Happy 2022! I thought I would start the new year off with a review of commonly-used Hermès terms which I find myself using on a fairly regular basis.
Bag Stamps – Hermès Bags have a variety of blind stamps and foil stamps to denote the year of manufacture, the craftsperson who made the item, and as hallmarks. For more information on Hermès bag stamps, follow the link.
B/K/C – A Birkin, a Kelly or a Constance Bag. Ofter people will refer to these bags by the first letter, followed by the size of the bag; for example, a B30 is a 30cm Birkin, a C24 is a 24cm Constance.
BBB or BBK – A Black Box Birkin or a Black Box Kelly. Box refers to the leather Boxcalf, a classic, heritage leather which Hermès has been utilizing for bags for many decades.
Casaque – Casaque is a new color block design for Hermès bags where the exterior has more than one color leather. Usually, Casaque bags have a third color for the interior. See the Kelly example below.
CITES – The CITES document comes with an exotic leather item which details the skin and item. CITES documents are a legal necessity when transporting an exotic item into or out of the country.
CW – Colorway. Each scarf is offered in a variety of colorways, and most people refer to them by the colorway number (cw07, cw02, etc). You can find the colorway number for each item on the Hermès website or on the plastic store tag:
Doblis – Hermès’ version of suede. There is also a newer, rougher version of suede called Grizzly, but Doblis is a more typical suede and is more frequently produced.
Exotic – Alligator, Crocodile, Lizard and Ostrich are the four skins which fall under the title of Exotic Leather.
Fbg/Faubourg – Faubourg is a term used in some of Hermès products and designs. The word comes from the location of the original, flagship boutique in Paris, which is located at 24, Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré.
It may also be used to refer to the Birkin Faubourg, a 20cm Birkin fashioned to resemble the exterior of the boutique:
Flag – Another special issue of the Birkin bag which was offered a few years ago.
Fray Fray/ Birkin Fray – A newer bag style offered in 2021, this a leather Birkin with a canvas panel which is frayed on the edges.
GHW/RGHW/PHW – These are all hardware abbreviations. The hardware commonly in production is Gold Hardware (GHW), Rose Gold Hardware (RGHW), and Palladium Hardware (PHW). There is also Permabrass. Via Special Order, you can also get Brushed Gold Hardware (BGHW) and Brushed Palladium Hardware (BPHW). Previously, there were also Ruthenium and Guilloche.
GM/CSGM – CSGM stands for “Cashmere Silk Grand Modèle”. Years ago Hermès used to make their cashmere shawls in both the PM “Petit Modèle” (90cm square) and GM “Grand Modèle” (140cm square) sizes. The PM size has generally been phased out of production, with some plainer versions offered seasonally. The cashmere shawls are technically a blend of cashmere and silk (currently 70-30) but are usually called either CSGM or Cashmere. See also PM below.
Grail – Any item that is very much in demand and hard to find.
H.com – Shorthand for the Hermès website, Hermes.com
Heritage Leather – The heritage leathers for Hermès are Barenia; Barenia Faubourg; Boxcalf; Vache Naturel; Veau Butler; and Veau Volupto.
Himalaya (also: Himalayan)- One of the most in-demand bags is the Himalaya version of Birkins and Kellys. The Himalaya itself is an exotic leather (Crocodile) which is dyed to resemble the Himalaya mountain range: typically, white for most of the body, ombréd out to shades of brown at the edges. There are, however, several color versions of the Himalaya, including Gris Cendre and a Light Gray colorway. A Himalaya should not be confused with the 80’s monstrosity Sac Himalaya, which still, after all these years, gives me nightmares.
Horizon – Hermès’ made-to-order service. Horizon items are generally beyond Hermès’ usual production items and are one of a kind. For more information, click here.
HSS (Horseshoe Stamp) – The Stamp denoting that a bag was produced via Special Order is in the shape of a Horseshoe.
Kelly Doll/Qu’elle Idole – A version of the Kelly which looks like a doll, with arms and legs. While this is a rare item, it is still currently produced. There is also currently a bag charm version of this bag.
Lettre – A special version of the Kelly bag which was offered for a few seasons. The leather marquetry on the bag was placed to look like a letter. The original letters offered were H, E, R, M and S, adding other letters in later seasons.
Mini – Mini usually refers to the smallest size of a bag: Mini Kelly, Mini Lindy, Mini Constance (the Constance currently only comes in two sizes, 18cm, and 24cm, so I find this term a bit superfluous in reference to this bag. There was a “Micro” size, 14cm, briefly offered years ago). Interestingly, it is not applied to the smaller size of the Birkin: a Mini Kelly is 20cm, and the smallest generally available size of a Birkin is 25cm. The 20cm Birkin has so far been limited to the Birkin Faubourg. There were tiny Birkins and Kellys produced over ten years ago which was 15cm, and that was called a Baby or Micro Birkin/Kelly, not Mini. I assume that if Hermès decides to regularly produce a 20cm Birkin which is not in the Faubourg design, it will be called a Mini Birkin. Yes, I want one already!
MKII – The current version of the Mini Kelly, which is 20cm. It’s called version II because Hermès produced a mini version of the Kelly previously, which had slightly different proportions, including a larger handle.
Picnic – A version of a Birkin or Kelly with leather top and wicker body, like a picnic basket.
Offer – A bag that is offered to an individual customer. This is usually used to refer to highly in-demand bags, including Birkins, the various iterations of Kellys, and Constances.
