• Birkin Bag vs Kelly Bag

    by  • 20 Jan ’07 • Hermès • 12 Comments

    As if this were a real debate, which of these two iconic bags would I choose? Kelly or Birkin? My husband’s vote is for neither, as he claims, the cost of either bag is more than the gross national product of a small Central American country. But for today I can weigh the options and daydream!

    While both bags exude money (old, new, discreet, flashy), each signals to the world, or at least to an international pack of fashionistas, a very different style. For the uninitiated, these bags, which start at about $7,000 (£3000) and can top $25,000 (£12,000) depending on hide and hue, are named for a duo of beautiful women.

    The Kelly Bag:
    Philadelphia-born Grace Kelly had been wed less than a year to Prince Rainier of Monaco when she deftly obscured her royal pregnancy with a structured, crocodile Hermes purse on a 1956 Life magazine cover.

    The Birkin Bag:
    By contrast, it was during a 1981 airplane flight that the British-born actress-singer Jane Birkin’s overstuffed purse spilled in the vicinity of Jean-Louis Dumas-Hermes. Three years later, the firm introduced a bag for Birkin’s more bohemian lifestyle based on an 1892 design. In a splendid bit of irony, Birkin recently confessed she barely used her bag because it had proved hazardous to her health (citing tendonitis).

    Both the Kelly and the Birkin are crafted entirely by hand by a single artisan from start to finish, and embellished with a petite padlock, keys and gleaming hardware made of white or yellow gold.

    But why, exactly, are they so expensive and so obsessively coveted? For starters, they are beautifully made. A single artisan can spend up to 25 hours painstakingly constructing a Kelly or Birkin. And, of course, there is the immutable law of supply, and demand at work here. Make something fabulous, in famously limited quantities, and people will clamor to own it. Myself included.

    So which will it be? A Kelly or a Birkin? Fortunately (or unfortunately) it is a decision I don’t have to make today.

    12 Responses to Birkin Bag vs Kelly Bag

    1. My Marrakech
      20 Jan ’07 at 11:10 am

      I actually love handbags. Recently I have been coveting a B&D Crawford in white. It’s a little South beach. But maybe I have some hidden trashy girl in me.

    2. Anna
      20 Jan ’07 at 11:17 am

      My choice (for what it’s worth) is the Birkin. I love it and always will.


    3. the preppy princess
      20 Jan ’07 at 3:32 pm

      Personally, I favor the Birkin!

    4. The Peak of Chic
      20 Jan ’07 at 9:39 pm

      I too vote for the Birkin! Or maybe the Kelly?? I don’t know- both are beautiful and so classic.

      21 Jan ’07 at 5:00 pm

      OK, all things being equal I’d choose the Birkin. However, realistically, from a financial standpoint (with lots of saving) I stand the best chances of a Kelly. But, I’ll happily take it!!!!

    6. VDOprincess
      23 Jan ’07 at 3:47 pm

      I’m a Kelly girl, myself. I do so love ladylike handbags….

    7. Elizabeth H.
      29 Jan ’07 at 2:14 pm


    8. paola
      16 Apr ’07 at 9:21 pm

      The Birkin all the way. I’m just NOT ladylike (and I love Jane Birkin).

    9. patriciagrayinc.com
      1 Jul ’07 at 10:00 pm

      Birkin Bag for me…have wanted one since I was 19. Maybe one day.
      I have a cut-out picture of a red Birken on my bulletin board and live on the edge by going into thr Hermes store periodically and seeing if they have one to look at and then go home and dream about. If I owned the Birken, that is the only bag I would need. Period.

    10. Anonymous
      12 Apr ’08 at 2:11 pm

      definitely the birkin- casual chic

    11. Pola
      26 Apr ’08 at 11:37 am

      Definitely Birkin! Stylish, classic, yet not so rigidly classic as the Kelly bag. The Birkin is more versatile, can be used both for formal and informal occasions. The Kelly is strictly classic.

      If you want a Birkin like made with quality, try the brand Arfango. Their site is under construction, but they have some store in the US for sure. The full price should be around $600, and the outlet price around $400.

    12. Hated by Many.
      28 Apr ’09 at 6:59 am

      I own a Kelly & I prefer it to the birkin hands down, it's so classic.

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