The Exclusive Hermes Horseshoe Club
Owning a Hermes Birkin or Kelly puts you in pretty elite group of bag aficionados. But did you know, there’s an even more prestigious level of customized customer service? It’s the exclusive Hermes Horseshoe Club. No, it’s not like you get frequent buyer points to be used for a new purchase (but wouldn’t that be great). It is the ability to design and special order your Birkin, Kelly or Constance. And it’s not available to everyone and anyone.
In this four part series we demystify the Special Order experience. In this installment, we investigate and report on the ins-and-outs of the process. In part two, some special fashionistas share their Special Order tales. They each report how being offered to create a SO made them feel.
What is a Hermes Special Order?
A Hermes Special Order (SO) is the opportunity to customize a handbag from a predetermined selection of offerings twice a year. Hermes decides the selection of styles, leathers and colors that can be custom ordered. Popular styles include the Birkin, Kelly, and recently the Constance but other handbag styles are available. Leather choices range from togo, chèvre, clemence, swift, exotics and more. For each leather and each season Hermes designates which colors will be offered in which leathers. Hermes lists which specific leathers will be used for each design feature such as linings, handles, sangles etc; Hermes also offers hardware options that do not come on standard handbags such as brushed gold, brushed palladium or rose gold. Building your handbag allows you to customize details such as pocket location and strap length, and even lets you add personal touches such interior initials.
How do I receive the opportunity to place a Special Order?
Before you rush into your local Hermes store to place a SO, you should know it is not available to just anyone. Hermes Special Orders are offered to individuals that have demonstrated loyalty to the brand, their store and a sales associate through a strong purchase history.
Placing a SO is at the discretion of the director of the store. The sales associate must receive approval from the director before offering a SO to any of his/her clients. Corporate Hermes limits the number of Special Orders granted to each individual store and the number may vary from store to store. It is therefore possible that only a few sales associates have the opportunity to share the offer with clients. If you are lucky enough to finally place one, the final order needs to be approved by the store director before submitting to Paris. Paris then reviews the order and occasionally choices can be rejected.
When can Special Orders be placed?
Special Orders can only be placed twice a year at certain prescribed time. Hermes dictates a specific window of time during which each store must complete their special orders, which is usually after “podium”. Podium is the sales director’s biannual trip to Hermes in Paris to make buys for his/her store for the following season. Directors can place podium orders which are special requests for their store clients. This must not be confused with SO’s.
How long does it take to receive a Special Order?
There is no magic answer here. Based on anecdotal information, a SO can take as few as 4 months and as long as 3 years+. Recently, most special orders seem to arrive within a 6-7 month timeframe – but there is no guarantee. Hermes has simplified the process by offering fewer options, which may have expedited the process overall. In some countries the SO counts towards the quota of one bag per semester and in some countries it does not. The quota restricts anyone from purchasing more than one Birkin, Kelly, Kelly Pouchette or Kelly Cut in one semester. There are two semesters per year.
How much does a Special Order bag cost?
There is no additional cost. The total cost will vary based on the cost of the leather you select. In other words, there is no premium for a Special Order, but you will pay the price of the individual customizations.
How can one spot a Hermes Special Order handbag?
Special Order bags will always have the special horseshoe stamped to the left of the traditional, standard Hermes stamp.
How can one get a horseshoe bag without a placing Special Order?
In rare cases, the client that places the SO may reject it once it arrives. Sometimes Hermes changes the original order placed. The SO could arrive at an inconvenient time for the customer to purchase or the client may simply not like the way it turned out.
It is then the discretion of the director to offer the SO to another client to purchase.
Part Two: Special Order Testimonials
We reached out to some of our leading Hermes fashionistas and asked them to share how the ‘special offer’ from Hermes made them feel… and of course a picture of their favorites.
A warm thank you to each and every one of you for taking the time to share your passion with all of us…
Special Orders are as much about the final product as they are about knowing that a brand you love is making it possible for you to collaborate on a design. As a collector, the intimate relationship makes the finished product even more meaningful; It’s part Hermes, part you! I don’t take advantage of the service too often though, as I truly love the standard pieces Hermes designs for each season.
When my SA offered me an opportunity to do an SO, I was taken quite by surprise even though this one is not my first. I didn’t know what to think and didn’t have the foggiest idea what would make this a perfect bag, one that was made “specially” for me. So, I simply went with my gut and stuck to my favorite bag model (the Birkin) in an uncommon size at that time (Size 25), my favorite leather (Chèvre) and in my favorite bright shades. I wanted to do a bag that I would always enjoy carrying and would go with most of my wardrobe. I think I got real lucky with this one because it’s also my little girl’s favorite. I hope when it’s her turn to carry it, she’ll find it as “Special” to her as it is to me now.
