Among handbag collectors, a custom-made Hermès bag is considered the ultimate status symbol. Custom-made pieces, known as HSS bags, feature a special horseshoe stamp to the left of the Hermès stamp inside the bag. The emblem might be petite, but it significantly increases the value.
A custom shiny jaune ambre & beige sable porosus crocodile sellier birkin 25 with brushed gold hardware, Hermès, 2022. 25 w x 19 h x 14 d cm. Estimate: HK$400,000–500,000. Offered in Handbags & accessories on 25 November 2023 at Christie’s in Hong Kong
The special custom-made service is offered to only a select number of top collectors, with bespoke creations typically taking six months to arrive — although some collectors wait for as long as three years.
Each season, a pre-determined selection of Hermès handbags can be customised using certain materials and colours. The Birkin, the Kelly and the Constance are the most popular styles among collectors. After deciding on the personalised combinations, the final design is sent for approval before production can begin.
A custom matte kraft & vanille alligator birkin 25 with brushed gold hardware, Hermès, 2023. 25 w x 19 h x 14 d cm. Estimate: HK$420,000–520,000. Offered in Handbags & accessories on 25 November 2023 at Christie’s in Hong Kong
Special orders are frequently created in the most desirable shades of a particular season, and will often feature contrasting interiors and, in some cases, striking bi-colour and tri-colour variations.
Further customisation can include the addition of contrasting stitching, or bespoke hardware such as brushed gold, brushed palladium and rose gold. Details such as pocket location, strap length and initials represent further customisable options that are available to the lucky few.
A rare, custom matte lime alligator fringes kelly danse with palladium hardware, Hermès, 2023. 22 w x 17 h x 7 d cm. Total length: 40 cm. with fringes. Estimate: HK$320,000–420,000. Offered in Handbags & accessories on 25 November 2023 at Christie’s in HongKong
As customisations become more intricate, pieces becomes ever more exclusive. An Ostrich Birkin 35 is already a special bag, but in a tri-colour variation, such as the example below, it becomes a genuine rarity.
A custom Parchemin, Marron Foncé & Rouge VIF Ostrich Birkin 35 with palladium hardware. Hermès, 2008. Sold for HK$125,000 on 29 May 2019 at Christie’s in Hong Kong
Hermès limited-edition bags are usually released to mark a special event. Produced in extremely small batches, they are highly sought after and, not surprisingly, very difficult to obtain.
A custom matte mimosa alligator & rose azalée swift leather quelle idole with gold hardware, Hermès, 2019. 15 w x 12 h x 6 d cm. Estimate: HK$1,000,000–2,000,000. Offered in Handbags & accessories on 25 November 2023 at Christie’s in Hong Kong
The Quelle Idole bag, also known as the Kelly Doll, was released in 2000. Designed by Jean-Louis Dumas, the Chief Executive of Hermès, the Quelle Idole has become increasingly rare over the past two decades. Recently made available for custom order, it now represents the ultimate combination of exclusivity and rarity.