Hermes Information Guide
Deemed to be one of the world’s most valuable luxury brands, Hermes has proven to transcend the luxury brand industry, while setting new trends and immortalizing their iconic products. It has continued to emphasize the value of hand craftsmanship and has continued to pay tribute to its own history. More than the design, the innovation, and the creative minds behind Hermes, the brand has withstood the challenges of modern markets, the demands of the industry, and the tightening competition all because of its history that surpasses any other brand in the luxury market.
The Hermes Fashion House was established in Paris as a harness making shop in 1837 by Thierry Hermes (1801-1878). Hermès first established the family business as a harness shop in the Grands Boulevards quarter of Paris. The shop served European noblemen, creating wrought bridles and harnesses for carriages. His clients were the stylish Parisian “beau monde” and European royalty including Napoléon III and his empress, Eugénie. It was in late 1879 when the line was expanded by Charles-Emile Hermes, Thierry’s son and successor. The expansion included the manufacturing of saddles and they opened a new location near the Palais de l’Elysee.
It was in 1922 when the company introduced its first handbags. In 1937, Hermes opened its scarf (or carre) factory in Lyon. Robert Dumas-Hermes succeeded the leadership of Hermes in the 1950s and was iconic for introducing Hermes ties— still the most desirable ties in the world. Additionally, the duc-carriage-with-horse logo, bolduc (the famous ribbon!) and signature orange boxes were introduced in 1961. The Hermes horse-and-carriage logo was inspired by the art of Alfred de Dreux.
Jean-Louis Dumas, the son of Robert Dumas-Hermès, became chairman in 1978 and lead Hermes until 2006. During Jean-Louis’ reign, he expanded the fashion house into the home wares, further expanded the efforts in silks, leather goods, and perfumes. Dumas helped change the image of Hermes to accommodate a younger, more modern consumer and increased the growth of Hermes. Despite a brief (failed) attempt at public ownership in the 1990s, the Hermes family is still a majority shareholder in the company.
The Hermes’ family and company rejects mass production, assembly lines, and mechanization. The vast majority of Hermes products are manufactured at production sites in France. Bags, luggage and small leather goods are produced by professional artisans at approximately 12 French middle-sized leather goods manufacturing facilities ("Ateliers Hermes"), with a strong emphasis on quality manufacturing. Hermes has claimed that most items are created from start to finish by one craftsman, which is supposed to be a guarantee of the quality and uniqueness of Hermes products.
As of 2008, Hermes has 14 product divisions encompassing leather, scarves, ties, men's wear, women's fashion, perfume, watches, stationery, footwear, gloves, enamel, decorative arts, tableware, and jewelry. Today, Jean-Louis's son Pierre-Alexis Dumas is the artistic director of Hermes. Under his direction, the brand has seen its biggest growth in decades.
The Ultimate Dream Bag: Hermes Birkin History
The Birkin stands alone as the most sought after, impossible to find, and collectible bag ever made. This exquisite bag is typically only seen on the arms of the fortunate few. Even celebrities find themselves on the infamous Hermes Birkin wait lists with the hope of one day owning this ultra-exclusive bag. The Hermes Birkin was created jointly between Hermes CEO Jean-Louis Dumas and the actress Jane Birkin for whom the bag is named after, who complained that her Kelly bag was not very practical. Jane Birkin was gifted the first Birkin bag in 1984, and the rest is history.
Unlike other handbags, a single highly skilled craftsman works on one Birkin at a time with the construction of each Birkin bag consuming a whopping 18 hours. The bags are handmade in France by expert artisans using the company's signature saddle stitching, developed in the 1800s. Birkin bags are investment quality luxury items meaning that they either hold or increase their value of time. The Birkin is a true timeless masterpiece that will become the crown jewel of your bag collection!
Birkin prices range from $10,500 to $150,000. Due to the fact that each bag is handmade, prices vary according to the type of leather and hardware. The bags are distributed to Hermes boutiques in limited very quantities, creating scarcity and exclusivity. To purchase a Birkin through an Hermes boutique, Hermes customers join a waitlist for a custom Birkin after establishing a rapport and sales history with a Sales Associate. This waitlist can often mean customers wait for years to get the bag in the specific color and leather that they want. Unless you’re at the the famed Rue St. Honore Hermes boutique in France, which occasionally has seasonal Birkin bags in stock. This reason is part of many reasons why many people chose to purchase pre-loved authentic Hermes Birkin’s from Yoogi’s Closet.
