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Hermès: The bags

14 September 2011

It’s not surprising that, given the focus on Hermès over the past week, I’ve had questions about what man’s bags they have and where they can be obtained.

Hermès bags are often made in small quantities because of the difficulty in sourcing precise leathers. There is, however, a good range out there – and while stock varies from store to store, it is always worth asking staff what else is coming in soon and what other nearby stores have available.

The range varies from canvas tote bags at the cheaper end to the Haut à Courroies saddle bag (top). This latter is a favourite of mine. The first bag Hermès ever made, it was designed to carry a full riding saddle and would usually have been carried open.

It is now a great weekender bag, and has been redesigned slightly to reduce its weight. The leather lining didn’t matter so much when you had a full leather saddle inside, but it is more important for weekend trips. So a thinner and foamed Togo leather is used, a canvas herringbone lining and aluminium hardware. This new version is called the Helium, after the ultralight chemical element (£7440).


The other bag I would point readers towards is the new Sac a Depeches (pictured above, £4400). This is a very simple workbag in calfskin, but with all the Hermès details that lend sophistication – the wonderfully finished edges, as we explored in the first post in this series, and the balance of the whole. In fact, a concertina structure like this is particularly hard to make by hand, because if the balance between the folds is just a little bit off then the bag will not stand up straight. It’s a nice way to test a bag.

Both are deliberately only available in quite masculine colours: the Haut à Courroies in tan and charcoal; the Sac a Depeches in ebony and charcoal. The matte calfskin of the latter has the added advantage that it will scratch and age quickly, giving it a very aged, gentlemanly quality.

Also worth a mention is the Polochon Voyage (£5400, below), an old archive piece from the 1930s that was reissued in 2010. In evergrain calfskin, it is a new addition for Autumn/Winter. If you thought the other models were extravagant, this is essentially a sports bag, but made with the same miniscule attention to detail. It is also made inside out, like some versions of the Kelly handbag, before being reversed. So some of that lovely stitching is on the inside.