The History Of Hermes Handbags

Hermes handbags stand as a symbol of luxury and timeless style. Originating from a brand with a rich history, these handbags have become a must-have item for fashion enthusiasts globally.

The History
Of Hermes Handbags

Hermes handbags stand as a symbol of luxury and timeless style. Originating from a brand with a rich history, these handbags have become a must-have item for fashion enthusiasts globally. From its humble beginnings as a small Parisian workshop, Hermes has grown into a fashion powerhouse, with its handbags being some of the most sought-after accessories in the world. 

As we trace back the roots of Hermes, we'll explore how it became synonymous with high-end fashion. This journey through time showcases the evolution of Hermes handbags, from their creation to becoming iconic pieces that effortlessly blend tradition with modern elegance.

The Creation Of The Hermes Brand - 1837

The Creation Of The Hermes Brand - 1837

The story of Hermes began in 1837 in the bustling heart of Paris, specifically in the Grands Boulevards quarter. Thierry Hermes, the founder, initiated this luxury brand with the singular aim of crafting high-quality harnesses and bridles for the carriages of European noblemen. During this period, horse-drawn carriages were a common mode of transportation among the aristocracy, and the demand for top-notch harnesses and bridles was substantial. Hermes swiftly garnered a reputation for its exceptional craftsmanship, serving some of the most distinguished noblemen of the era. 

The brand was solely dedicated to perfecting the art of harness and bridle making, becoming a hallmark of quality and precision in this niche. This initial focus paved the way for Hermes' venture into other realms of luxury in the subsequent years. Through the years, the brand's dedication to quality and excellence remained unwavering, setting a robust foundation for the diverse luxury empire that Hermes would eventually evolve into.

The Oldest Hermes
Bag - 1892

The Oldest Hermes Bag - 1892

The 'Haut a Courroies' bag, often abbreviated as HAC, holds the distinction of being the very first bag created by Hermès. This iconic piece was birthed in the early 20th century, with its roots traced back to 1892 in a French harness workshop. The primary purpose of this bag was to cater to horse riders' needs, offering a sophisticated means to carry saddles and riding boots. The design of the 'Haut a Courroies' bag was practical and ingenious, making life considerably easier for riders while also extending an early expression of elegance to them.

The name 'Haut a Courroies' translates to 'high belts' in French, which is a nod to the bag's design that featured closure straps (sangles) encircling the top of the bag. The structure of the bag was initially imposing in size, with a slightly elongated horizontal dimension, while the short top handles made it comfortable to hold. This bag was not just a functional accessory but also a hallmark of the Hermès tradition of saddle-making, symbolising the brand's heritage and its initial focus on serving the equestrian community.

This bag's design was so pioneering that it laid down the blueprint for many Hermès bags that followed, embodying the brand's essence of combining functionality with elegance. Over the years, the 'Haut a Courroies' bag has seen various interpretations, evolving with the times while retaining its core identity tied to Hermès' equestrian roots. It stands as a testament to Hermès' enduring tradition of crafting functional, elegant, and timeless accessories, laying a solid foundation for the brand's foray into the world of luxury handbags​.

The First Hermes
Handbag - 1922

The First Hermes Handbag - 1922

In 1922, the narrative of Hermes took a significant turn with the creation of its first leather handbag, a move inspired by a personal request from Émile-Maurice Hermes' wife. She had expressed dissatisfaction over not being able to find a handbag to her taste, prompting Émile-Maurice to take the matter into his own hands, quite literally​​.

This creation was not merely an answer to a casual complaint but a reflection of a deep understanding of design and functionality. Émile-Maurice, the grandson of Thierry Hermes, showcased his innovative spirit by personally designing a collection of handbags for his wife​. This personal touch not only met his wife’s desires but also set a precedent in the luxury handbag realm.

This first handbag was a smaller rendition of the ‘Haut a Courroies’ bag. The adaptation of the design into a women’s handbag was a brilliant stroke of creativity that blended the brand's equestrian roots with evolving fashion trends, marking Hermes' venture into leather handbags​​. This transformation was a masterstroke that heralded Hermes’ enduring legacy in the luxury handbag sector, paving the way for the brand's iconic collections that would follow.

Hermes Releases Women’s Couture Apparel Collection - 1929

Hermes Releases Women’s Couture Apparel Collection - 1929

In 1929, Hermes broadened its horizon beyond leather goods and equestrian accessories by introducing its first women's couture apparel collection. This significant move was unveiled in Paris, featuring a range of garments including bathing outfits, marking Hermes' debut in the haute couture realm. This transformation showcased Hermes' versatility and its ability to adapt to the evolving fashion landscape. 

The couture collection debut was a strategic expansion, leveraging the brand's already established reputation for quality and craftsmanship. It reflected a new era of innovation for Hermes, while still embodying the brand's traditional ethos of superior craftsmanship. 

The 1929 couture collection not only enriched Hermes' fashion portfolio but also paved the way for its evolving identity as a comprehensive luxury fashion house, setting a robust foundation for its future endeavours in the global fashion arena​​.

The Release Of The Iconic Kelly Bag - 1935

The Release Of The Iconic Kelly Bag - 1935

In 1935, Hermès unveiled a refined leather handbag named the 'Sac à dépêches,' a masterpiece born from the creative vision of Robert Dumas. Dumas drew inspiration from a 1923 bag, known as the "Haut à courroies," and transformed it into the 'Sac à dépêches.' This reinvention was tailored to cater to independent and dynamic women, embodying a fusion of elegance and practicality. The design symbolised nobility, with an essence of understated sophistication, blending glamour seamlessly with functionality.