Birkins come in sizes 25cm, 30cm, 35cm, 40cm and 45cm.
Birkin Bag Size Reference:
25cm: 10" L x 5" W x 8"H
30cm: 12" L x 6.25" W x 9" H
35cm: 14" L x 7.5" W x 10.75" H
40cm: 16" L x 8" W x 11.25" H
The Birkin has a very distinct design, two rolled leather handles, a flap closure with two belted straps and a center turnlock and that holds a padlock. The bag is locked by closing the top flaps over buckle loops, wrapping the buckle draw-straps, then closing the lock on the front hardware. Many Birkin carriers also tuck the flap inside of the bag and continue to buckle the draw-straps with the lock in front, to show off the prized “Hermes Made in France” stamping. The keys are enclosed in a leather key holder known as a clochette.
The 45 is a travel Birkin with slightly longer straps. There is also a similar bag called a Haut au Courries (abbreviated as HAC - which means High Belts in French) that is slightly taller with shorter straps. These come in sizes 27, 32 and, 37. Additionally, there is a JPG version designed by Jean Paul Gaultier, which is considered the “shoulder Birkin.”
Hermes Kelly History
The Kelly is a coveted and scarce bag. Like its muse, Grace Kelly, this bag is the definition of timeless elegance. The original prototype for this bag dates back to 1892 when Hermes developed a large bag to hold a saddle; the prototype was modified over the decades but the Kelly sold by Hermes today is similar to the Sac a Depeches introduced in the 1930s. In 1954, Grace Kelly was given the bag to use in the Hitchcock movie “To Catch A Thief”. She wore it regularly after her marriage to Prince Rainier of Monaco - it was dubbed the Kelly bag. It was officially called the Kelly in 1977.
Unlike other handbags, a single craftsman works on one bag at a time with the construction of each Kelly bag consuming a whopping 18 hours. Kelly bags have the same draw-strap and lock mechanism as a Birkin bag, but have a single leather top handle. Hermes introduced shoulder straps as standard equipment in the 1980's. Prior to that, Hermes would special order a strap. In 2000, the double loop metal strap holder was added. Kelly bags are investment, quality luxury items meaning that they either hold or increase their value of time.
Kelly bags come in sizes 20cm, 25cm, 28cm, 32cm, and 35cm.
Kelly Bag Size Reference:
20cm: 8" L x 3.5" W x 6"H
25cm: 10”L x 3.5”W x 7.5” H
28cm: 11" L x 4.5" W x 8" H
32cm: 12.5" L x 5" W x 9.5" H
35cm: 13.75" L x 5" W x 10.25" H
Kelly Sellier vs. Retourne
There are two styles of the Kelly bag.
Has a more structured shape with rigid corners and exterior stitching with no visible piping. The result is a stiffer, sharp edge shape. Occasionally referred to as “Rigide”.
Has a more relaxed shape. During the manufacturing process the bag is turned inside out. The result is a softer look with rounded edges and visible piping. The stitching on a Retourne is on the inside. This means that Retourne styles have a tendency to sloud. Occasionally referred to a “Souple”.
Other Popular Hermes Bags
The Bolide bag dates back in 1923 when Emile-Maurice Hermes created this handbag for his wife, which was the first ever handbag to use a zipper. There are two versions of the Bolide bag - the Web Bolide and the Bolide. The Web Bolide has an external pocket, no oval patch, and a two-way zip closure. The Bolide has a single zip closure, an oval patch, and a long strap. Both bags have a domed zip around closure and dual tubular top handles. It comes in four sizes, 27cm, 31cm, 35cm and 45cm.
The Evelyne bag features a rounded rectangular shape with the iconic perforated H with a circle on the front. The Evelyne bag came in four sizes - TPM, PM, GM and TGM.
