Real vs Homemade Hermes Kelly

Click to watch the ABC Video clip

There has been an interesting discussion taking part on Purse Forum on a news clip. ABC popped into Hermes on Madison Avenue in NYC and spoke with the Hermes-god-placed-on-Earth himself, Claude Gandrille. I was shocked to see Claude on ABC speaking about Hermes, as the brand is so secretive and keeps mum about their happenings. Furthermore Claude is rather quiet himself, typically found diligently working in his back right corner of the shop. But they got an interview with Claude. Somehow a slew of video cameras came into Hermes as well, when a simple movement of your camera phone on any other day will send the security upon you in less than 10 seconds.

Next ABC decided to enlist Michelle, a do it yourself artisan, to create a Hermes Kelly for $35. She did so by using the Hermes Kelly pattern found on the Hermes website (we created our own Hermes a while back). Michelle spent two days creating a Hermes Kelly that was made to resemble a classic Kelly and a Crocodile Kelly. Afterward she hit the streets to see if people could spot the real bag. They could. Better yet, she went to Hermes to see what the sale associates and Claude thought. Are you kidding me – I nearly fell off my chair at this point trying to hold in my anticipation of their reactions. The sale associates laughed and tried to tell her it was good. Claude was dying on the inside, though on the outside he held it together and told her “This is wonderful”. Claude was lying, I know it.

What gets me is after this piece, the ABC anchor goes on to say you can get that ‘blueprint’ on Hermes and try it yourself. So let’s make more wannabes and give more counterfeiters the idea. Not that the design would have stumped anyone who knew handbags. Obviously the quality was about a millionth of what a true Hermes bag is. And that cracked, dry tree-bark pattern on the ‘crocodile’ Kelly Michelle made was heinous. Either way we enjoyed the video because we got to see Claude; Vlad and I love Claude! And we did not take it too seriously, it was just for fun anyhow.

What do you think?

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Share Your Thoughts With Us

  • AJC

    People @ Hermes showed real class at the sight of this “experiment” ;-)

  • luvhautecouture

    I made my mom a paper Hermes Kelly for mother’s day last year (so it’s been just about a year since you posted the blog!!)

    I think she did a good job for not being a trained Hermes craftsman. I had a hard time making the paper Hermes, so I can’t imagine making one with real leather.

    The girl who works at Elle was probably just being polite. The bag in no way had Hermes quality!!

    The video was fun though! Claude is such a cool guy….

    I hope one day I’ll have a few Kelly’s!!!!

  • The video was just for fun, but it was kind of funny to watch the people at Hermes, who know the leathers and quality so well, see the homemade bag.

  • Tammy

    What’s the different between this lady and people who make fake bag?

    Isn’t this another way to encourage people to use fake? Well, I like the idea of how she homemade her bag but I think she shouldn’t copy designer style. That’s just wrong!

  • luvhautecouture

    Tammy, the difference is, she isn’t calling her bag an authentic Hermes and selling it to the public. I don’t think she’s really going to use the bags, it was just for the show. I do see how this might cause more people to make Hermes style bags (perhaps the same way as the newscaster).

  • KH

    Honestly, I don’t think that there’s a problem with making your own version of the Hermes bag. It is a classic shape just like the
    quilted Chanel bag is a classic style, that many brands copy. As a matter of fact there is a Vogue sewing pattern that lets you make your own version of bags that look like the Hermes Kelly,Birkin and the classic Chanel. So, I feel like as long as you are not trying to sell and pass these bags off as the real thing, it’s ok.

  • me

    It’s really not bad. It’s not made of exotic, who could pay for that with $35? But it is nicely crafted, and isn’t that what the exorbitant amounts of money spent on Hermes are for?

  • Kelly

    I think it was just for entertainment anyway. Makes great TV in my opinion.

  • lauren

    Are you kidding me? I do leather crafting in my spare time and for her to make that kelly bag with only 35 dollars worth of materials??? It’s not bad at all…Just think if she was using a couple hundred dollars worth of high quality leather, well then the difference between the snob version and her version would be much smaller wouldn’t it? Besides, it just goes to show HOW EASY it is to make a kelly bag. Hermes just wants you to think they are the only ones capable of making a quality leather bag that of course needs to cost over $5,000. Either way, this was for entertainment purposes, there is no reason to compare this clip to people passing off fakes on *bay. There IS a difference.

  • heidi

    I fully agree with you, Lauren.

    And Tammy–the difference is is that this is NOT illegal. Making your own bag even if it resembles a designer bag, is totally ETHICAL and LEGAL because she’s not passing it off as real and most importantly, is not selling it.

    What ever happened to the days where thriftiness was encouraged, where mothers who could not afford to buy their daughters that expensive prom dress would whip out their sewing machines and make their own copy of a dress in a magazine? Must everything be bought these days? Must everything have a logo stamped on it somewhere?

