Hermès Dictionary: Terms You Need to Know

Hermès bag enthusiasts seem to speak their own language. This is only partly because the atelier describes its product line in French. It’s also the natural evolution of a group of people with a common interest. Soon, insider terms, acronyms, lingo, and abbreviations combine to form a language that only others who share the same passion can understand. Join the conversation as we lift the veil and share our Hermès dictionary to help you navigate the world of Hermès like a native.

Decoding Hermès Leather Types

Every facet of a handmade Hermès bag has its own unique terms. This starts with the luxurious leathers that Hermès artisans produce. You’ll encounter Hermès terms like Barenia, Togo, Epsom, and Tadelakt when discussing the specific leather, each with its unique characteristics. Leather could actually have its own Hermès dictionary, and it would include the following:

  • Boardiness — The stiffness of leather and its ability to hold its shape well.
  • Exotic — Leather from an exotic animal like alligator, crocodile, lizard, or ostrich.
  • Grain — The natural lines and wrinkles that occur on the surface of leather.
  • Hand — The feel of the leather, how soft it is.
  • Patina — The soft sheen or luster that leather develops through use and exposure.
  • Sheen — A soft shine or lustrous quality.

For an illustrated Hermès dictionary of premium leathers, consult our Guide to Hermès Leathers, where you’ll learn all about the following:

  • Ardennes
  • Barenia
  • Buffalo
  • Buffalo Dalmatian
  • Buffalo Gala
  • Buffalo Sindhu
  • Butler
  • Box Calf
  • Chamonix
  • Chèvre de Coromandel
  • Chèvre Mysore
  • Country
  • Courchevel
  • Derma
  • Doblis
  • Epsom
  • Evercalf
  • Evercolor
  • Evergrain
  • Fjord
  • Grain d’H
  • Grizzly
  • Gulliver
  • Jonathan
  • Madame
  • Milo
  • Monsieur
  • Negonda
  • Peau Porc
  • Rodeo
  • Shearling
  • Sikkim
  • Sombrero
  • Swift
  • Tadelakt
  • Taurillon Clemence
  • Taurillon Cristobal
  • Taurillon Novillo
  • Togo
  • Troika
  • Vache
  • Vache Hunter
  • Vache Liegee
  • Vache Trekking
  • Veau Grain Lisse
  • Velvet
  • Vibrato

These Hermès terms all refer to the extraordinary leathers used to create bags, wallets, and shoes. They do not include the Hermès exotic skins used for the most highly coveted bags. These include:

  • Alligator
  • Caiman Crocodile
  • Crocodile Niloticus
  • Crocodile Porosus
  • Lizard Niloticus
  • Lizard Salvator
  • Ostrich

Navigating the World of Hermès Hardware

Another section of our Hermès dictionary focuses on Hermès hardware. The metal pieces, such as the lock and the plaque, are like jewelry for your bag. The exquisite metals and finishes of this hardware require an Hermès terms guide of their own. Thus, we have compiled the following list of Hermès terms for hardware plating:

  • Brushed Gold — 18-karat gold plated with a contemporary “satin” finish.
  • BGHW — Hermès abbreviation for brushed gold hardware.
  • Brushed Palladium — Palladium plated hardware with a “satin” finish.
  • BPHW — Insider Hermès term for brushed palladium hardware.
  • Gold — Hermès 18-karat gold plated hardware buffed to a bright shine.
  • GHW — Term used by Hermès insiders to refer to the classic gold plated hardware.
  • Lacquer — A high-shine enamel used for the “H” clasp on bags such as the Hermès Constance.
  • Palladium — A lustrous metal related to platinum; has a brighter, whiter color than silver and is polished to a bright shine.
  • PHW — Hermès abbreviation for palladium plated hardware.
  • Rose Gold — Gold mixed with copper to achieve a distinctive pinkish gold.
  • RGHW — Hermès lingo referring to rose gold hardware.
  • Permabrass — A champagne hue between gold and palladium.
  • PBHW — Abbreviation used by brand fans to refer to permabrass hardware.
  • PVD — Refers to a coating the atelier uses to darken metal to nearly black, used exclusively on the So Black collection.
  • Ruthenium — An extraordinarily rare metal with a dark, gun-metal gray tone.

Hermès abbreviates many of these hardwares even further on its receipts. For many Hermès collectors, these are the abbreviations that are most commonly used:

  • CC — The abbreviation for gold hardware.
  • CD — The abbreviation for rose gold hardware.
  • CK — The abbreviation for palladium hardware.
  • CP — The abbreviation for permabrass hardware.
  • CZ — The abbreviation for the hardware on a Special Order or Horseshoe Stamped bag; can be any hardware including brushed gold, brushed palladium, permabrass, gold or palladium.