However, the bag's journey to iconic status began two decades later when, in 1956, American actress and Monégasque princess Grace Kelly was photographed carrying the 'Sac à dépêches' to shield her baby bump from the paparazzi. This photograph, featured in Life Magazine, became iconic and was showcased in multiple newspapers and magazines globally. The image created an iconic status for the bag, which was then renamed the 'Kelly Bag' in honour of Grace Kelly. The bag quickly transformed into a symbol of elegance and an expensive status symbol admired and desired by many around the world​​.

The 'Kelly Bag' epitomises the blend of luxury and practicality, and its renaming after Grace Kelly not only marked a significant milestone in the fashion world but also cemented Hermes' position in the luxury handbag market. The association with Grace Kelly added a royal touch to the brand's image, reflecting a blend of timeless elegance and modern fashion appeal.

The Trim Bag Takes a Fashionable Turn - 1958

The Trim Bag Takes a Fashionable Turn - 1958

The Trim bag is a remarkable piece in Hermès’ collection, illustrating a beautiful blend of practicality and feminine elegance. Originally, the Trim bag was employed during the horse and carriage era, filled with hay and placed around the neck of horses serving as a mobile manger. However, in 1958, Hermès revisited this design, transforming it from a mini-picnic kit into a stylish ladies' holdall. The original hook was also creatively altered into a belt buckle, adding a chic touch to its functionality​​.

This redesign was more than just a makeover; it was a rebirth that showcased the brand's ability to innovate and adapt to the changing fashion landscapes. The Trim bag became one of Jackie Kennedy’s go-to bags, manifesting a curved top and a rectangular bottom that exuded a classic elegance​​. Inspired by a large pouch to hold close to oneself, the bag's thin strap could be adjusted, and it featured refined leather patch patterns on the top and bottom edges, making it a solid choice for anyone seeking a reliable everyday bag​​.

This transition from a practical carriage accessory to a refined women's holdall reflects Hermès' enduring legacy of reimagining and evolving its creations to meet the fashion desires of the time while preserving its rich heritage.

The Birkin Bag - 1984

The Birkin Bag - 1984

The iconic Birkin bag has a unique origin story that traces back to 1984, arising from a serendipitous encounter between British actress Jane Birkin and Hermès CEO Jean-Louis Dumas on a flight from Paris to London. During their conversation, Birkin candidly expressed her need for a bag that was both practical and stylish, recounting her struggle with a straw bag on that very flight, which led to an unfortunate spillage of its contents. Inspired by this chance encounter and drawing inspiration from the equestrian heritage of the HAC (Haut à Courroies) bag, Dumas saw an opportunity to create a handbag that would fulfil Birkin's functional requirements while embodying a sense of distinct fashion.

The Birkin bag rapidly ascended to the zenith of desirability and exclusivity within the fashion world, swiftly becoming an emblem of luxury and status. Characterised by its enduring design, which paid homage to the equestrian roots of the HAC bag, and accompanied by a substantial price tag, it emerged as one of the most sought-after designer handbags worldwide. The narrative behind its creation, entwined with an impromptu meeting, the solution to Jane Birkin's practical need for a stylish yet functional bag, and the homage to the HAC bag's equestrian legacy, only heightened its inherent allure and prestige.

Today, the demand for the Birkin bag is sky-high, seen as a smart buy or a mark of good fashion taste. Its tie to Jane Birkin, a well-liked name in both film and fashion, keeps it popular and a sought-after item among those who love and collect high-end fashion pieces.

Hermès Brand Ethos

Hermès Brand Ethos

Hermès embodies a brand ethos that seamlessly blends tradition with contemporary style, solidifying its presence as a prominent player in today's fashion culture. Central to this ethos is a commitment to timeless designs and uncompromising craftsmanship.

New Collections

The brand continuously refreshes its offerings to stay in tune with modern fashion trends, unveiling new collections that captivate the discerning tastes of fashion enthusiasts. For instance, Hermès recently introduced a range of new bags for both the Spring/Summer 2023 and Winter 2023 collections, showcasing their dedication to offering a diverse array of fashion-forward designs each season.

Iconic Birkin & Kelly Bags

At the heart of Hermès' allure are the iconic Birkin and Kelly bags, perpetually in high demand. Notably, the resurgence of larger-sized bags, such as the Birkin 35, has caused their auction prices to ascend, with leather Birkin 35 bags experiencing a remarkable 34% price increase in the first quarter of 2023. The Kelly 28 has similarly witnessed a surge in value, with select variations commanding auction prices that have soared by up to 33%.

Balancing Tradition and Contemporary Style

Hermès' unwavering adherence to its brand ethos, characterised by a fusion of heritage and modernity, has positioned it as a leading force in the luxury fashion market. The deliberate avoidance of mass production and the relentless pursuit of quality have elevated Hermès to a level of enduring desirability among discerning consumers, ensuring its perpetual relevance in the ever-evolving world of fashion.

Browse Our Hermes Handbags

The legacy of Hermes handbags, woven with tales of innovation and luxury, continues to be a coveted emblem of timeless elegance in today's fashion narrative. Discover a curated collection of Hermes handbags at Rich Diamonds, your gateway to owning a piece of fashion history.

Browse Hermes Handbags