There are 3 generations of the Evelyne:
Evelyne I (1st gen) has no external pocket and a non-adjustable strap
Evelyne II (2nd Gen) has an external pocket and a non-adjustable strap
Evelyne III (3rd gen) has an external pocket and an adjustable canvas strap
Hermes Garden Party
The Garden Party is a classic tote with tubular handles, a flat base, and expandable snap sides. They are typically made out of all leather (Negonda or Buffalo), or a mixture of canvas and leather. The interior is typically lined with linen and has a sturdy leather base to maintain structure. The Garden Party comes in three sizes - TPM, MM, GM.
The Constance bag was created way back in 1959. The Constance bag was designed by Catherine Chaillet, and named it after her fifth child. The first Constance left the Hermes shop the exact same day she delivered the baby, so the story goes. The elegant shoulder bag has a long strap that can be doubled for a shorter length and a signature “H” clasp.
This bucket style bag has a natural raw hide interior lining and a silver palladium clochette adorned on the front of the bag. It has a roomy interior which is perfect for everyday use. The bag has a leather tab closure. The Hermes Picotin Lock Bag is available in four sizes, PM, MM, GM and TGM.
Designed by artistic director Jean-Paul Gaultier, the Jypsiere borrows the body, swivel clasps, brackets and side straps of the iconic Birkin bag. This messenger style bag was part of the Autumn 2008 Collection. The Jypsiere is available in four sizes: 28cm, 31cm, 34cm and 37cm.
The Lindy first appeared in the Spring/Summer 2007 Runway Collection. The Linday can be carried by hand with its two tubular top handles or over the shoulder with its attached shoulder strap. It features two separate sides, each having its own zipper pulls which can be locked in the center with a classic Hermes twisting lock. The Lindy is available in four sizes: 26cm, 30cm, 34cm and 45cm.
Hermes Collier de Chien
The Collier de Chien motif is one of the most iconic accessories by Hermes. In French, the Collier de Chien actually means "dog collar". This Hermes design was specifically made for a client’s bulldog. It is believed that the Collier de chien belt was first introduced in 1927 and the bracelet follow with an introduction into retail in the 1940s. The design is distinct - it has eight rounded spikes and a single ring. Bracelets and belts are designed in a variety of hardware types, colors and leathers.
Hermes uses a variety of high quality metals, but most items are typically crafted of brass. Hermes item most commonly use 18k gold plated or palladium plated brass. Permabrass, ruthenium, guilloche (diamond cut pattern palladium), rose gold, or diamond crusted hardware are occasionally used.
Reference Guide: Hermes Leather
What truly defines Hermes is the craftsmanship, detailing, and leather. Unlike any other brand, Hermes uses varying types of leathers and colors for each bag, which often means that your Hermes Birkin or Kelly is one of a kind. Whether you’re deciding what type of leather your dream handbag is going to be, or you’re looking to identify what kind of leather your Hermes item is, this Herme’s Leather Reference Library has you covered.
Released in 1997. Togo leather is grained, textured and anti-scratch calf leather. Togo is lightweight, yet holds it’s shape. Togo has a defined soft pebbled finish that appears raised and feels smooth but grainy. At a far away distance, Togo appears to have vertical veins and reflects light. This is the most popular leather for Hermès Birkin Bags.
Released in the mid-1980s. Clemence is a natural grained and anti-scratch leather that is made from a baby bull calf, and is officially named Veau Taurillon Clemence. The grains are larger than in Togo. The grain is less deep than Togo, causing a more “matte” effect.
Notice Togo has a slight reflection and smaller cells, while Clemence appears "matte" and has larger cells.
Fjord is textured, matte, anti-scratch and is made from an adult bull. It is more durable than Togo or Clemence, even waterproof! Fjord has a slight velvety touch and matte texture. Fjord has a very visible grain. It has a wider, flatter grain than Togo or Clemence. One of the most common characteristics of Fjord is that it has vertical veins when viewed at a distance (sometimes vertically throughout the whole bag). The amount of veining can vary based on the skin. It’s possible to have a Fjord bag with no veining at all. It is also one of the heavier leathers.
Evergrain is a stiff leather with a grain. Evergrain is actually the embossed version of the smooth “Evercalf.” It has a very soft touch and scratches will buff out very easily. The color version of Evergrain is called "Evercolor".