Podium – Twice a year, Hermès invites all of the Store Managers to come and view all of the items Hermès plans to produce for the coming season. This includes items from all departments, including RTW, Silk, Crystal, Bags, Shoes, Jewelry, Housewares, etc. At this time, the Store Managers view the items being offered and then place their orders for the coming season, based on their knowledge of their customers and what they believe will sell. This is why each store receives its own unique inventory; items that are ordered by many boutiques are generally easy to find; sometimes (this happens frequently with silks) very few items of a particular design or color are ordered and these become very difficult to find (see my plight obtaining the scarf design Eleftheria last year; I was told it didn’t look that great over the teleconferenced Podium and so few US stores ordered it. Thank goodness I have friends all over the world!)
Podium Order – A specific item ordered for an individual client at Podium.
PM/TPM/GM – Different sizes of items. The letters stand for Petit Modèle (Small), Très Petit Modèle (Very Small) and Grand Modèle (Large). As discussed above, PM and GM are used in reference to scarf/shawl sizes; these terms are also often utilized to refer to specific sizes of the Evelyne bag.
Prespend – Some boutiques intimate that a customer spend a certain amount on items from various departments before they will be offered a Birkin or a Kelly. For more information, see this thread.
Push Offer – A limited item produced by Hermès which is sent at will by Hermès corporate to particular boutiques, but cannot be ordered by the boutiques. These are often unique items (usually special versions of bags) that are shown at podium but are produced in an undetermined number. It seems that the boutique has some notification in advance that specific items will be offered/sent, but they are only given the option to accept or decline. Examples include the various special bags (Birkin Faubourg, Himalaya, Shadow Birkin, Picnic Bags, Flag) discussed throughout this article, and certain leathers (like Boxcalf, Barenia, and Lizard).
Quota Bag – Most boutiques limit the number of certain bags that a customer may purchase in any given year; the bags (usually Birkins and Kellys) subject to this limit are called Quota Bags.
Rack Order /RAC (SO) – A term not generally in use currently. This used to refer to Special Order items. Now, it may be used to refer to items which are Specially Ordered but which are not bags: certain other items, such as Belt Straps and Oran Sandals, may sometimes be specially ordered.
SA/SM – Sales Associate/Store Manager.
Sellier/Retourne – This generally refers to the two structures of the Kelly bag. Sellier, which has the stitching on the edges of the exterior, has a firm, structured shape; Retourne, which has this stitching on the interior of the bag, has a more supple, less structured shape. Certain leathers are used for the different structures: generally, a Sellier bag will be made with Chevre, Epsom, or Exotic leather (Togo used to be available for Sellier via Special Order); Retourne will usually be made with Togo, Clemence, or Swift. Note that Sellier is now also used to refer to Birkin structures, but Retourne is not; the Sellier option has only recently become available, so it is either a Birkin or a Birkin Sellier.
Shadow – A version of the Birkin which is produced intermittently. The bag has no hardware or straps, and the shape of these parts is styled within the front leather panel.
SLG – Small Leather Goods. Used to refer to leather items that are not worn and are not bags: wallets, card holders, coin holders, etc.
Special Order (SO) – A Special Order is generally a bag ordered via the Special Order process. The variety of options, including bag type, leather, colors, stitching and hardware, are provided yearly by Hermès. The bag is then made specifically for that customer. It can take anywhere from a few months to a few years for the bag to arrive after ordering. For more information on Special Orders, you can read this article.
Sunrise/Sunset – A version of the Bolide and the Birkin produced recently, with different-colored leather panels fashioned to resemble a Sunrise or Sunset, depending upon the colors.
Tag – There are two kinds of tags on Hermès’ silk and cashmere pieces: the care tag which states the textiles utilized and care for the item, and the plastic “store tag” which indicates the name of the design and its colorway. These store tags were added to the scarves about 15 years ago or so, and some stores remove them at the time of purchase. See the photo for “Colorway” above.
To Go – A version of the Kelly Wallet and Constance Wallet where a removable strap option has been added to give the wallet a shoulder-carry option.
Touch – A version of the Birkin and the Kelly where the body of the bag is a regular leather and the front flap, straps, and handles are exotic (Birkin) or the straps and handle are exotic (Kelly). This is currently in production in a limited range of colors (generally noir, bleu marine/sapphir, raisin, caramel/tabac, framboise, gold, bambou, noisette/etrusque or bleu encre), mostly with an Alligator/Togo composition, sometimes with Alligator/Novillo, and recently also in Lizard/Togo.
Verso/Tricolor/Multico – A Verso bag has a different color on the interior and the exterior. These bags are generally made available as a Push Offer by corporate to the boutiques in certain very limited colors particular to that season and cannot be ordered by the boutiques. Generally, Push Offer Verso bags have tonal stitching and PHW. A bag that has Verso colors may also be ordered via Special Order, which is offered individually by a Sales Associate to the customer and has a wider range of color and leather options (and the stitching colors and hardware may be selected as well). Casaque bags (also available by Push Offer) will have two colors on the front and back panels of the exterior and a third color on the interior. Multico bags have one color on the front and back panels and a second color on the handle(s), straps, side panels, and interior.
5P – Hermès colors are commonly referred to by their official names: Bleu Nuit, Rose Mexico, Etoupe, etc. Internally, each color also has a code. For whatever reason, 5P is a shade of Pink commonly referred to by its internal corporate code.
As far as I can tell, it’s the only color generally referred to by the code, perhaps because the official color name is “Pink”, which isn’t very descriptive anyway (Hermès has not produced a shade called just “Rouge/Red” or “Vert/Green” but Black is of course “Noir” and White is “Blanc”). I personally prefer the use of the official names for clarity (you will sometimes see newer customers referring to colors by their code, and I have no idea what they’re talking about), and also because many of the official names are descriptive “Crevette/Shrimp” “Jaune Ambre/Amber Yellow”.