The process of creating a SO is special and different every time because you never know what colors/leathers will be available that round. Special orders are what dreams are made of, and they can take months, sometimes years to come to fruition. Then, when the moment finally comes and you get to meet and bring that baby home, it feels like bringing a new baby home to the “family”. You never really know how much you love them until you see them for the first time. And even though I did not think I would have more room in my heart for more beloved bags, I am in love once more!
“Special Order / Made to Order / Custom Design” are terms that have been around me my whole life. My parents are professional interior, fashion designers, and craft makers. Since I was little, I’ve learned from them that if I want to own a long-lasting piece, I must source for good quality materials, good design, and good craftsmanship. And of course, iIt’s always better when there’s a story behind the creation!
When my SA offered me the Hermes Special Order opportunity, I was super elated! In less than 4 months, I was so lucky enough to get my hands on my dream customized bi-color Birkin 25cm. But my customizing didn’t stop there!
Like many Hermes lovers, I love to accessorize Hermes bags with a twilly or two. In addition, I love to apply my fiber art technique to create FELTastic Wool Charms to match the twillies’ patterns/colors. It’s amazing how just a bit of accessories will change the entire look of the purse and make it EXTRA SPECIAL and one-of-a-kind.
For me Special Order time at Hermes is the chance to express my personality to the extent that leather choices allow. In our culture of overexposure, it is extremely difficult to get unique accessories. Being able to customize a Birkin or Kelly to your specifications is truly a gift in itself. I look forward to each SO period with anticipation and excitement!
As a Hermes lover, collector, and an established Hermes client of over 15 years, being asked or invited to have a special order bag is a great honor. It is not something that is easily acquired or easily asked. It is something that is earned in time, trust, and faithfulness. I’ve been very fortunate and grateful to have been invited to add a few special order bags to my collection.
For me, it is a personalized signature bag. I can express my very own unique creation that is inspired by my favorite things, colors, places, designs, and themes. It is a way for me to create my vision that resonates who I am.
Most of my special Orders are inspired by a certain place, season, time, or mood. For example, my Tricolor B40 in Menthe/Gris Tourtourelle/Bois De Rose that I received in 2013 is inspired by Palm Springs circa 1960s color palette. My Tricolor B40 in Rouge Casaque/Moutarde/Ebene is inspired by Fall Seasons. The Kelly B40 in Bleu Lin/Graphite/Etain is inspired by the Desert Monsoon storm clouds leaving a trail of that wonderful post rainfall scent that lingers in the atmosphere. I chose my colors carefully – that’s why most of my special orders are not predictable, but instead quite unexpected.
Finally, for me, a Hermes special order (SO) is not all about the current and hottest trends in Hermes colors – it is about individuality and confidence. It is a signature of my personality, kind of like an alter ego. A bag that is unique and has a personality all of its OWN. Plus, I can rock it like no one else would!
Tricolor B40 Menthe/Bois De Rose/Gris Tourtourelle PHW 2013
BiColor B40 Feu/Colvert GHW 2015
Tricolor B40 Rouge Casaque/Moutarde/Ebene Brushed GHW 2013
Tricolor K40 Bleu Lin/Etain/Graphite GHW 2014
BiColor B40 Vert Veronese/Sanguine GHW 2011
I never thought I would be offered a Special Order from Hermès because I was not a VIP. I turned down 90% of the Birkins I was offered, and I was a relatively new customer. When I received the magical call, I could hardly contain my excitement and I made immediate plans to go in and choose my bag. My local store is a small store, and when I arrived to place my order everyone was so excited for me. It reminded me of bid day in college when I was accepted into my sorority. But unlike a sorority, this membership is secret and is not something I could share with most people.
I would like to thank PurseBop for creating a community for sharing and celebrating these secret thrills in life. I ultimately ordered a rose sakura/blue electric Kelly 25 just hours before the Paris terrorist attacks in 2015. When I finally receive my bag, it will have so much more history behind it and will remind me of Paris’s strength and perseverance.
Having a special order Hermes bag truly makes me feel… well… special! It’s as close to having your “dream bag” as you can get – in the exact leather, colors, size, hardware and style that your heart desires… of course within the confines of what’s available at any given season!
