Hermès Birkin vs. Kelly: Which Bag Should You Choose?
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Hermès Birkin vs. Kelly: Which Bag Should You Choose?

While the Birkin and Kelly bags are both iconic Hermès creations, Hermès lovers often struggle choosing between the two. Hence, the eternal debate: the Hermès Birkin or the Hermès Kelly – which bag is the better choice?

Well, let me tell you right away: there’s no definitive answer to this question. And that is because the choice really depends on your lifestyle and preferences. Will you be using the bag daily or reserving it for special occasions? Do you prefer the convenience of a shoulder strap or the elegance of a top handle? Do you plan to sell the handbag in the future? Answering these and many other questions will be crucial in order to determine which handbag is a better choice for you and your lifestyle.

It goes without saying that knowing the key differences between the Birkin and Kelly can also greatly assist in determining which handbag best suits your needs. This article aims to provide that helpful information to guide you in making the right choice.

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Hermès Birkin vs. Kelly: History

So, starting from the very basics: history. Both the Hermès Birkin and Kelly come from the French house of Hermès. However, each bag has its own, unique story.

The story of the Birkin bag, in particular, dates back to 1981, when an actress and singer Jane Birkin happened to sit next to Jean-Louis Dumas, then the chief executive of Hermès, on a flight. The story goes that during the flight, Birkin lamented the lack of a suitable weekend bag, and the idea for the Birkin was born. This led to the creation of a spacious, yet elegant handbag designed to meet the practical needs of modern women.

The Hermès Kelly, formerly known as the ‘Sac à dépêches,’ on the contrary, gained its iconic status when Princess Grace Kelly of Monaco, famously used it to shield her pregnant belly from paparazzi. The bag was subsequently renamed in her honor, solidifying its place as one of the most iconic handbags.

Hermès Birkin vs. Kelly: Design

It’s weird, but true: a lot of people (especially new Hermès admirers) have trouble differentiating between the Birkin and the Kelly. I guess this is mostly due to the fact that the two bags possess an array of similar features, such as the top flap closure and the signature Hermès lock with the clochette. However, the two bags also possess an array of distinct qualities that set them apart.

Hermes Togo Birkin 25 Etoupe
Hermès Togo Birkin 25 Etoupe. Media Credit: Fashionphile
Hermes Kelly 28 Gold Retourne
Hermès Kelly 28 Gold Retourne. Media Credit: Fashionphile

In particular, the Birkin features a more rectangular silhouette, whereas the Kelly is more trapezoidal. The Birkin also has two top handles, whereas the Kelly only has one. Additionally, the Hermès Kelly bags come with a removable shoulder strap, whereas the Birkin is exclusively a top-handle bag.

The Hermès Birkin and Kelly bags also arrive in two distinct constructions: Sellier and Retourne. Though the Birkin Sellier is now officially discontinued, making it much harder to come by.

Hermès Birkin vs. Kelly: Sizes

Before purchasing the Birkin or Kelly bag you will also have to decide on the size. And that can be a pretty tricky one, as the two bags come available in an extensive range of sizes.

The Hermès Birkin, in particular, currently comes available in 25, 30, 35 and 40 sizes (the number in the name of the bag refers to the length of its base). Though limited edition sizes have also been produced, including the coveted Birkin 20. Not even to mention the Birkin HAC, which is basically a taller version of the traditional Birkin, also available in an array of sizes.

Find the exact dimensions for the main sizes of the Hermès Birkin bag below.

Hermès bag styleDimensions (cm)Dimensions (inches)
Birkin 2525 L x 20 H x 13 W cm10” L x 8” H x 5” W inches
Birkin 3030 L x 22 H x 16 W cm11.5” L x 9” H x 6” W inches
Birkin 3535 L x 25 H x 18 W cm14” L x 10” H x 7” W inches
Birkin 4040 L x 30 H x 21 W cm16” L x 12” H x 8” W inches
Hermès Birkin Bag Sizes

The Hermès Kelly, too, comes in a range of different sizes. Those include the Kelly 20 (also known as Mini Kelly), 28, 28, 32, 35 and 40. View the exact dimensions of the bags below.

Hermès bag styleDimensions (cm)Dimensions (inches)
Kelly 2020 L x 16 H x 10 W cm7.8” L x 6.3” H x 4” W inches
Kelly 2525 L x 19 H x 9 W cm10” L x 7.5” H x 3.5” W inches
Kelly 2828 L x 22 H x 10 W cm11” L x 8.5” H x 4” W inches
Kelly 3232 L x 23 H x 10.5 W cm12.5” L x 9” H x 4” W inches
Kelly 3535 L x 24 H x 12 W cm14” L x 9.5” H x 4.7” W inches
Kelly 4040 L x 28 H x 16 W cm15.7” L x 11” H x 6.3” W inches
Hermès Kelly Bag Sizes

Currently, the most popular sizes for the Birkin are the 25 and 30 (20, 25 and 28 for the Kelly).

Hermès Birkin vs. Kelly: Prices

As you can see from the table below, the highly sought-after Birkin 25 in Togo leather currently retails for $11,400 in the US and €8,600 in Europe. Similarly, the popular Kelly 25 in Togo will set you back $11,300 in the US and €9,100 in Europe. However, that’s if you manage to get your hands on a bag directly from Hermès!

Hermès bag style2024 Price (USD)2024 Price (EUR)
Birkin 25 Togo$11,400€8,600
Birkin 30 Togo$12,500€9,400
Birkin 35 Togo$12,700€10,200
Kelly 20 Epsom$9,400€7,150
Kelly 25 Togo Retourne$11,300€9,100
Kelly 25 Epsom Sellier$11,800€9,500
Kelly 28 Togo Retourne$12,000€9,600
Kelly 28 Epsom Sellier$12,500€10,300
Kelly 32 Togo Retourne$12,600€10,400
Hermès Birkin and Kelly Prices 2024

That’s right, as two of the most coveted bags in the world, both the Hermès Birkin and Kelly tend to resell for well over retail. The Birkin, specifically, can easily command double its original cost when in a sought-after size and color, while the highly-desirable Kelly 20 currently resells for as much as triple its retail price. Of course, the resale price of the bag is going to largely depend on its condition and desirability. But in general, both the Birkin and Kelly command extraordinary resale figures, which is also why a lot of people view them as investments.

Hermès Birkin vs. Kelly: Popularity

Although both the Hermès Birkin and Kelly bags are highly coveted for their scarcity and resale value, the Birkin tends to garner greater visibility and name recognition. This can be attributed to its more prominent media coverage compared to the Kelly (remember the iconic scene from Sex and the City?). Nevertheless, the Kelly maintains a devoted following, which is particularly among those who value its historical legacy and elegant aesthetic.

Hermès Birkin vs. Kelly: which bag should you choose?

Now that we’ve learned all the key differences between the Birkin and Kelly bags, which one would you get?

I personally recommend the Birkin if your style is more on the casual side, and you prefer a handbag with easy access to your belongings. The Kelly, on the other hand, will work perfectly for those whose style is more elegant, as well as for the people who prefer to carry their handbags on the shoulder. But that’s just my opinion. What do you think? Let’s talk in the comments below!

Disclaimer: prices in this blog post are listed for information purposes only. Actual prices in boutiques may vary.

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