    Most people simply can’t afford a Hermes, but if they enjoy the style, then rather than buy a fake, or even an “inspired by”, the BEST thing to do is to make your own!

  • Amanda R

    You know what? I think it’s fantastic. Maybe it will encourage more women to channel their inner creativity! I liked the little segment at the end of the video giving viewers different ideas on how to make their own bags that fit the current trends. I also thought that the woman in the video did a great job at making that Kelly for only $35, and who’s to say, maybe Claude was being genuine. After all, he’s an artist and a craftsman, and maybe he was able to appreciate how much work the woman put into her homemade Kelly. I love designer bags, but a real Hermes isn’t going to happen for at least another 10 years. And who knows, maybe I’ll be over it by then!

  • mette

    An interesting story. I´m just wondering about the Kelly and the Birkin bags. I do like the exotic ones, but I only like them; not having an obsession over them. These bags are not very practical, they are carried `open´because it is difficult to open and close the lock system all the time. They also appear stiff and clumsy. I know that Hermes is an institution and I appreciate their craftsmanship. But why this hullabaloo over these two bags ?

  • theresa

    Ladies great comments but as I am sure you already know the price point on luxury handbags is not determined by the cost of goods to produce them but what a client is willing to pay for the handbag. I formerly worked for a luxury company (not Hermes but of equal stature) in the finance division. My department’s responsibilities included determining the total material and labor costs of each style of handbag. On average the cost of the handbag was about 15% of the retail price (so on a 5K bag you do the math – its a great deal of money but not close to the retail) and the smallest portion of the costs were the materials (ie leather, hardware etc). The rest of the costs are made up of labor, advertising etc etc. Yawn I know.

    Luxury companies price their items prohibitively so that they remain exclusive and coveted and it works. If everyone could have one than no one probably would want one. That’s why Hermes has a waiting list for their are absolutely beautifully made and expensive handbags.

  • me

    theresa, that’s exactly the point, if this artisan can come so close with $35, what the heck are we supposed to be paying for? I understand that we should covet the brand for the brand and I’m guilty too, but not so guilty as to want to buy a Hermes bag.

  • Sher

    I think it’s fine that the lady made the bag. Hermes offered the pattern on their websight. I think it is amazing that the bag looked as well as it did. It is not a Hermes bag, because it was not made at Hermes. Just a Kelly style bag made my a very smart lady. I have 4 Hermes Kelly’s I bought years ago. I love the look, but they are not that easy to get in and out of. If you use the shoulder strap, they are more easily used. The rigid ones are more durable, but not as comfortable to carry as the soft ones. They are ultimate class though.

  • Mindy

    I’m a little disconcerted with Meg’s tone in this article.

    I think it was pretty obvious that the homemade Kelly could in no way compete with a real Hermes bag in terms of craftsmanship. The woman who made the bag knew it, the host knew it, — even the camera guy knew it. So what’s with the snarky comments?

    I like to come to this blog because the reviews and reviewers are down to earth and realistic. Heck, I used to read this blog four years ago when all Meg wrote and obsessed about was the standard Louis Vuitton and Gucci. But just because you got a few Hermes pieces solely due to the popularity of this blog, please don’t preach from the pulpit.

    There is a reason her “croc” bag cost $35 to make and why a Kelly croc costs $35,000. And the readers know why too. Just saying – we could do without that kind of attitude.

  • dimon

    “But just because you got a few Hermes pieces solely due to the popularity of this blog, please don’t preach from the pulpit.” – Whos being snarky now?

    I think it has taken a great deal of work to make this blog popular and I hope profitable.

    I enjoy the down to earth commentary and reviews as well.

    I agree with Mette. I have never understood the adoration for the Kelly or the Birkin. I think they look good on an elderly distinguished sort of lady. Don’t really get Chanel classics either. Sorry!

  • Lisa

    I was getting the same vibes as Mindy. I guess now that Meg’s has a birkin that she probably never takes out of her closet, she can be a little snobby towards one news clip?

    There is no reason to put Hermes on a pedestal because like Mette said, they are not exactly the most functional of bags…

  • Empress

    I like the maroon bag better than the vomit-bark colored bag. That lady sure is crafty! I see nothing wrong with making your own “version” of an expensive handbag… people make their own clothes, why not their own purses too? I like the look of the Kelly, but I do agree with Dimon, that those bags seem better suited for an older distinguished woman (Chanel also).

    Now that I know there is a pattern for the Birkin; I think I just might have a weekend project to do! Ooh fun!