For a brief moment in my life, I can pretend to be a fairy (or a designer!), wave my magic wand, and create something I’ve only daydreamed about. I feel truly lucky and blessed to have been given these opportunities to create something that personifies “me”!
Pictured: Turquoise Togo/Rose Jaipur interior and contrast stitch/brushed GHW/Birkin 30
The SO experience that most resonants with me was in London. I was given the opportunity to complete an SO when I told my SA that I bought a stinky skunk from Paris! The experience was very different from what I experienced in choosing my SOs in Paris. This was much more relaxed, calm, and I never felt rushed. I saw this as a great opportunity to further develop my relationship with my SA. We chatted about the different bag combinations, colour options, and hardware options. She revealed that she was also very indecisive when so many options are presented. I had spent a good two hours there that day, leaving with “please let me sleep on it and I will let you know my hardware choice!”
People rarely talk about the behind the scenes of making a SO. For me, I often wonder what people are thinking about when they make the bag or why they choose a certain color combination. Unlike any ordinary Hermes bag, this one was made just for me! Made exactly to my specifications and height (I’m referring to the extension on Kelly strap). It is truly a bag that represents me. The horseshoe stamp is just a cherry on top of an ice cream sundae on a hot summer’s day.
To me, the opportunity to create an SO is like a sign of affirmation. The freedom of customizing your bag is an adrenaline rush like no other. The long wait for your SO, although grueling, is a privilege that is only bestowed upon a select number of clients. The horseshoe is the reward of your time and investment into the company – it is tangible proof of your special relationship with your SA, your home store, and Hermes.
In the current fashion environment where we are all trying to individualise our bags with charms, twillies or broaches to be unique, being offered the chance to make a Special Order Birkin was like a breath of fresh air. I had so much fun with the design process, trying to find colours that complimented each other and picking leathers that suit my lifestyle.
The end result exceeded my expectations and was both striking and unique. Imagine my surprise when I was offered the opportunity to make another bag just a year later. I found the second time much more involved as I wanted to differentiate it from the first bag I made and also wanted to make it more wearable.
It is always such a gamble trying to work out if the colour combination will shine as much as it does in your imagination, but I was so delighted with my first effort that I can only hope this second time tops it.
In an industry with so much duplication, mass production, and wide spread availability at our fingertips, an SO provides a nice opportunity to own something that not everyone else has. Sure, the combinations can be replicated by other Hermes clients, but the production and visibility of these items are far less common.
Having something just a little more limited and personalized is always a nice thing. We see the design and manufacturing industry reintroducing bespoke/semi-bespoke/customization options more often to their clients. Whether it be clothing, perfumery, home goods, cars or bags, it is nice to have a say in your options (and, ultimately, what YOU as customer, are buying).
Rose Confetti and Rose Tyrien Epsom birkin 30, GHW
Parme and Violet Chevre Birkin 30 SHW
As a lover of all things H for almost 10 years, I always dreamed of being able to place a special order, and of course I wanted the coveted leather, chevre. I can’t say enough about the specialness of Hermes, the brand, the products, and the craftsmanship. Being able to order a bag specially made for me is an experience I will never forget. As this will probably be my one and only special order, I am so happy I was able to have the opportunity and will treasure this beauty forever! If you ever get the chance to place an order, grab it!
“The offer”. For most handbag lovers, this is a foreign concept. Utter these two words to a Hermes lover and sparks will ignite from within! Once your dream of being “offered” a Birkin or Kelly comes to fruition, it’s hard to imagine that feeling could be taken to another level… but it can… I call it SHEER ORANGE BLISS. That is how I would describe the “Special Order” experience.
For my first SO, I was fortunate that my favorite Hermes color was available, Rose Shocking. About 10 months after placing the order, the Birkin arrived and was presented to me. I cried tears of joy. Literally. Everyone in the boutique ogled my new pink baby! It was a feeling of total euphoria to finally hold my dream pink Birkin in my hands and know that she is perfect and ALL MINE!!!
An offer for a special order can be difficult to obtain. I’m so glad I got the opportunity to custom create my own bag. A lot of the time the colors you’ve fallen in love with are out of collection, and by doing a SO you can sometimes receive colors that are otherwise not available. My first Special Order bag was a Birkin 30 in Celeste with Mykonos in the interior. Now I have six other Special Order bags, and I couldn’t be happier. The collection only continues to grow!
