Hermès Life Sportif
The Hermès Life Sportif has always been central to the brand’s identity, and the ultimate activity of leisure and luxury is picnicking. Crafted from Osier Wicker, these are the only bags that require two top-level craftspeople to create: a master saddler for the leather, and an expert basket weaver for the body, which reportedly takes around 10 hours to craft. Osier wicker items such as trays, thermoses and bottle holders have been produced in limited quantities for decades, though Jean-Paul Gaultier’s introduction of the Picnic Kelly in 2011 forever changed the identity of this eternally summery material. This 35cm Picnic Kelly, which walked the runway and hit stores that same year, was unique for its stark departure from practicality. Objectively difficult as both a handbag and as a picnic basket, the Kelly Picnic was undoubtedly meant for show.
The success of this design was not immediately cemented in the collecting community as early examples selling at auction soon after their release averaged only about double retail. Special examples of the Hermès 35cm Picnic Kelly were produced in following years for boutique openings with unique colored Swift leather instead of the classic Fauve Barenia, and the design was re-issued for a brief stint in 2017.
Hermès Mini Picnic
This preceded the release of the diminutive edition which first appeared in the Resort 2019 runway show. Now produced in seven different colors (Fauve Barenia, and Swift in White, Jaune de Naples, Blue du Nord, Rouge de Coeur, Vert Verone, and introduced in 2021, Blue Brume) the 20cm Mini Picnic Kelly overtook its big sister from the start.
With a retail price reportedly around $13,800 this puny picnic pouch is the prime example of how Hermès bags can outpace all others on the secondary market. Since its auction debut in 2019, the mini Kelly Picnic has averaged over 50% above its 35cm counterpart, with prices for the latter dropping by almost 50% between 2017 and 2020. A 35cm Picnic Kelly sold in November of last year for a mere $27,247 in a Hong Kong auction, the first time one of these highly collectible bags has sold for less than $30,000 since 2012, and the second lowest price ever paid at auction for a Picnic Kelly. Conversely, a record was set last year with Sotheby’s Hong Kong auction sale of a Vert Verone Mini Picnic Kelly for $105,332.
Hermès Picnic Birkin
This season we look ahead to the new Picnic Birkin, which was released first in miniature size and has yet to sell at auction. Privately this rare style, which has been produced in a number of different colors, sells in the six figure range, though their retail price does not much top that of the Picnic Kelly. Though the 35cm Picnic Kelly has declined in value since the arrival of the mini, its auction prices are climbing again. It’s likely the value of these two sizes will continue to grow in tandem for future auction seasons.