Released in 2003. Embossed leather. Epsom replaced Courchevel in 2003. Unlike other leather, the pattern is pressed into the leather, giving the bag a laminated appearance that is rigid and structured. Epsom won’t scratch easily and is also very easy to clean. Epsom is still being used by Hermes today.
Hermes Veau Grain Lisse
Discontinued in 2003. Embossed leather. Veau Grain Lisse is a glass processed press leather that is known for being slightly thin with a luster. It is scratch resistant, slightly shiny, and lightweight. Sometimes referred to by Hermes collectors as “VGL,” Veau Grain Lisse has less angular, rounded grains. This leather is rigid and holds its shape fairly well.
Discontinued in handbags in the late 1990s/early 2000s. Used in Accessories until 2003. Embossed leather. Courchevel was the predecessor to Epsom, and it is now completely retired. Courchevel is a stamped leather with very even grain throughout. Courchevel is slightly shiny and is darker at the top part of the grain. It is lightweight, scratch resistant and easy to clean.
Hermes Grain d'H
Released in 2012. Veau Grain d’H is stamped, processed calf leather which has a finely structured pressed appearance and a sheen. Veau Grain d’H is a shiny leather with a cross-hatch embossing.
Released in 2006 (Previously named Gulliver which was discontinued in 1999). Swift leather is semi smooth, soft, semi matte. Swift is a soft leather with a fine grain. One of its best qualities is that it is great at absorbing the dyes and the brighter colors come to life in this leather. The fine grain seems to reflect light in such a way that the colors are almost iridescent.
Hermes Box Calf
Classic smooth calf leather. Box is stiff, smooth and very shiny. This leather has a visible fine grain. A more rigid structure than the grainy leathers. Box will show scratches more than the textured leathers, but over time it will develop a beautiful glossy mirror-like “patina”. Under the right care, Box calf leather can last for generations. Hermes fans love Box leather because it can be restored by Hermes, no matter the condition, in the "Hermes Spa." This is the oldest type of Hermes leather and frequently appears in Vintage Kellys or belts. The name originates from an English shoe craftsman in the 1890s, Joseph Box.
Chamonix is a variation of smooth calf leather that has very similar properties to “Box Calf,” leather but is matte instead of shiny. Frequently combined with white top stitch. Distinguished by natural "Hermès Made In France" blind stamps instead of the usual printed technique. Chamonix is frequently used on the underside of leather belts and leather jewelry.
Barenia is buttery smooth, and has a matte finish. Like “Chamonix”, it's frequently combined with white top stitch and commonly is distinguished by natural "Hermès Made In France" blind stamps. Barenia is commonly used in saddles, small leather goods, and occasionally bags. Barenia is very delicate and prone to scratches. Barenia is also a softer leather and bags will lose their shape after a while. This leather is double tanned in chrome and vegetable dyes and then soaked in a mix of nine different oils over a 5 to 6 week process. Barenia will develop a patina over time because it has no aniline finish and can absorb oil. Barenia can come in colors other than Natural (also called Fauve) - such as Black, Vert Olive, Indigo.
This is another of Hermes's classic leathers, showing up in vintage pieces over 50 years old. A cowhide that is smooth, untreated and very delicate. It develops into patina over time and the material will darken. Vache Natural, when new, will appear to be very light. It is much like Louis Vuitton’s cowhide Vachetta leather. Only released in Natural and Black.
Tadelakt calfskin leather is smooth and semi shiny and is almost just like Box leather. Most commonly used in leather jewelry and small leather goods. Tadelakt leather is prone to scratches, which is a characteristic in the leather because the dye is transparent. Tadelakt appears like a cross between Box Calf and Swift, and feels softer than Box but is shinier than Swift. It also has no visible grains on the outside, which gives it its utterly smooth and sensational appearance.
Hermes Vache Hunter
Natural Vache Hunter leather is a cowhide leather that is primarily used as a trim in Hermes bags such as the Etriviere and Herbag. Vache Hunter is very stiff and prone to scratches. It commonly has a rough, unfinished underside.
The soft, smooth matte version of Box calf. It has a smooth and velvety finish with no visible grain. Evercalf has a slight sheen and a softer texture than Box. Evercalf is VERY soft to the touch.
