7 hot trends in handbags

7 hot trends in handbags

Specialist Rachel Koffsky reveals what smarter collectors are looking to buy right now, from Micro Minis to handbags in bright colours and limited editions — including some highly desirable pieces in our 18 September auction in New York

1. Mini handbags

When it comes to the handbag market, little packs a big punch. At times it seems there is an inverse relationship between size and desirability, with the most miniature iterations of much-loved models realising top prices on the secondary market.

A Candy Collection Céleste epsom leather micro Mini Birkin 15 with palladium hardware, Hermès, 2011. Width 15 cm, height 10 cm, depth 4 cm. Estimate $4,000-6,000. Offered in What Goes Around Comes Around 25th Anniversary Auction on 18 September 2018 at Christie’s in New York

A Candy Collection Céleste epsom leather micro Mini Birkin 15 with palladium hardware, Hermès, 2011. Width 15 cm, height 10 cm, depth 4 cm. Estimate: $4,000-6,000. Offered in What Goes Around Comes Around 25th Anniversary Auction on 18 September 2018 at Christie’s in New York

The Hermès Micro Minis are legendary among handbag collectors, as these diminutive 15 cm models have been discontinued for many years. When one comes to market in extraordinary condition, it captures the attention of top collectors.

2. Lizard-skin bags

As exotics go, lizard is among the most difficult to find because for many years production ranged from extremely limited to non-existent. Due to the delicate nature of the rare skin, lizard is most often utilised for small models and accessories. Ombré is one of the most sought-after lizard effects, because it retains a beautiful, raindrop-stippled exterior.

A rare, shiny ombré salvator lizard Sellier Kelly 25 with palladium hardware, Hermès, 2011. Width 25 cm, height 18 cm, depth 9 cm. Sold for HK$937,500 on 31 May 2017 at Christie’s in Hong Kong

A rare, shiny ombré salvator lizard Sellier Kelly 25 with palladium hardware, Hermès, 2011. Width 25 cm, height 18 cm, depth 9 cm. Sold for HK$937,500 on 31 May 2017 at Christie’s in Hong Kong

Again, this finish is most often seen in small accessories and the rare, occasional Birkin. When the ombré Kelly 25 pictured above came to market in 2017, an intense bidding war resulted in a sale price of more than six times the low estimate.

3. Handbags in bright colours

A limited-edition fuchsia & ultraviolet satin Constance Élan with gold hardware, Hermès, 2010. Width 25 cm, height 15 cm, depth 5 cm. Estimate $6,000-8,000. Offered in What Goes Around Comes Around 25th Anniversary Auction on 18 September 2018 at Christie’s in New York

A limited-edition fuchsia & ultraviolet satin Constance Élan with gold hardware, Hermès, 2010. Width 25 cm, height 15 cm, depth 5 cm. Estimate: $6,000-8,000. Offered in What Goes Around Comes Around 25th Anniversary Auction on 18 September 2018 at Christie’s in New York

Each season Hermès releases a new palette, sometimes only available for a few short months. Some new releases are immediate favourites, instantaneously in demand on the market. Bright colours — vibrant yellows, saturated blues, and popping pinks — are consistently the most sought-after hues.

4. Limited-edition handbags

A limited-edition natural barénia leather & osier Picnic Kelly 35 with palladium hardware, Hermès, 2002. Width 35 cm, height 25 cm, depth 13 cm. Estimate $24,000-30,000. Offered in What Goes Around Comes Around 25th Anniversary Auction on 18 September 2018 at Christie’s in New York

A limited-edition natural barénia leather & osier Picnic Kelly 35 with palladium hardware, Hermès, 2002. Width 35 cm, height 25 cm, depth 13 cm. Estimate: $24,000-30,000. Offered in What Goes Around Comes Around 25th Anniversary Auction on 18 September 2018 at Christie’s in New York

Limited-edition iterations of the Birkin, Kelly and Constance have near-mythical status. These special constructions, designs and reimaginings of the house’s most iconic models are the Hermès equivalent of a bucket list. So Black Birkin? Check. Teddy Kelly? Check. Marquetry Constance? Check! When one of these special pieces appears on the auction block, collectors take notice.

5. Custom handbags

A horseshoe bag denotes a one-of-a-kind creation for a top collector. The opportunity to own a bespoke Hermès piece, with contrasting bi- or tri-colour piping, is a privilege.

A custom shiny rose schéhérazade & bleu saphir niloticus crocodile Birkin 30 with gold hardware, Hermès, 2016. Width 30 cm, height 22 cm, depth 15 cm. Sold for HK$850,000 on 30 May 2018 at Christie’s in Hong Kong

A custom shiny rose schéhérazade & bleu saphir niloticus crocodile Birkin 30 with gold hardware, Hermès, 2016. Width 30 cm, height 22 cm, depth 15 cm. Sold for HK$850,000 on 30 May 2018 at Christie’s in Hong Kong

The rarity of an item is strongly correlated to the uniqueness of the customisation. For many collectors, a horseshoe exotic is considered the holy grail.

6. Vintage handbags

A cognac ostrich & crinoline Hexagone clutch, Hermès, 1978. Width 20 cm, height 15 cm, depth 3 cm. Estimate $1,000-1,500. Offered in What Goes Around Comes Around 25th Anniversary Auction on 18 September 2018 at Christie’s in New York

A cognac ostrich & crinoline Hexagone clutch, Hermès, 1978. Width 20 cm, height 15 cm, depth 3 cm. Estimate: $1,000-1,500. Offered in What Goes Around Comes Around 25th Anniversary Auction on 18 September 2018 at Christie’s in New York

‘Vintage’ connotes an item that hasn’t been available on the primary market for many seasons. Often these bags have spent years tucked away in a private collection. It is truly a coup to secure a vintage piece in top condition.

7. Handbags with famous owners

The Elizabeth Taylor auctions at Christie’s are widely considered to have been a watershed moment in the handbag market. As the exceptional results of that sale proved, a significant provenance can considerably increase a bag’s value and desirability.

A jaune Courchevel Sellier  Mini Kelly 20 with gold hardware, Hermès, 1991. Length 20 cm, height 14 cm. Sold for €40,000 on 12 December 2017 at Christie’s in Paris

A jaune Courchevel Sellier Mini Kelly 20 with gold hardware, Hermès, 1991. Length 20 cm, height 14 cm. Sold for €40,000 on 12 December 2017 at Christie’s in Paris

Pieces from famous collections consistently achieve top prices at auction, as the seal of approval passes from owner to owner.