Kelly 32 in Clemence leather, Blue Electricque exterior, Etoupe interior, PHW. Kelly 35 in Clemence leather, Vert Canope exterior, Vert anis interior, BGHW. Kelly 25 in Chèvre leather, Rose Lipstick exterior, Ultraviolet interior, PHW. Birkin 30 Celeste exterior, Blue Mykonos interior, PHW. Birkin 30 tricolor in chevre leather, Blue Aztecque, Anemome, and Etoupe. PHW. Birkin 25 in Swift leather, Blue Hydra and Blue San Cyr, PHW.
The Hermes Horseshoe Stamp is a uber coveted marking on any Hermes bag signifying that the bag is a special order. Only the upper echelon of Hermes clients are offered the opportunity to place a special order whether the bag be a Birkin, a Kelly, or a Bolide. In past seasons, bags like the Constance and Jige have been offered for special order as well – it all depends.
Once you place a special order, the waiting game begins…will it take 6 months? Will it take a year?? Will it ever show up?! Well, I felt the latter was going to happen, and I doubted that my order would ever come in. However, one day, my angel of a sales associate texted me and told me that my order finally came in! Presenting my Hermes Kelly Depeches in Toffee Epsom with Brushed Permabrass Hardware.
I am currently waiting on three bags…fingers crossed they will arrive in a timely manner.
When I was offered my first SO, I thought I would faint. It sounded impossible to me – I was not Hermès’ biggest client, but I was told I deserved it as a present for being a deep lover of the maison (and for knowing all the colors and the leathers even better than a SA!).
So one day I went, sat down, and quickly read the list of possible combinations. Only two colors were allowed at that time. I told my SA: “I need a traffic stopping Birkin, let’s go pink and green!”. Six months later, my Rose lipstick and Menthe SO came home with me. I will never forget the feeling of placing my first special order. The memory is still so vivid and exciting.
I have been a big fan of Hermes for the longest time. I started to collect timeless pieces such as bags, shawls, scarves, jewelry, and RTW over the years. Of course, along the way I tweaked my collection as my taste and preferences have changed over the decade. Like Noah’s Ark, I started to collect pairs of various styles in bags such as two Birkin 35s, two Birkin 25s, two Kelly 32s, and so on.
When I was in Paris last Fall, I was delighted – actually ecstatic – to be offered a coveted Special Order bag. I was so honored and so happy that I jumped up and hugged my SA. It was magical and a dream come true for my H fairytale.. I knew exactly what I wanted, B30 in Trench. My husband shared my joy by helping me pick out the interior lining of my new SO. I can hardly wait for my return visit to Paris this year to pick up my first SO!
What does a “special order” mean to me? My immediate flippant, snobby answer is: Getting actually exactly what I want for 10k! LOL!
But I digress: My first special order was indeed special in many ways! It was my first Birkin bag – Chevre Leather in Black on the exterior with Blue Electrique interior, PHW, size 30.
It all started when I was asking about Barenia, and after chatting more about leathers, I felt like Hermes offered me a special order almost as an acknowledgement for my appreciation of what they do.
I am so excited every time I place an order – it’s amazing to be able to be creative and shop at the same time.
Italy is a small world… Milan especially. Everybody knows everybody, and I have pretty much explored it all. I have been a client at my home store since the 90s. I placed my first SO recently, but I am still waiting to receive it.
It wasn’t an easy process because some colors were available only in some leathers, and many colors not available at all. I picked a very classic and clean look for my special order. I enjoy all my Hermes handbags that I have collected over the years, but of course this one will hold a special place in my heart.
Every season, I look forward to sitting down with my SA and playing creative director with the season’s latest colors, swatches, and skin offerings. Being part of the process from the very beginning gives each bag and SLG that I design much more meaning than one straight out of the stockroom. One of my favorite SO’s is actually not a bag; Last year, I ordered a Collier De Chien dog collar in Barenia from FSH. After discovering the Hermes family’s personal dog collars (the original CDC) in a display case at the Hermes museum, I knew that I absolutely had to get one (or two) for my pup. When I asked Hermes to create one for me, not only did they love that I wanted a CDC for its original purpose, but they also practically died when I requested one in Barenia. Some of my other favorite SO’s include an Ardoise/Etain epsom Kelly Depeche and a Noir Birkin 55cm (not HAC) in Veau Taurillion Clemence Très Souple de Paris.
We’d love for you to join in on the conversation. Share your own Hermes Special Order stories and pictures on the BopTalk threads!
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Updated: October 14th, 2017