Guide to Hermès Special Orders in 2024

As the snow begins to melt and the first signs of Spring bloom, it beckons a new season at Hermès: a time to place a Special Order for a handbag, also known as an a la carte bag. Being invited to create and order a custom Hermès bag (within defined limits) is an exclusive and treasured opportunity which then catapults you into the so-called “Horseshoe Club.” It is one of the most exciting experiences for a Hermès lover.

photo courtesy @ctuongh

The epitome of handbag haute couture, a custom-made Hermès bag is a unique piece designed according to your personal preferences for color, leather, hardware, and stitching. Some bags are easily identifiable as a Special Order creation and others are more subtle. But a true Hermès aficionado can almost always spot a custom Special Order Hermès bag.

photo courtesy @viiiii5

For those that might be newer to Hermès, twice a year (in the Spring and Fall), individual boutiques are permitted to designate a limited number of clients to place a Special Order for an a la carte handbag. Although the process for placing the Special Order has recently changed, the opportunity to create one is momentous and, for some, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

photo courtesy @mywardrobediaries

Here is everything you need to know about placing an a la carte order with Hermès: recent changes in the process, available colors, style of bag choices, hardware and leather choices, and answers to all of your questions.

What Is A Hermès Special Order

A select number of Hermès clients are given the opportunity to create a truly special bag of their dreams either during the Spring or Fall season. Although many bag styles (whether quota or non-quota) may be created as a special order, most people choose the Birkin in size 25, 30, 35, or 40 (Retourne or Sellier), the Kelly in size 20, 25, 28, 32 or 35 (Retourne or Sellier), the Kelly Pochette, or the Constance.

There may also be the option to choose a non-quota bag instead to customize such as the Picotin, Bolide, Jige, Lindy, Roulis, etc.

photo courtesy @jan_patamapun

During the Special Order process only certain aspects of the bag may be customized. For example, you cannot veer from the stated dimensions or shape of the styles, or put a Constance closure on a Kelly. 

These are the items subject to customization: 

  • type of bag
  • size of bag 
  • leather 
  • color 
  • single color with contrasting stitching (referred to as ‘line’)
  • bi-color (referred to as ‘multico’)
  • different color inside bag (referred to as ‘verso’)
  • hardware 
  • stitching color
  • shoulder strap length 

Your SA will guide you in your choices based on their expertise but it is ultimately your decision. However, there are limitations and exceptions. 

photo courtesy @bagsionista

Horseshoe Stamp

Receiving an invitation to craft a bespoke Hermès bag is a rare honor reserved for the fortunate few. Every bag created through the Special Order process arrives with a horseshoe imprint next to the iconic “Hermès Paris” stamp. Hermès began using the horseshoe stamp (“HSS”) over 10 years ago to signify the bag is an exclusive Special Order. The discreet horseshoe imprint serves as an exclusive symbol, signaling a high status as a valued and loyal customer.

In the view of most Hermès bag collectors, a bag with a horseshoe stamp is extremely rare whether created by the owner, offered in store, or purchased on the resale market. It is a stamp of honor in a sense and places the owner within the (unofficial) “Hermès Horseshoe Club.” Often, a bag with a horseshoe stamp will command a premium on the resale market.

photo courtesy @pursebop

Details, Limitations and Exceptions

Bag Style

  • Birkin 25, 30, 35, 40 Retourne or Sellier
  • Kelly 20, 25, 28, 32, 35 Retourne or Sellier
  • Kelly Pochette but at times excluded 
  • Many non-quota bags are available but may vary by location
  • Constance 18, 1-24


  • Gold and Palladium hardware is available for all bags
  • Rose Gold is also available but may vary by location
  • Brushed gold and brushed palladium hardware are only available on a Special Order bag and are NOT available on a Mini Kelly
  • Permabrass hardware is only available on a Special Order bag and may be chosen for a Mini Kelly


  • Choose contrast stitching in a color that will pop on the leather or choose tone on tone stitching so it blends in with the color of the leather.

