The best Hermès Kelly bag alternatives for classic luxury chic at every budget

Three letters often come up in the course of discussion regarding luxury handbags: BKC. Seemingly nonsensical to the average layman, they can inspire venerated ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs‘ among those who know, as they represent the three most covetable bags from French luxury maison Hermes. The (B)irkin, the (K)elly, and the (C)onstance.

Of the three, the Kelly is the oldest and perhaps most storied, given its lineage that can be traced back to both Golden Age Hollywood and literal royalty. Introduced back in 1935, the original Hermès Kelly design was initially known as the Sac à dépêches, or ‘dispatch bag’ in English. The design brief was simple, taking evolutionary cues from an even earlier version known as the Haut à courroies bag, which was favoured by jockeys for use on the equestrian circuit.

Prior to gaining global acclaim, the Sac à dépêches served a rather solitary purpose of carrying documents and papers neatly without causing wrinkles or creases, leading to its slim profile and almost briefcase-like sensibilities. However, the bag would go on to attract another segment of clientele; wealthy women from the period who wanted a handbag that was in equal parts elegant, understated, and practical.

In that regard, the bag delivered with aplomb with its trapezoidal shape and sleek lines, complete with a flap opening that was secured by the now signature Hermes touret and leather sangles adorned with metal plaques.

While it gained steady popularity among the fashion set, it wouldn’t be until the bag was seen on Hollywood actress and Monaco royalty, Princess Grace Kelly, did it truly take on the title of an ‘It Bag’ in its own right. One of the most photographed women in the 50s, Kelly’s fame as a silver-screen star was cemented into legend when she married Prince Rainier III of Monaco.

As is the case with celebrity product placements of today, photos of the Hermes Sac à dépêches bag were widely circulated across the globe when Kelly famously used it to hide her baby bump from the view of the paparazzi. Thus, the bag was renamed the Hermes Kelly in her honour and a fashion icon was born.

But of course, Hermès bags don’t come cheap and that is most certainly the case with the Kelly, often fetching minimum figures of well over RM30,000 (over INR 5 lakh approx.) for a seasoned and well-loved example on the secondary market.

That isn’t to say that you wouldn’t be able to find an alternative that could serve as a potential substitute for the Hermes Kelly, echoing the very same classic, quiet luxury appeal but at a more attainable price point. Here are our top picks for the best Hermes Kelly bag dupe styles to look out for in luxury fashion.

10 best Hermes Kelly bag dupe designs for every budget

(Approx.) INR 200027

To get the Hermes Kelly look, the most crucial aspect is to nail its general shape. Where that’s concerned, Italian luxury goods label Ferragamo offers an ideal alternative by way of its very own Iconic Top Handle Bag. An archival design that shares the Kelly’s trapezoidal shape, the bag sets itself apart by sporting a massive Gancini lock closure up front, which defines its identity. You may even order it in a North-South style, for an even more unique look.

Within, expect to find two main compartments bisected by a middle partition for tidy storage, in addition to a zippered pocket in the back for small, loose items.

Note: The price of this item is converted from USD to MYR based on currency exchange rates as of writing. 

This isn’t the first time that we’ve brought up the visual similarities that the Tory Burch Lee Radziwill line of bags share with their considerably more expensive Hermes counterparts. Named after Lee Radziwill, the sister of famed First Lady Jacquline Kennedy, this is perhaps the best bet for a Kelly bag shape at a truly pocket-friendly price point.

The top handle iteration of the Lee Radziwill bag is defined by traditionally clean, uninterrupted lines. But in the ‘Cat Eye’ guise, it turns the look on its head by being wider at the top, and narrower at the base. From the front, two sangles attach against a metal lock mechanism featuring the Tory Burch ‘T’ emblem. In terms of its interior, capacity is at a premium owing to its design so you may have to pack accordingly.

Note: The price of this item is converted from AED to MYR based on currency exchange rates as of writing. 

(Approx.) INR 265199

Blink, and you may just confuse the Saint Laurent Manhattan Top Handle bag with the Hermes Kelly. One of the newest additions to the Manhattan line, this iteration of the Saint Laurent shape leaves no doubt that it can serve as a body double for one of Hermes’ most beloved styles, all the way down to the way that the sangles attach to a magnetic closure in the middle of the bag’s front flap.

Of course, that isn’t to say that both bags are identical. In the case of the Manhattan, the top handle is attached by two lobster clasps and can be removed and replaced with a crossbody strap, if you want a more practical approach. As for capacity, you get one open section and a slip pocket in the back.


Polo Ralph Lauren ID Satchel

American fashion label Ralph Lauren is best known for being one of the most recognisable purveyors of American East Coast prep. While many will no doubt be familiar with their distinct lines of Polo shirts and chinos, much of their accessories have flown relatively under the radar. But if you’re out to nab yourself a Kelly-adjacent handbag, they may just be one of the best brands to start keeping in mind.