  • lllfashion

    I totally agree with Meg! I think the guys over at ABC showed no taste by having this woman creating the “it” bags out of cheap materials…They look ugly and I personally would never carry any of them. And this Elle girl, I wonder how she got the job in the first place…I thought the magazine was all about the beauty and art of fashion. Its like encouraging people to create and carry ugly fake designer bags. That’s why I get mad when magazines offer cheap plastic bags. It’s against what they represent…And no editor would ever carry them…
    My view is if a woman cannot afford to buy the real thing, aka the designer bag, its better to buy a simple beautiful leather of fabric bag of a “no name” designer and carry it proudly. Or save money and buy one expensive bag instead of 4 “cheap”. It will be worth the money. But to go out with a fake, or a cheap imitation of a designer bag, I think shows no taste. And yes everybody will know the difference…
    If you like to make your own bags or clothes, its better to follow your ideas and designs.That’s authentic.Otherwise its a cheap copy.

    The pattern for the Birkin could be a nice idea for home decoration…But please do not carry the fake bag around…

  • Pradameinhofgang

    when i saw the abc news piece it did make me cringe seeing her walk into Hermes with her handcrafted effort, but fair play to Hermes for taking it in the spirit it was intended and not being condescending or snobbish to her. i think the piece was intended as a fun idea, because of Credit Crunch there are reams of magazines and articles in Uk devoted to dressing on a budget, customising and wearing vintage clothes or stuff from Thrift stores. I agree that the homemade Hermes was never going to be the same as the original, but to me it was a homage rather than a copy or fake – purely for the fun of doing it!

    I have 2 vintage Kellys and a Birkin but don’t consider myself rich because i have them, i”m just a regular mum who cuts down in other areas of my life so i can have nice bags that i intend to keep forever and pas on to my girls when they are older. Maybe the ultimate message of this film is that we could all do with being a bit thriftier in our day to day lives, lighten up a bit and not get too preachy about Hermes being a holy grail of brands and not ever to be copied – after all, Coco Chanel was the first to make costume jewellery fow women who couldn’t afford the real thing – and now no-one raises an eyebrow about Chanel costume jewellery now, do they!

  • Merve

    I really dont appreciate people calling Megs or anyone else who writes this blog for us snarky! We all get bitchy or opinionated about certain posts. Its all in good nature! If you dont like it i suggest visiting other blogs.

  • gustonegro

    There are some haters out tonight!

    I like this piece. I have been eyeing the Steve and Etrivier bags for some time but on my income, it aint gonna happen. I am not sure I want it to, for those prices. What I have considered is finding a course on making leather bags (and found one at the London College of Fashion) and learning also, to make my own. I have even found a supplier for alligator leather.

    I am a designer and the Hermes designs are not that complex, otherwise there would not be so many fakes on the market anyway. What they sell is craftsmanship. Any creative person knows that; doing their ever-so-even saddle stitch and using the “finest” leather…

    That lady in the piece did a fine job for the time she spent, the materials and her skill level. Of course Claude could do better, but he wasn’t born doing better. I would like to see his first efforts. I think he was genuinely excited to see that she had made an effort, not to fool anybody, but to make something she wanted to have.

    Sorry to say, but the (hopefully) few snobs that do lurk out here are sad. If you can afford a Hermes bag, why not be happy about it. Some of us others might like to put out money elsewhere but still can appreciate the style.


  • Karina

    I thought it was a good copy but honestly its not that hard to make the kelly or birkin with good quality materials.
    I design handbags and manufacture them in India where labour is cheaper than most places and i have some very high skilled artisans.
    With about 200$ I could make a perfect “fake” bag if i wanted its that simple.
    And honestly my sister bought a birkin recently for her 35th birthday and i was looking at it very closelt yesterday it has crooked stitching and is far from perfect and given that she paid 10% more than you would anywhere else in the world its kind of appaling.. so i asked her are you paying for quality and she was like its a Birkin…. honestly if my label produced crooked stiching my clients would be apalled!.
    And yes its not a fake bought right here in Delhi at the offcial Hermes store.
    So i rest my case.

  • Jessica

    ummm this has to be illegal.
    I personally wouldnt carry a fake bag…..EVER.
    but it was a pretty good knockoff.
    Im kinda hurt though, me being the proud parent of two kelly bags, it sucks seeing the integrity of the kelly being torn to shreds.

    Im just begging them not to bootleg the birkin!
    because im still on the waiting list to get mine.
    6 more months til it gets here.

  • Sheila

    This was obviously for entertainment purposes only. I think for the price of the materials she used, she did a good job. And to “jessica” there is nothing illegal about what she did because she wasn’t trying to pass it as the real thing and wasn’t selling it as such so get over it!

  • Kanika

    LOL for the video. Everyone including the Hermes girls,Claude, the elle lady and even the ABC woman were secretly mocking the fake ones…… I guess Michelle just didnt get it…….
    I do beleive it is possible to make handbags with good materials for real cheap but as CopyScape says, “Respect the original”. The cost that LVs and Hermes and Chanels ask for is not for the product in your hand but for the idea of the bag that has been so authentic that it has stood the test of time. Right now, I can only afford small LVs…. maybe I ll get to Kellys some day but till then its no counterfiets for me.
    As for thoise who want to go on beleiving that bargain bags win the battle, please your self ladies. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery :P LOL again