Leather Choices:

  • Epsom, Chevre, Togo, Clemence, Ostrich, Crocodile, Alligator
  • Not everyone may order an exotic (ostrich, crocodile, alligator) bag. This is usually reserved for the VVIP client. Your SA will advise you if an exotic bag is available to you.

Leather Color:

There are three color combinations you may choose: line, verso, or multico

  • Line: The outside and inside of the bag are the same color and contrast stitching is chosen
  • Verso: the outside of the bag will be the primary color and the interior color will be a different color chosen from the “lining” color list.
  • Multico: this is a bi-color bag where the front, back, and bottom of the bag will be the primary color, and the sangles, handle, shoulder strap, and sides of the bag will be the secondary color. The inside of a bi-color bag will be the primary color.
  • There is a large red box with leather and color samples that is helpful when choosing colors and leather.
  • Hermès no longer allows the creation of tri-color bags 

Shoulder Strap Lengths

  • Choose from 70cm, 85cm, 105cm, 120cm

Personal Touches

  • Initials on the clochette may be added
  • Metal motifs may be added: horse’s head, shooting star, heart with a keyhole, a four-leaf clover, and more.

photo courtesy @highend habits

Recent Changes To The Process of Placing a Special Order

Once you have been invited to create an individualized Special Order bag, the creative process begins. After all the details are chosen, the final design is sent to Hermès in France for approval and creation.

Prior to the fall of 2023, the details were recorded on paper forms outlining the choices. The large red box containing the leather color samples, hardware choices, and stitching choices provided everything needed to complete the order.

hermes special order | hermes a la carte

Image courtesy @rattilovesseoul

In 2023 Hermès initiated the use of an iPad to assist in creating a Special Order. All the steps may now be completed digitally on the iPad. The primary advantage of using this method is the iPad creates a “mock-up” of exactly how your bag will look with the colors, leather, hardware, and stitching choices. If you do not like the look, the system allows you to experiment and make  changes before submitting the final choices. 

photo courtesy @Red App

photo courtesy The Red App

At the end of the ordering process the iPad provides a picture of exactly what the bag will look like upon arrival from France. The style, size of bag, leather, colors, stitching and hardware are all visible in the final picture. Usually an email is sent confirming the placing of your order including a photo of the final “mock-up.”

It is an amazing advantage to receive a picture of the finished product months before it will arrive.

2024 Special Order Color Charts

The 2024 predetermined color choices for each leather, ostrich, crocodile, and alligator are listed below. There is a separate list of color choices for the interior linings of verso bags. The colors change each year and are based on the availability of the leather and colors for the current year.

photo courtesy @thehermesclub

photo courtesy @thehermesclub

photo courtesy @thehermesclub

There is a large red box that contains all the elements that can be customized in a Special Order. The box is a valuable tool to assist in choosing the individual elements that may be personalized. It provides the opportunity to pair the leather, color, hardware, and stitching samples together in person. The iPad then compiles those choices into a life size version of the bag you have ordered. 

photo courtesy @missybunny.happybuys

Answers To Commonly Asked Questions

How Long Does Your Special Order Bag Take to Arrive?

Once your order is placed by your SA, the hard part begins. Waiting . . .

Generally, it takes approximately 6 to 18 months for your Special Order bag to arrive from France. Exotic bags often take longer and may arrive 2-3 years after placing the order. 

photo courtesy @bagssionate

When Does A Client Pay for the Special Order Bag

A Special Order bag is not paid for until the bag arrives from France and it is presented to the client. The client has the option to accept or reject the bag with no obligation to purchase. 

Many things may have changed during the waiting period for the bag to arrive. The client may have received an offer from the boutique that is similar to what was ordered. Life changes may have occurred making the acceptance of the bag impossible. Or changes may have been made by Hermès during the creation of the bag that may not be acceptable to the client. 

If the bag is rejected, it then becomes a part of that store’s inventory and may be made available as a store offer to other clients.

photo courtesy @stellaw2021

What is the Cost of the Special Order Bag?

The price of the bag is the price at the time of receipt, not when it was ordered, based on comparable bags in stock. Special order bags are not priced higher than non-special order bags with the same leather and hardware. This is true even if the Special Order bag has two leather colors, special hardware, contrast stitching, or a longer shoulder strap.

photo courtesy @blondieluxe

Does Hermès Ever Reject or Abandon a Special Order?

