Hermès and Chanel are two of the top luxury leather goods brands, particularly known for their famous handbags, but which brand is right for you? We’ve got all the answers in this Hermès vs Chanel article.
Both of these luxury brands create high-quality luxury goods including handbags, accessories, and clothing but trying to decide between these two brands can be difficult.
Hermès, one of the oldest French fashion houses, is famous for its leather goods, particularly the Birkin and Kelly handbags, which have turned out to be some of the most expensive handbags in the world.
In comparison, Chanel creates some of the most incredible ready-to-wear and haute couture clothing collections shown in elaborate catwalk shows, as well as gorgeous bags, accessories, perfumes, and makeup.
There are several similarities between these brands, but we are going to take a look at the differences to help you decide which brand is better for you. This article will explore the history of each brand, the key differences between them, and a little look at their best-selling bags, before coming to a conclusion on Hermès vs Chanel.
Hermès vs channel
the history of Hermès
Hermès is one of the most exclusive brands in the world, a reputation they have built up since its founding in 1837. The company was started by Thierry Hermès and was originally a harness workshop that catered to the wealthy equestrian society in France, and later to all wealthy members of society across Europe.
Hermès was an equestrian leather goods brand all throughout the 19th century, and it wasn’t until the 1920s that clothing and fashion accessories were added to the brand. Some of the best-known Hermès pieces were added to the collection in the 1930s, including their famous square scarves and the Sac à dépêches, which is now known as the Kelly bag, after Grace Kelly.
In 1970, Jean-Louis Dumas was brought in to turn the fortunes of the Hermès brand around, focusing on the exquisite craftsmanship of Hermès bags and silk goods, and soon Hermès began to increase in popularity.
In 1997, Martin Margiela became the director of the womenswear collection, creating some stunning collections, then Jean-Paul Gaultier took over this role in 2003. The current creative director is Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski, who continues to create incredible fashion collections and accessories – the Hermès handbags continue to be unparalleled in the fashion world.
The history of Chanel
Chanel is a French fashion house, founded by couturière Gabrielle Chanel in 1910, who began as a milliner but soon expanded to create beautiful women’s clothing. Gabrielle, or Coco Chanel, as she became more commonly known, created revolutionary clothing for women that freed them from the corset and allowed freedom of movement.
Chanel’s designs included blouses and trousers, which were pieces women did not often wear at the beginning of the 20th century. They were made from comfortable fabrics, such as jersey. Even the colors used in Chanel’s designs were unusual; most clothing was black, grey, and navy, which were traditionally menswear colors.
Coco Chanel felt inspired by Christian Dior’s New Look collection and reopened the Chanel brand in 1953 after WW II. Her collections fitted with the contemporary silhouette of full circle skirts and narrow waists.
Chanel womenswear collections, particularly the Chanel suits proved popular throughout the 20th century. This was also the period that Chanel handbags and leather goods were added to the collection.
Karl Lagerfeld became the brand’s chief designer in 1983, keeping the favorite elements of the Chanel brand, but continuing to create revolutionary designs displayed in extravagant fashion shows with elaborate sets. Virginie Viard became the creative director of Chanel in 2019 and continued to create sublime ready-to-wear collections and classic handbags that are famous all over the world.
The differences between Hermès Vs Chanel
There are some key differences between these two brands that you should be aware of, that will help you decide which brand is right for you.
1. Price range
Firstly, the price range of these bags differ somewhat, which may have an impact on which brand is right for you. Most of Chanel’s bags are available for $5,000 and $10,000 – this is after a recent price increase, but there are always price increases with expensive handbags so it’s best to get a Chanel bag sooner rather than later!
Hermès bags’ typical retail price can range between $3,600 and $11,000, but bags on the waiting list can sell for much more, with exotic leather Kelly and Birkin bags available for $40,000+.
While you may think that the most popular bags from each brand retail for pretty similar prices, we have to touch on the fact that most people cannot simply walk into a Hermès store and demand to get a Birkin or Kelly in your preferred color.
It’s well known that Hermès typically only sells to customers who have a previous purchase history with the brand. Luxury enthusiasts have dubbed this as “playing the Hermès game”, where you strategically purchase items from the brand for a few years, before expecting to get offered one of the highly desirable bags.
