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10 Best Hermes Kelly Bag Alternatives for Every Quiet Luxury Budget


Three letters often come up in the course of discussion regarding luxury handbags: BKC. Those who know will recognise the letters as representatives of the three most covetable bags from French luxury Maison Hermes. The (B)irkin, the (K)elly, and the (C)onstance. Of the three, the Kelly is the oldest and perhaps most storied, given its lineage that can be traced back to both Golden Age Hollywood and literal royalty. However, if you’re seeking a classic handbag that screams quiet luxury just as loudly, these Hermes Kelly alternatives are worth the investment.

Introduced back in 1935, the original Hermès Kelly design was initially known as the Sac à dépêches, or ‘dispatch bag’ in English. The design brief was simple, taking evolutionary cues from an even earlier version known as the Haut à courroies bag, which was favoured by jockeys for use on the equestrian circuit.

Prior to gaining global acclaim, the Sac à dépêches served a rather solitary purpose of carrying documents and papers neatly without causing wrinkles or creases, leading to its slim profile and almost briefcase-like sensibilities. However, the bag would go on to attract another segment of clientele; wealthy women from the period who wanted a handbag that was in equal parts elegant, understated, and practical.

In that regard, the bag delivered with aplomb with its trapezoidal shape and sleek lines, complete with a flap opening that was secured by the now signature Hermes touret and leather sangles adorned with metal plaques.

While it gained steady popularity among the fashion set, it wouldn’t be until the bag was seen on Hollywood actress and Monaco royalty, Princess Grace Kelly, did it truly take on the title of an ‘It Bag’ in its own right. One of the most photographed women in the 50s, Kelly’s fame as a silver-screen star was cemented into legend when she married Prince Rainier III of Monaco.

As is the case with celebrity product placements of today, photos of the Hermes Sac à dépêches bag were widely circulated across the globe when Kelly famously used it to hide her baby bump from the view of the paparazzi. Thus, the bag was renamed the Hermes Kelly in her honour and one of the most iconic women’s bags in the world was born.

But of course, Hermès bags don’t come cheap and that is most certainly the case with the Kelly, often fetching minimum figures of well over US$11,000 for a seasoned and well-loved example on the secondary market.

That isn’t to say that you wouldn’t be able to find an alternative that could serve as a potential substitute for the Hermes Kelly, echoing the very same classic, quiet luxury appeal but at a more attainable price point. Here are our top picks for the best Hermes Kelly bag alternative styles to look out for in luxury fashion.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1. Do Kelly bags increase in value?

– Yes, Hermes Kelly bags will always increase in value. However, how much it is due to increase depends on the style, material, colour, and condition of each individual bag. 

2. What is more popular Kelly or Birkin?
– Both the Kelly and Birkin bags are equally covetable among luxury enthusiasts and are known to be notoriously hard to obtain.

10 best Hermes Kelly bag alternatives for every budget:





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