Hermes Chevre Leather
Made from goatskin. This leather is textured thus anti-scratch, but is also shiny and rigid. Ultra lightweight. A very interesting skin - more expensive than calf leathers. Bags made entirely of Chevre are very rare. The lining of Hermes bags is typically made of Marocain Chevre (Morrocan Chevre). There are two different varieties of Chevre - Chevre Mysore and Chevre de Coromandel.
Hermes Chevre Mysore
Released in 2002. A goathide leather with a grain that is more defined than its cousin, Chevre de Coromandel. It is lightweight and scratch resistant. There is a pronounced “sheen” to Chevre and reflects light very well. Chevre Mysore typically doesn’t have a visible spine.
Hermes Chevre de Coromandel
A goathide leather which is soft, lightweight and scratch resistant. Chevre de Coromandel has a visible spine down the center, a slightly iridescent sheen, and a visible graining. As of Spring 2008, Chevre de Coromandel is now released in “Souple,” which has less of a visible spine, less shine, and is much more pliable.
Hermes Vache Liegee
Released in 2004. Vache Liegee is a natural grained leather. Supposedly, the leather is stretched in 8 different directions and has a two-tone effect in the grain. It also has a slight sheen and luster. Vache Liegee leather is noted for being the thickest and most durable of the Hermes leathers.
Vachette Grainee des Ardennes is a processed pressed leather crafted from a malf calf raised in the Adrenne region (Northern France to Southern Belgium). Ardennes leather is very sturdy and holds its shape surprisingly well, complete with thick pressed grains and a slight sheen. Vache Ardennes is quite thick and structured (it does not slouch or flop) and is water and scratch resistant. It does not have a "soft" feeling like Clemence and the grains are slightly raised. Many Hermes collectors consider this leather to be a "work horse" and can stand the test of time, but the dye is prone to fading over time. This leather is very hard to find and is no longer in production. Vache Liegee replaced Ardennes leather.
Released in 2007. Crafted out of adult bull calf with a large grain. This matte type of leather is completely resistant to water. It has a matte, dry feeling to the touch. Negonda is mainly used in Garden Party bags.
Water buffalo hide. This leather has the interesting characteristic of absorbing the dye darkest in the center of the grain. Buffalo is known for its softness and rough grain size. Currently Buffalo is being used as trim in some bags that are crafted mostly of fabrics. Due to its water resistance, is commonly used in bags such as the Garden Party line.
Grizzly leather is rawhide calf leather which is also known as suede outside of the Hermes leather world. This sueded leather has a velvet finish.
Hermes Veau Sikkim
Veau Sikkim leather is buttery and soft. It has little to no grain, thus giving it its ultra soft feel. Sikkim leather tends to not hold shape and therefore gets slouchy very easily. Sikkim is used in the “Relax” version of the Bolide and Kelly, as well as the Double Sens tote.
Hermes Vache Trekking
Released in 2012. Vache Trekking is a processed calf leather that is noted for its firmness. Mainly used in Garden Party bags.
Often people confuse Vibrato for fabric but in fact, it is stacked leather. Vibrato leather is created by applying pressure to strips of leather and sueded leather. The stacked leather creates a textile that looks like cross-sections of stacked leather. Vibrato is difficult to maintain but is durable and scratch resistant. It is a very rare leather and is considered to be more expensive than other leathers. Vibrato often comes with an "eraser" to refurbish the leather. Vibrato handbags are very hard to find and showcase the capabilities of highly trained Hermes craftsmanship.
Crocodile Niloticus Matte and Shiny (Lisse)
Crocodile leather from Africa’s Nile River region in Zimbabwe. It has a larger scale pattern compared to the Porosus. Crocodile skins have small “pores”, which look like small dimples in each scale cell. The dimples are sensory pores that assist crocodiles to detect change in water pressure, and locate their prey. Crocodiles have these dots throughout their bodies. The shiny (lisse) version comes from continuous buffing until it shows a gloss. The Hermes symbol on the bag will include two apostrophes (‘’) to identify it as “Niloticus”.
Crocodile Porosus Matte and Shiny (Lisse)
This Crocodile is farmed in Australia and Southeast Asian countries like Singapore. Considered by many to be the premier Hermes leather and noted for its fine, symmetrical scale pattern. The shine comes from constant buffing of the skin with stone until it shines. The Hermes logo will include the symbol ^ to identify it as “Porosus”.