And yes, you read that right – you’ll get offered a bag, meaning that you don’t always even get to choose the finishing color or leather you would like to have on the bag. You might, but it’s not guaranteed!
The Hermès game has its disadvantages for sure, but once you are a loyal customer, things look a bit uphill. For starters, if you manage to buy a Kelly or a Birkin for retail price, you could sell it for thousands of profit instantly on the second hand market, because they are so hard to buy first hand!
On the contrary, while Chanel is making strides to curb the availability of their bags, for now, Chanel bags are much more readily available compared to Hermès. You can typically walk into a store and buy one of their classics without any issue, although they typically only keep a black version of the classic flap on hand – other colors may or may not be available.
However, as we mentioned, Chanel does seem to want to become more exclusive, so getting a classic bag exactly when you want it may be harder in the near future. There have also been talks about Chanel limiting the purchase of a classic bag to 1 or 2 per year – something that Hermès has been doing for a long time already.
Hermès and Chanel bags are made from a range of different materials, and some may be better suited to your lifestyle than others. Chanel makes use of caviar, calfskin, goatskin, lambskin and deerskin leathers in the production of their handbags. If you are looking for something other than leather, there are also classic bags from Chanel available in tweed and other canvases.
Hermès also uses a range of leathers in the production of their handbags, including swift, Togo, Epsom, and taurillon Clemence leather as well as ostrich, Niloticus crocodile, Porosus crocodile, and alligator leathers. Hermès also offers a canvas option, but the majority of bags are made from the highest quality leather.
If you were to compare Hermès vs Chanel quality, you’ll see many luxury enthusiast sing the praises of Hermès’ impeccable craftsmanship. While the brand has steadily increased the prices of their bags, the quality has remained consistent.
However, you can’t necessarily say the same for Chanel. Many have been complaining that the quality of Chanel has gone down in the past years, even though the prices have been pushed up. One notable example is that vintage Chanel bags used to be gold plated – this is not the case anymore.
Other common complaints revolve around Chanel’s costume jewelry, especially earrings – it’s not uncommon to see rhinestones and faux pearls fall off from Chanel’s jewelry.
4. resale value
While both brands preform well on the second hand market and are great investments, the resale value of Hermès is unparalleled in the world of luxury. Hermès is known for its exclusivity across all Hermès pieces, particularly the highly coveted Constance, Kelly and Birkin bags, which means their resale value is particularly high.
Hermès bags, including the Kelly and the Birkin are known as great investment pieces as you can get sell them on the second-hand market for more than you paid for them when they were new – even if you decide to sell them on the day that you purchase them! (However, we actually wouldn’t recommend this – surely, you want to enjoy your bag before selling it!). Hermès bags are always in demand because they are so hard to get hold of new.
Chanel bags have a great resale value too, but it is not as high as Hermès bags. Chanel bags have not always been as exclusive as they are now, and this means that are quite a few Chanel handbags available on resale sites such as Fashionphile and Vestaire Collective.
If you are strictly buying bags with the intention of selling them on, both brands are great to purchase from, but Chanel bags are much easier to get a hold of.
Best-selling bags from Hermès Vs Chanel
Both luxury brands create some of the most famous bags in the world, so we have brought together the best handbags from both of these brands to help you decide between Hermès vs Chanel.
1. top-handle bags
You can’t beat the sophisticated style of a top handle bag, and both fashion houses have some stunning options!
The Hermès Birkin Bag is one of the most sought-after handbags in the world – and its exclusivity has only made it more desirable.
The Birkin bag was actually made by Jean-Louis Dumas specifically for British actress Jane Birkin in 1984 before being released as a handbag that customers could buy. This famous bag is available in many different colors, sizes, and types of leather so you can pick the option that perfectly suits your look.
This gold Togo leather edition of the Hermès Birkin is so versatile and a total classic. The bag is finished with rolled leather top handles, palladium-plated hardware, and a goatskin leather interior. This timeless Birkin is available for $30,980
The Chanel Mini Coco bags are so stylish, and in this cornflower blue shade, really make a statement. The Mini Coco, just like many other Chanel bags is made from caviar leather which has been decorated with diamond quilting and finished off with a CC turn-lock closure – also in this stunning blue shade.