This is owing to the addition of the Polo Ralph Lauren ID Satchel to their range of handbags, which has more than just a passing resemblance to Grace Kelly’s arm candy of choice. The sangles and pointe are all present, but this time with the metal plaques etched with the Polo emblem instead. Open up the top flap and you’ll find a generous main compartment that can be expanded with accordion gussets. Unlike the Kelly however, this is strictly a top-handle only moment.

(Approx.) INR 45511

Budget-friendly options don’t just stop there, as Italian leather goods brand Furla also has a Kelly alternative to offer for your consideration with their 1927 Top Handle. Thoughtfully designed, the bag makes a point of calling back to the general silhouette of the Hermes number, without outright lifting too many elements verbatim from it.

Instead, distinctive touches such as the Furla lock, which occupies pride of place on the bag’s front flap, help to create a sense of uniqueness from a sea of similar shapes. The bag scores further points for practicality with two compartments sectioned off by a partition, with a zippered pocket for security and an exterior slip pocket on the bag’s back.

Note: The price of this item is converted from SGD to MYR based on currency exchange rates as of writing. 

(Approx.) INR 232556

By now, you’re probably familiar with the Kelly bag’s key design details: leather sangle straps with metal plaques, held together by a touret. This is to say that most other silhouettes that attempt to approximate the bag will share similar, if not identical traits. But that’s not the case with Gucci‘s Ophidia GG Small Top Handle bag, which while exuding much of the Kelly’s sophisticated demeanor, stands unique.

While the bag does keep its classic trapezoidal lines and obligatory top handle, it embodies a strong chord of Gucci’s core house codes. This is expressed through the use of the GG Supreme coated canvas and the Web stripe, combined with a brushed metal push-lock on the front. You won’t have to worry about capacity either, as the Ophidia GG Small Top Handle has plenty to spare by way of two main sections, one zippered pocket, and one slip pocket.

Note: The price of this item is converted from USD to MYR based on currency exchange rates as of writing. 

INR 292107

Valentino Garavani has witnessed nothing short of a true revival in the general fashion consciousness, under the stewardship of its current creative director, Pierpaolo Piccioli. Thanks to his careful balancing of extravagant details tempered by sleek silhouettes, the Italian fashion house is entering yet another period of surging popularity among celebrities and luxury consumers alike.

If you count yourself a fan of the neuvo Valentino movement and want a Kelly-appropriate alternative to add to your collection, trust that the VSLING Top Handle will be more than capable of filling that void. This dainty, demure number can be held using its top handle, carried on the shoulder with its strap, or worn crossbody with its chain fully extended. Its trapezoidal shape, while echoing the Kelly, is spruced up with a colour-matched VLogo closure that adds a subtle but luxurious touch.

(And yes, you can also opt to purchase it in bedazzled crystals, if bling bling is your thing)

Note: The price of this item is converted from USD to MYR based on currency exchange rates as of writing. 

(Approx.) INR 266737

Once again, we return to the maison of Saint Laurent for yet another Hermes Kelly doppelganger. Given the French fashion house’s consistently modernist, stripped-back aesthetics that appeal to the modern corporate Amazonian or femme fatale, it isn’t surprising how this shape continues to feature heavily throughout their accessories collection as a staple.

In comparison with the Manhattan bag from before, the Le Fermoir doesn’t appear to share nearly as many visual cues with the Kelly bag at first glance beyond its shape, with a discreet front flap adorned only with a simple buckle. But flip it open and some of the similarities are present, most prominently seen in the non-removable leather sangles. The bag can be worn as a crossbody too, using the adjustable and removable strap.

INR 154654

The Hermes Kelly is synonymous with old money, that much is certain. After all, you’re going to need to be in a position of generational wealth in order to afford one to begin with. But in the case of Balenciaga, you’ll be able to nick a similar style for around a third of the price of a brand-new Kelly bag, with the Money Top Handle.

By now, it should come as no surprise at all that the French fashion house would release satirical parodies of cult fashion items, and the Money Top Handle falls perfectly in line with their aesthetic. This otherwise unassuming classic handbag is only adorned with a single turn-lock in the front, which can be opened to reveal a roomy main compartment that is gusseted on the sides, just like the Kelly.

Note: The price of this item is converted from USD to MYR based on currency exchange rates as of writing. 

INR 254000

The name Cartier conjures up images of brilliantly faceted jewels, or exquisite horological masterpieces worn on the wrist of the privileged few who can afford them. But did you happen to know that the brand also offers an extensive range of handbags for sale as well? While their designs aren’t likely to leave much to surprise, they play well into the French label’s inherent heritage of high luxury.

This is especially true of the Cartier Panthère de Cartier Top Handle, which sports a ladylike shape in a traditional top handle silhouette as the Hermes Kelly does. But of course, it wouldn’t be a Cartier piece without some bejeweled flair, and this comes courtesy of a large gold and black enamel finish ‘C’ clasp on the bag’s front.

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