Hermès Kelly 25 vs. Birkin 25 Which One Is Better?

Some decisions are easy to make – Go out or stay in? Dessert or no dessert? Splurge or save? But others, not so much! A difficult choice I’ve found myself having to make is that age-old question which every Hermès devotee will find themselves faced with at one point in their life – Kelly or Birkin? Some would argue making a Hermès lover choose between the two is comparable with making a mother choose between her two children.

Now with 11 Hermès bags to my name, some Kellys, some Birkins and some of the house’s other styles like the Constance, I feel confident to weigh in on this famous debate.

In this post, I am going to compare the Kelly 25 and Birkin 25.

This size in the Kelly bag is the second smallest size option (the smallest is the highly covetable Mini Kelly) and the smallest offered in the Birkin.

I have two of each bag in this specific size. Both my Kelly 25s are fairly new additions to my Hermès collection. I got my first for Christmas 2020 in the colour Bleu Brume in Epsom leather with gold hardware in the Sellier model, meaning the bag is more structured and the stitching points outwards. The second Kelly 25 I got just last month in the colour Capucine in Swift leather with gold hardware in the Retourne model, meaning the bag is less structured and the stitching points inwards. I’ve had my two Birkin 25s a little longer. The first I got during summer 2019 in the colour Rose Pourpre in Togo leather with palladium hardware. My other Birkin 25 is in the colour Etoupe in Togo leather with rose gold hardware and I have had it since autumn 2020.

The Kelly and the Birkin have a lot of indisputable similarities. They are both certified Hermès classics which are as popular today as they have even been, if not more. They are both named after celebrities, Grace Kelly and Jane Birkin, respectively. They are both famed for being great financial investments since both always increase in price and are notoriously hard to obtain. This has produced a burgeoning resale market for each bag with styles of both the Kelly and Birkin selling for well over retail price. And they have both enjoyed the covetable status of ‘It’ bag. But equally the two bags have key differences which can predominantly be traced back to each design’s original purpose.

KELLY 25

From the outset the Kelly was designed as an elegant, formal, refined and yet also functional handbag. These characteristics are clear to me when using the Kelly bag today. The Kelly has a single top handle and comes with a detachable strap which can be worn over the shoulder or crossbody so it has several carry options. The longer strap suits the small size of the Kelly 25 perfectly as the bag can sit comfortably across the body. This makes the Kelly incredibly versatile and perfect for travelling with ease (pre-pandemic of course). There’s nothing so chic as holding your Kelly top handle one night at some swanky event, then waking up the next morning and neatly slinging the same bag over your shoulder to head to the airport.

ABOUT THE KELLY 25

  • Available in Sellier (more structured, stitching points outwards) or Retourne (less structured, stitching points inwards)
  • Overall structured finish in both Sellier and Retourne styles
  • Single top handle
  • Comes with shoulder/crossbody strap
  • Structured flap closure
  • Comes with a clochette
  • Fastened with signature Hermès buckle
  • Comes with lock and key
  • 4 feet on the bottom
  • 25 cm width x 19 cm height x 9 cm depth

The Kelly has traditionally been seen as a bag for more sophisticated, mature women. But in recent years this perception of the Kelly has changed. It’s now an increasingly sought-after style amongst younger bag lovers too. The Kelly is now available in an increasing number of vibrant hues, a far cry from the selection of neutrals the bag was pictured in during the 20th century.

Kelly bags of all sizes are not that spacious inside and this is particularly true for the Kelly 25. Due to its structured and boxy finish the bag can’t exactly be stuffed full. However, I’m more than willing to accept this since, personally, I prefer the look of structured bags and the way they are able to maintain their shape, particularly the more structured Sellier model. The Kelly 25 has three interior pockets – one zipped and two open. The flap on the Kelly needs to be closed when carried to avoid straining the top handle and this can prove cumbersome to open and close, meaning the bag is not easily accessible.

BIRKIN 25

The famous Birkin bag wasn’t released until decades after the Kelly and was designed as an everyday bag to fit all the essentials, and then some. The casual and carryall qualities of the bag are apparent to me even when using my small Birkin 25s. I wear both a lot for casual and also more formal events. There is no shoulder strap so the Birkin must always be carried by its dual top handles in a rushed off your feet tote kind of style. Like the Kelly, the Birkin also has a structured flap closure however on the Birkin the flap can be worn tucked inside the bag. I always wear my Birkin 25s open (with the flap tucked inside and the buckle undone) because I think it suits the smaller size and it makes the bag more accessible. Since the Birkin only has top handles I would advise wrapping twillies around them to preserve the leather. For those who don’t know, twillies are small silk accessories from Hermès which can be tied around just about anything. The Birkin 25 has two interior pockets – one zipped and one open, less than the Kelly.

ABOUT THE BIRKIN 25

  • Overall less structured finish
  • Dual top handles
  • Flap closure but can be worn open
  • Comes with a clochette
  • Fastened with signature Hermès buckle
  • Comes with lock and key
  • 4 feet on the bottom
  • 25 cm width x 20 cm height x 13 cm depth

A lot of the Birkin’s downsides are less of a problem for me when you factor in the small size of the 25. The heaviness of always having to carry by the top handles and the bag’s less structured finish are eased by the Birkin 25’s diddy size.

While both styles cost a small fortune, the Birkin is slightly more expensive than the Kelly.

My Decision

I love both the Kelly and Birkin 25 and I am honoured to own each of the four styles in my collection. I think anyone who has the chance should invest in both bags. However, if I had to choose a favourite it would have to be the … Kelly 25. I want to stress that the Kelly 25 comes out only marginally ahead of the Birkin 25. The Kelly’s structured finish is more suited to my personal taste and the functionality which the shoulder strap allows places it just ahead of the Birkin in this epic Hermès battle.

If you had to pick a favourite which would it be?

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3 Comments

  1. Apr 27, 2021 / 10:41 pm

    I don’t own any of the two, but if I could get one, I’d go for the Birkin. I find it a lot more aesthetically pleasing than the Kelly (personal taste :)). Also, I’m obsessed with anything related to the Birkin/Gainsbourg clan!

  2. Lisa Autumn
    May 2, 2021 / 4:18 pm

    I vote for the birkin! I just adore it x

    Lisa | lisaautumn.com

  3. Aduke
    May 5, 2021 / 10:14 am

    I’m for the Kelly. It speaks elegance in various ways; not only applicable to it’s name, but to it’s designated outline. It is boastful of its beauty. I love the Kelly even more in sellier. Hurrah! To the Kelly.

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