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Everything To Know About Hermès’ Kelly, The Original “Old Money” Bag

Meet the Birkin’s older sister.

Kendall Jenner carries a burgundy leather Hermès Kelly bag.
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While revived interest in the “old money” aesthetic is relatively recent (thanks, in large part, to its biggest ambassador Sofia Richie), Hermès’ Kelly bag has reigned supreme as the OG “quiet luxury” accessory for nearly 100 years.

Since its first release in the 1930s, the Kelly has been a trapezoidal status symbol for well-to-do shoppers across the globe. It has been the signifier of wealth and style for generations, carried only by those in the highest possible tax bracket.

The Kelly’s Long, Luxurious History

It was designed by Robert Dumas, son-in-law of the company’s original CEO Émile Hermès, before he took over the top job in 1951. However, it wasn’t until the latter half of the ’50s that the luxury handbag gained international prestige — and its famous name.

According to lore, in 1956, the Princess of Monaco Grace Kelly tried to hide her pregnancy from the paparazzi by chicly using her Hermès bag to cover her growing belly. The resulting photos brought the top-handle accessory worldwide recognition and it was renamed in her honor a year later.

Since then, the top-handle style has become the epitome of elegance and is now a holy grail handbag for fashion girlies and collectors alike. (For those wondering, the Birkin, Hermès’ most recognized purse, only came onto the scene in the ’80s, giving the Kelly solo It bag status for decades.)

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Naturally, Celebrities Love The Kelly

Naturally, nearly every A-list celebrity has been spotted carrying the Kelly. The foremost arbiters of the “quiet luxury” look — Victoria Beckham and The Row’s Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen — have been toting around the bag since the early aughts.

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Sofia Richie, the current face of “stealth wealth,” has an impressive collection of designer bags as well, including more than a few highly-coveted Kellys.

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Jennifer Lopez, who’s a known fan of expensive Hermès bags, has also carried a version.

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Of course, the KarJenner clan houses more than a few within their various bag collections. Between the famous siblings (and momager Kris), the family boasts a sizable repertoire of Kellys to choose from.

Just last summer, Kendall Jenner was photographed carrying a vintage Kelly in mahogany, while Kim Kardashian has been toting the style since her early reality star days. Most recently, it was Kylie Jenner who carried a version of the bag — a tiny silver one worth $60k — to attend Beyoncè’s concert.

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Wait, The Kelly Costs How Much?!

The Kelly comes in two main styles: the Sellier and the Retourne. The Sellier is more box-shaped and the sides have visible stitching. Conversely, the Retourne seems rounder because the side panels’ stitching is on the inside.

One of the Kelly’s defining features is its lone top handle. In fact, that’s the easiest distinction between the Kelly and the Birkin bag, which features two handles. The front flap, too, is different: The Kelly’s is straight, while the Birkin’s curves to accommodate the front handle.

The Kelly comes in an array of sizes often indicated in the name: the 15, the 20, the 25, the 28, the 32, the 35, the 40, and the 50, all of which refer to the length of the bag’s base in centimeters. It’s also shoppable in more rectangular styles — AKA the Pochette and the Cut — for those looking for something less equilateral.

One of the most expensive bags in the market today, the Kelly can go from $6,085 on a resale site to as high as a quarter of a million dollars for exotic leathers. Surprisingly, the Mini Kelly has become a rarefied iteration of the Kelly and is also priced pretty steep.

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The process of acquiring a new Kelly isn’t as straightforward as your run-of-the-mill designer purse. Much like purchasing a Birkin, upper-class shoppers would need to visit an Hermès boutique to see what’s available and potentially sign up for a waitlist.

There are, however, plenty of authenticated options available for purchase on trusted resale markets, including: Fashionphile, Rebag, Vestiaire Collective, and Sotheby’s auction house. But be warned: even second-hand, they’ll still cost you an eye-watering sum.