Hermès has the option to reject or amend the proposed Special Order. It is a rare occurrence and tends to be for one of these reasons: the unexpected unavailability of the leather or color rendering the materials scarce, or the submitted choice was not one of the pre-approved options. 

Although less common, there are circumstances that could cause Hermès to change or restrict the choices initially offered. For example, a few years ago 5P pink crocodile was on the Special Order Color Chart. This exotic color is extremely rare and über popular. As a result, it was chosen by many clients. Hermès was unable to fill all the orders and some clients were advised to change their color choice.

photo courtesy @panthere_instyle

What Happens if A Client Rejects A Special Order Bag?

A client is under no obligation to accept the Special Order they created. Circumstances may have changed during the waiting period between placing the order and receiving the order. If the bag is rejected it becomes part of the available inventory in that boutique to be offered to another client. 

Hermès’ Paris stores (and occasionally new store openings) sometimes create their own Special Order bags (usually bi-color) to be offered to clients with leather appointments in store. The bag will have the horseshoe stamp and will likely be in two complementary colors. This bag costs the same as a non Special Order bag in the same size and leather. It is an incredible offer to be presented with a Special Order creation that was made for the boutique.

photo courtesy @jccchannel

How To Ask Your SA for a Special Order Opportunity?

Building a relationship with your SA is crucial in so many ways. Not only do they get to know your tastes and style, but they also know your collection and your handbag wishes. Remaining open and honest with your SA builds a trust which leads to a discussion of future bag possibilities. 

When submitting a wishlist of bags to the SA, consider including a Special Order as one of the options. If your desired choices are rare colors or styles, this may be an opportunity to discuss whether creating a Special Order would result in your dream bag.

Not every SA is permitted to invite a client every season. Many boutiques (particularly in large cities) must rotate the opportunity due to the large number of SAs and clients. As with all things Hermès, the SA will submit the name(s) to be considered for a Special Order but ultimately it is the manager’s decision to grant or deny the request.

photo courtesy @viiiii5

How to Qualify for a Special Order?

Loyalty to the brand and a good relationship with your SA are the keys to everything at Hermès. Historically, Special Orders were granted to VIP clients with a long history with the brand and their SA. More recently, Hermès has been offering this unique privilege to clients who have never had the opportunity before, whether a long time client or newer client. 

photo courtesy @imblueueue

Do You Have to Spend While Waiting for a Special Order Bag to Arrive?

There is no obligation to spend on other items or further build a purchase history while waiting for your Special Order to arrive. The Special Order will arrive with your name affixed to it and be offered to you. However, maintaining your relationship with your SA and the brand is always a good idea, but never required.

photo courtesy @stellaw2021

What if Your Special Order Bag Arrives After You Have Met Your Quota for the Year?

If your Special Order bag arrives after you have received two quota bags for the year, there are several possibilities. The manager of your boutique may make an exception and allow the bag to be released. Alternatively, the manager may hold the bag until the new year begins and then allow your SA to present the bag at that time. In these circumstances, the timing of receipt will depend upon the manager’s discretion.

photo courtesy @panthere_instyle

Final Thoughts

Receiving an invitation to craft a timeless bespoke Hermès bag is a rare honor reserved for the fortunate few. The discreet horseshoe imprint serves as an exclusive symbol, elevating one’s standing as a valued and devoted client of the luxury maison. Once ordered, waiting for its arrival is the hardest part. In 6-18 months, when you least expect it, a call, text or email will appear from your SA advising that your Special Order has arrived.

The process is very exciting, sometimes stressful, and exclusive. Although the waiting is the hardest part, when your customized creation arrives all those emotions magically disappear.

photo courtesy @hpluxe

More of your questions about Special Orders have been answered in detail by Dear PurseBop. Click here for all the questions and answers in our Dear PurseBop portal.

Share your Special Order stories and photos of your creations with us. We love to share your successes with our community members.

photo courtesy @jns.ake

Love, PurseBop


Published: March 30th, 2024
Updated: March 31st, 2024

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