The structured rolled leather top handle is just one carrying option, this Chanel bag also comes with a chain shoulder strap with a leather pad.
The interior is lined with a blue fabric and fitted with a zipper pocket to keep all your essentials organized. Get your hands on this beautiful bag for just $5,295.
2. shoulder bags
Shoulder bags come in many different shapes and sizes, and both of these options from Hermès and Chanel are complete classics.
The Hermès Kelly bag, named after actress and Princess of Monaco, Grace Kelly, is a must-have designer bag. Kelly bags are in high demand so there can be a waiting list if you buy a new one, but there are many excellent quality options on the secondary market.
This Kelly bag is made from gold Epsom calfskin leather, with contrasting topstitching, and embellished with gold plated hardware.
There is a top handle as well as a detachable shoulder strap so you can wear this bag in many different ways. This compact bag has a goatskin-lined interior which is finished with a flat pocket.
The classic Chanel flap bag is instantly recognizable, with its diamond-quilted leather exterior, CC logo lock, and leather threaded chain strap.
This warm beige caviar leather is the perfect neutral shade, and the gleaming gold hardware is a flawless finishing touch. The flap bag has been made in a variety of different sizes, but the medium is ideal if you are looking for something you can use regularly as your everyday handbag.
The front flap opens to reveal an inner flap and matching leather interior with patch pockets.
3. crossbody bags
Crossbody bags are so handy and functional – the perfect everyday handbag. And luckily Hermès and Chanel both have some gorgeous options!
The Hermès Constance is a classic bag that is so effortlessly elegant, with a minimalist look that will really stand the test of time.
Crafted from smooth black leather, this bag features a silver Hermès H logo on the front, which also functions as a lock for front flap closure. The delicate leather crossbody strap attaches to the top of the bag with silver hardware – an outstanding design detail.
The interior of this bag is lined with leather and then partitioned so you can keep all of your daily essentials organized. Get your hands on this stunning Hermès bag for $9,025.
The Chanel Boy bag is a cult classic that is beloved by fashion enthusiasts all over the world. The exquisite quilting of the lambskin leather, with the combination of diamond quilting and channel quilting around the border, really makes this an iconic bag.
The light gold hardware of the CC press lock perfectly complements the burgundy leather. The adjustable chunky chain strap features a leather shoulder pad to guarantee comfort.
The front flap opens to reveal a burgundy fabric-lined interior with a flat pocket – the perfect size for your phone, keys, and wallet!
4. tote bags
Tote bags are ideal as both a work bag and a weekend bag – and Hermès and Chanel have some beautiful options, whatever your style.
The Hermès Taurillon Clemence Picotin Lock bag has a relaxed silhouette, with a structured base, and gleaming hardware – so practical and so stunning!
This deep blue Hermès bag is made from taurillon Clemence calfskin leather which has a luxuriously textured finish and then is decorated with sparkling palladium plated hardware for the lock on the front and sturdy feet.
This tote has looping shoulder handles and a suede-lined spacious interior that has plenty of room to fit all of your most needed items.
The mix of textures on this black tonal bag makes this tote stylish addition to any luxury handbag collection.
The structured silhouette of this Chanel Canvas Pearl Medium Deauville Tote is crafted from black canvas and then embellished with black pearls which create the Chanel Rue Cambon Paris logo for a glamourous, glittering touch.
There are both rolled leather top handles and a fabric threaded chain strap so there are endless ways to style this tote bag. The open top means easy access to the roomy interior, which is fitted with zipper and patch pockets so you can keep everything organized and easy to find.
Both Hermès and Chanel produce iconic bags so you can’t really go wrong with either brand, but there are some factors you should consider that will help come to a conclusion on Hermès vs Chanel.
If you have a slightly smaller budget and would like a stylish, classic bag, then Chanel is the right brand for you, especially if you’re open to buying bags secondhand! The handbags are much more readily available, they’re slightly cheaper than Hermès and have an elegant and chic style that would fit right into any wardrobe.
If you have a little more to spend and want a really iconic, famous bag that will look eternally sophisticated, then Hermès is the brand to go for.
These minimalist bags are beloved all over the world, and their timeless silhouettes will really stand the test of time. If you don’t want to spend years chasing a bag, we recommend checking second hand luxury consignment storesto find your perfect bag.
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