 cm. Unlike the Birkin, the Kelly should always be carried with the flap closed. The single top handle and shoulder strap allows this bag to be carried in hand or crossbody. The trapezoid design projects a ladylike feel, but it also means that the structure is much more rigid, and will be able to contain less items than the Birkin. The Kelly is the kind of bag you might take to a business meeting or a night out on town. 

Birkin = Sophistication; Kelly = Elegance

Herein lies the main difference between the Birkin and the Kelly. The Kelly was rebranded using the name of royalty as the epitome of luxury and elegance. Just as the Princess of Monaco once carried it, the Kelly remains fit for any modern-day princess. On the other hand, the Birkin was created to be a true icon of the age—equal parts stylish and practical, and sophisticated and spirited. Regardless of which bag you end up choosing, know that the Hermès craftsmanship, exclusivity and luxury remains intrinsic to both.  

Selling or Investing in Pre-Owned Luxury? 

When it comes to buying luxury, there are other important things to consider besides the functionality and aesthetics of the bag. For example, are you looking to purchase a Birkin bag as an investment piece to resell later? Or are you seeking a pre-loved Kelly to add to your growing collection of luxury bags? Your answers to these questions might not be mutually exclusive. Nevertheless, Hermès bags, regardless of whether they be Birkins or Kellys, do cost a lot more than a pretty penny. It’s always wise to make a considered decision before taking the plunge and making the purchase. 

At the end of the day, it’s much easier to find a pre-loved Hermès bag on the luxury resale market instead of wishing for a spot on a fabled waiting list. The situation is the same both in Singapore and around the world. If you’re in the market to sell or buy a pre-owned Hermès Birkin or Kelly bag, LUX R Singapore is here to help. Our luxury consignment agency specialises in finding new homes for Hermès bags, with a special focus on Birkins and Kellys. Get in contact with us to find out more about what we can do for you. 

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#02-29 Far East Plaza,
Singapore 228213

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