Hermes Alligator Matte and Shiny (Lisse)
The Alligator that Hermes uses is “Alligator Mississippiensis” and is farmed in Florida. Alligator leather has an umbilical scar, which is an elongated irregular shape with a webbing pattern in it, which is often placed prominently on products to show the authenticity of the leather. This means that the patterning of the alligator scales is not as uniform. Alligator has small rectangular scales in the middle and smaller, oval-shaped scales down the sides (shown here). Alligator is commonly dyed in a variety of colors. The Hermes logo will include a square symbol to identify it as “Alligator”.
Varanus Salvator Water Monitor Lizard
This stunning exotic is crafted from the hide of a water monitor. Owing to the size of the hide, it is mostly used in 25cm Birkin’s, smaller bags and small leather goods. The smaller scales give this leather a shine or iridescence. The Hermes logo will include an equal sign (=) to identify it was Salvator Lizard.
Varanus Niloticus Water Monitor Lizard
The small scales of this leather made from Monitor Lizard from Africa’s Nile River. provides a shiny look. The Hermes logo will include an dash sign (-) to identify it was Niloticus Lizard.
Ostrich leather comes from Struthio Camellus, farmed in South Africa. This is a dynamic leather that will darken from contact with your hands and also lighten with exposure to light. Ostrich leather is known for its distinctive “polka dotted” look, which is caused by the plucking of quills. Ostrich is very delicate and rare.
Hermes Peau Porc
Made of pigskin and very lightweight. The pores are small dots and this skin is commonly a caramel color that develops a patina over time. This is one of Hermes’ classic leathers but is no longer produced due to the controversy of using pigskin.
Other Hermes Materials
Woven linen in herringbone or chevron pattern. Used in dustbags and linings of certain bags.
Linen, usually used in conjunction with a leather on the bags. Weave is similar in strength and appearance to fire hose material. Commonly used in Garden Party bags.
Canvas is a heavy weight cloth that is treated and is usually combined with other leathers. Commonly used in the Herbag.
Hermes Color List
This is an incomplete list of Hermes colors. Please note, colors are often seasonal or special ordered and are not released frequently, or have been discontinued entirely. Visit the Purse Forum for more information.
|Etoupe||Gris Paris||Cognac||Potiron||Rouge Casaque|
|Fauve||Gris Perle||Ebene||Sanguine||Rouge Garance|
|Gold||Gris Souris||Ecorce||Rouge H|
|Kraft||Gris Tourterelle||Havane||Rouge Imperial|
|Natural||Plomb||Marron d'lnde||Rouge Indien|
|Noisette||Marron Fonce||Rouge Moyen|
|Tabac Camel||Rouille||Rouge Vif|
|Bois de Rose||Amethyst||Bleu Atoll||Bamboo||Cumin|
|Fuchsia||Crocus||Bleu Brighton||Eucalyptus||Jaune d'Or|
|Peche||Cyclamen||Bleu de Galice||Granny||Jaune Poussin|
|Pink||Iris||Bleu de Malte||Kiwi||Lime|
|Rose Confetti||Mauve||Bleu de Prusse||Lichen||Mimosa|
|Rose des Sables||Parme||Bleu Electrique||Malachite||Moutarde|
|Rose Dragee||Prune||Bleu France||Menthe||Soleil|
|Rose Jaipur||Raisin||Bleu Hydra||Pelouse||Soufre|
|Rose Lipstick||Ultraviolet||Bleu Indigo||Pistache|
|Rose Sheherazade||Violet||Bleu Izmir||Toundra|
|Rose Shocking||Bleu Jean||Vert Anglais|
|Rose Tea||Bleu Lin||Vert Anis|
|Rose Tyrien||Bleu Obscur||Vert Bengale|
|Rosy||Bleu Ocean||Vert Bronze|
|Rubis||Bleu Orage||Vert Caucase|
|Tosca||Bleu Pale||Vert de Gris|
|Bleu Paon||Vert Emeraude|
|Bleu Paradis||Vert Fonce|
|Bleu Saphir||Vert Olive|
|Bleu Tempete||Vert Veronese|