Over the past few years, there has been a noticeable increase in the demand for Hermès bag charms. The decision as to whether* to use one is, of course, entirely subjective and personal, but clearly, this is a trend with some staying power.
It does seem a little counter-intuitive to want to adorn what is often an incredibly expensive (I mean, all Hermès bags are incredibly expensive), vaguely-serious-looking bag with a bit of something-something, doesn’t it? More so when these little objects are generally so whimsical…little horses (the “Rodeo”), or miniature Oran sandals (costing nearly as much as a full-size pair!), or baseball caps. Surprisingly, however, Hermès has been making bag charms for many years; certainly longer than the 24 years that I’ve been a customer, although a decade or two ago the charms were much less appreciated and under-the-radar than the current offerings.
History of Hermès Bag Charms
Despite my now-growing stable of Rodeos, I was not interested in or considering buying a charm or decoration for my bag for many years. Mind you, I started collecting back in the stone age when Hermès didn’t yet even offer Twillies for sale. Back then, the charms offered were quite different; each was a distinctive design, but all were the same shape: a circle of leather, often made to depict an animal’s face, which would attach to the bag by a silver chain. Prices were under $200 each. Options included all sorts of critters, from dogs to snakes to elephants (one very limited edition version was a Quelle Idole charm), and while very cute and a fine seller, they were not wildly popular.
The Hermès Cadena
At the same time, Hermès also used to offer an annual Cadena, which is a metal charm (usually gold) that can also be utilized instead of the lock that comes with many of their bags. There were fewer Cadena options offered as there would only be one new design per year. These included a Pegase, a boat, and a hand and would often be based on the year’s theme.
Another discontinued bag charm option was a variety of the Breloque/Olga chains in silver or in gold, which were chains with little dangling charms: one version had a clasp on one end and a Hermès Cadena-shaped lock on the other and had three circular charms depicting a dog, and H and a horse; for another version, the dangling charms were a Cloud de Selle, a Medor pyramid and a Chaine d’Ancre; and a for a third version the dangling charms were made of leather and consisted of the following shapes: Cadena Lock, Chaine d’Ancre, Kelly, Clou de Selle and Stirrup (there was also a shorter, two-charm version).
Around the late-aughts, Hermès also began offering a variety of other bag charms, including silk or cotton pom poms, horsehair charms, and the first modern leather charms – each suspended by a short leather cord:
Again, all of these charms sold well (the silk knots were particularly popular). Still, most were not actually flying off the shelves (my particular boutique always had Olga charms available, and even for a while after they were discontinued.
Then came the Hermès Rodeo Charms
The semi-popularity of these items could not have really prepared Hermès for the explosion of interest in bag charms over the past few years. It was, in large part, a matter of timing: the continued expansion of Hermès’ customer base throughout the world (making online and in-person access to products more accessible), the rise of social media (making its products more visible, via both marketing and other clients showing how they use and enjoy their purchases), and the increased importance of sustainability and minimizing waste (the founding and proliferation of the Petit H products).
From this combination of factors, there was both a growing market clamoring for products, especially in the leather department, and especially at the more entry-level price points. At the same time, there was an increased corporate interest to reduce waste and promote a new department. After the well-received but only moderately successful charms (mentioned above a saddle; a baseball cap; a horseshoe) made entirely of leather – which, by the way, was gentler on the bags they were to be hung on than the heavier metal pieces – around 2013 the Rodeo was first produced.
History of the Rodeo
Rodeos were not an immediate hit: in fact, they were fairly hard to find for the first year or two of production, And back then, I had no interest in it: sure, it was cute, but I was used to seeing bag charms in my boutique, and, at the time, it struck me as a bit juvenile. Personally, I was at a place in my life when my older son was just about to become a teenager; I was ready to be done with everything that said “little kid” to me. My mother, however, saw it completely differently. She was just about 70, and her style has always been somewhat preppy or classic, and she LOVED the rodeo charms. So, of course, I had to go with her to look at them…and you know, they did sort of grow on me.
For one thing, they are whimsical and add a bit of variety to what we carry with us every day: even if looking at that Rodeo gives you a smile or sends off a good vibe, that is a positive thing. For another, when we buy our bags, we are stuck with that one color (which of course we love); when you bring other colors into it, yes, you may run the risk of being a bit, well, extra (if that is a concern; clearly, for me, it’s part of the appeal) but you also have the option of tying it all together: Say, with a gold bag that has a twilly with a variety of colors including gold, and a rodeo with a gold tail: well, now you are a perfect match for every other color in the rodeo and all the dominant colors in the twilly, thank you very much!
Hermès Rodeo Sizes
As you may know, the Rodeo comes in 3 sizes: PM (small, about 8 x 7 cm), MM (medium, about 12 x 10 cm) and GM (large, about 16 x 12 cm). The PM seems best proportioned for the smaller bags: 25cm Birkins and Kellys and 28cm Kellys. The MMs are good for the larger bags: 32cm Kellys and 35cm Birkins and Kellys. I think the 30cm Birkin can handle either size. The large I would use for larger bags. Prices have hovered in the $450+ range for the PM and the $600+ range for the GM (last time I checked!).
There have been many iterations of the three-color rodeo as far as colors go, including two versions that had different colors on either side. A few new colorways seem to be released every season, but older colorways still seem to trickle in occasionally.
For more Rodeo fun, check out this fairly comprehensive thread on The Purse Forum.
Extra Charm Options
For the last few seasons, Hermès has upped its charm offensive (I couldn’t help myself!) exponentially, adding some non- (or extra-) Rodeo options which also seem to be popular, including the Rodeo Touch (with exotic saddle), Oran (I prefer this on the very small bags, like the Mini Kelly), the Shopping Bag, and the Roo Roo.
Several pieces have become very much in demand, including:
The Mini-Mini-Kelly Bag Charm
Yeah, these are super-adorable. They are also super-expensive, at over $3,000 for the Kelly Twilly and $4,350 for the Mini Quelle Idole!
The Pegase Charm
A Rodeo with Wings, what could be better? These are only slightly less impossible to find, but the price is also a lot friendlier (under $600). Also, while not every Rodeo color combination is to everyone’s taste, the few colorways of the Pegase Rodeos seem generally to be almost universally appealing.