Classic and timeless handbag design is practically synonymous with the Hermès name. The brand has a rich history of crafting handbags that have become legendary in the world of fashion. And it goes far beyond the holy grail Birkin and Kelly.
While Hermès constantly innovates and introduces new designs to its collection, there is something undeniably appealing about many Hermès bags in the archives. So much so that we’d like to see them make a comeback. We explore five discontinued bags we wish would return to the Hermès lineup, each with its unique charm and appeal.
It’s difficult to improve on a well-designed classic like the Hermès Constance, but the Constance Elan certainly comes close. The original Constance was released in 1959 and quickly became a symbol of understated luxury. And notice it predated the Birkin by decades. Notable for its clean and minimalist square-shaped design, with the iconic ‘H’ closure, two sizes were offered: 23cm and 18cm.
In 2010, Hermès reimagined its design by elongating the Constance body into an east-west silhouette. This lends the bag a sleek and modern appearance compared to the classic Constance’s square shape. This elongation adds an extra touch of sophistication to the Constance Elan, making it an excellent choice for those seeking a more contemporary look.
The Constance Elan retained the signature ‘H’ closure, and the convertible shoulder strap that facilitates crossbody wear. This versatility makes the Constance Elan a great day-to-night companion, capable of elevating any outfit. Originally available in both sizes 25 and 29, the Constance Elan has since retired from production. While the Constance Elan may no longer be available, Hermès has continued to reimagine classics with the ‘Elan’ twist. Today you can find the highly coveted re-released Kelly Elan in boutiques. Could Elan Constance be next on the revival list? We hope so.
A rare gem launched back in 1987, the Hermès Kelly Sport offers a casual and laid-back interpretation of the iconic Kelly handbag. Where the classic Hermès Kelly exudes timeless elegance, the Kelly Sport offers a refreshing and versatile twist.
Although the silhouette differs from the Kelly, there’s no mistaking that the Kelly Sport is of the same family tree. The trapezoidal shape of the bag is defined by clean lines and narrows at the opening. It features an open-top secured only by a fastening, rather than a flap. Nevertheless, the hallmark Hermès Kelly sangles and touret fastening ensure that this bag identifies as an Hermès Kelly option. Designed to be worn as a shoulder bag, the Kelly Sport also works well crossbody for an even more pared-down look.
The Kelly Sport was available in two sizes – both equally practical options for daily use. The first is the PM (petit modèle), measuring a small yet practical 7.8 x 3.3 x 9.4” – ideal for stylishly running errands. Then there’s the GM (grand modèle) which boasts more generous dimensions – 11.81 x 3.54 x 13.78”. The GM size is significantly larger and offers ample space for your essentials and more while maintaining the chic style of the Kelly Sport.
While the Kelly Sport may have been a product of its time, its timeless allure and minimal design still resonates with Hermès lovers today.
Going back further into the Hermès vault . . . meet the Lydie bag, a true treasure from 1975. The Lydie’s allure lies in its distinctive envelope-style design and the iconic ‘H” hardware adorning its front, making it instantly recognizable as a Hermès classic.
One standout feature of the Lydie’s is its versatility. Elegant in design, the Lydie features a detachable shoulder strap, effortlessly transforming it from a chic shoulder bag to an evening-ready clutch. When it comes to size, the Lydie measures 9.75 x 6.5 x 1”.
The Lydie is most often found in Veau Box leather, a timeless option from the fashion house. However, Hermès enthusiasts may be fortunate enough to discover vintage Lydie bags crafted from exotic leathers, such as shiny lizard, and Porous crocodile. Additionally, the Lydie was occasionally released in canvas and calf suede.
With its compact yet spacious design, the Lydie provides plenty of room for essentials, without compromising on timeless style. The Lydie certainly wouldn’t look out of place today with its minimalist aesthetic.
The JPG Shoulder Birkin & Kelly
Imagine the classic Birkin and Kelly bags but with the added versatility of a shoulder strap and elongated design. The JPG Shoulder Birkin, originally designed by Jean-Paul Gaultier, was first unveiled in Gaultier’s first collection in 2004 for Hermès.
Produced from 2004 to 2013, the JPG Shoulder Birkin was available in several colors, and materials, including some rare exotic options such as crocodile, and ostrich.
The JPG Birkin has exaggerated top handles that can be comfortably worn on the shoulder. This design tweak offers a more versatile approach than the classic top-handle, which is practical for a hands-free approach. While the bag is elongated in length – 42cm to be exact, the silhouette remains loyal to the iconic Birkin. No doubt it will always be in fashion.
A similar story unfolds with the Hermès Shoulder Kelly – another casual variation of the classic Kelly, released by Jean Paul Gaultier in 2009, following the success of the JPG Birkin. This 42cm Kelly bag features a singular extended top handle for both comfort and style.
The ultra-rare Micro Birkin debuted in Gaultier’s very last Hermès collection in 2011. This pint-sized variation was meticulously designed with the same attention to detail as its larger siblings.
The smallest member of the Birkin family measures a miniature 5.51 x 3.15 x 1.18”. Otherwise known as the Birkin 15, this petite masterpiece still packs a punch. The limited-edition design features a dainty and detachable shoulder strap for crossbody or shoulder wear, along with tiny top handles that are hard to resist.
Although the Micro Birkin is sadly no longer in production by Hermès, it certainly has left its mark on the fashion industry, coveted by celebrities and Hermès collectors alike. With the ongoing craze for petite handbags, Hermès’ reissued Mini Kelly (or Kelly 20) is highly coveted and hard to get. The recent and limited release of a Mini Birkin (or Birkin 20) is also making waves among Hermès fans.
So, what’s the difference between a Mini Birkin and a Micro Birkin? Well, first it’s size: the Mini measures 20cm, the Micro 15cm. And unlike the Micro Birkin of the past, the Mini does not include a shoulder strap. With the incredible shrinking of purses, perhaps we can hope to witness a resurgence of the Micro Birkin.
What are your thoughts on these five bags? Do you adore the JPG Shoulder Birkin and Kelly, or is the chic Constance Elan your favorite? Feel free to share if you have any of these vintage gems tucked away in your closet.
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Updated: October 1st, 2023