The Hermès dictionary encompasses not only hardware metals and finishes but also the pieces and bag parts they are related to, as detailed below:

  • Clochette — French word for “bell” that is used to refer to the leather cover for the Hermès keys.
  • Clou — The metal feet that hold the Birkin bag and Kelly bag up off the surface they stand on.
  • Gusset — The gathered leather at the side of the bag that allows it to open wider
  • Lock — The metal padlock.
  • Plaque — Hermès term referring to the metal plate at the end of each sangle.
  • Pontet — The two metal brackets that hold the sangles in place, on the Birkin only.
  • Sangles — The slender leather straps that hold the flap in place on a Birkin or Kelly bag.
  • Tiret — The thin strand of leather attaching the clochette that loops around the Birkin and Kelly handles.
  • Touret — The metal stem the sangles can fasten to on the front of a Birkin or Kelly bag.

Next up in our Hermès dictionary, we have bag sizes and styles.

Hermès Bag Sizes and Styles Explained

Many specific Hermès terms, like touret or Tadelakt, describe features unique to the design house. Others have evolved from the fan base. 

To Hermès aficionados, the key abbrevations are as follows:

  • B — Refers to a Birkin and is followed by a number to indicate the size of the bag. For instance, a B35 is a Birkin 35cm bag, while a B25 is a Birkin 25cm bag.
  • C — Refers to a Constance and is followed by a number to indicate the size. Such as a C18 is a Constance 18, while a C24 is a Constance 24cm bag.
  • CTG — Refers to a Constance To Go.
  • GM — Refers to “Grand Modèle”, meaning large. Used to describe the largest size of certain bracelets, ready-to-wear, scarves, etc. Also refers to the Evelyne 33cm. 
  • GP — Refers to a Garden Party and is followed by a number indicating the size.
  • K — Refers to a Kelly and is also followed by a number to indicate the size. A K25 is a Kelly 25cm; a K32 is a Kelly 32cm bag.
  • KC — Refers to a Kelly Cut.
  • KP — Refers to a Kelly Pochette.
  • KTG — Refers to a Kelly To Go.
  • L — Refers to a Lindy and as with the other bags is followed by the size, such as an L26 for a Lindy 26cm bag.
  • ML — Refers to a Mini Lindy, which is 20cm.
  • P — Refers to the Picotin and is followed by the Picotin sizes, such as P18 and P22, which denote 18cm and 22cm respectively.
  • PM — Refers to “Petit Modèle”, commonly used to describe the smaller model of bracelets, ready-to-wear, scarves, etc. Commonly used with the Evelyne 29cm size. 
  • TPM — Refers to the smallest of the Evelyne bags, which is 16cm size.

There are a plethora of other abbreviations and terms used in Hermès-land, here are some of the most popular:

  • Baby Birkin — The Birkin 25cm bag.
  • BBB — A Black Box Birkin, or a Birkin bag in black box calf leather, a classic favorite
  • BBK — A Black Box Kelly, or one made from black box calf leather
  • Casaque — A color-blocking style of Hermès bags with the bag rendered half in one color and half in another
  • CITESConvention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, an international agreement governing the ethical trade of wild animals, their skins, and plants (All exotic Hermès bags are certified.) 
  • Colorway — The combination of colors used in an Hermès scarf design
  • CW — Hermès abbreviation for colorway
  • Faubourg — Among brand aficionados, Faubourg refers to the flagship location at 24, Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré. It is also the name of a limited edition Birkin style crafted to resemble the renowned storefront.
  • Fbg — Hermès abbreviation for Faubourg
  • FSH — Abbreviation for (Rue du) Faubourg Saint-Honoré
  • Himalaya — The crème de la crème of Hermès styles, made with hand-dyed Niloticus crocodile skin and produced only in the Birkin and Kelly bags
  • Horizon — Refers to Hermès items that are completely custom-ordered, bespoke products without any restrictions on the design or construction
  • Horseshoe Stamp — An imprinted symbol only on Hermès Special Order bags, customized by brand VIPs
  • HSS — The abbreviation for Horseshoe Stamp, which refers to the bespoke bags made available to brand VIPs 
  • Kelly Doll — This Hermès term is the English nickname of the Quelle Idole Kelly bag that looks like a doll with eyes, arms, and legs.
  • Mini — The smallest size of a bag style (The Birkin mini is 25cm, the mini Kelly is 20cm, and the mini Constance is 18cm.)
  • MKII — This refers to the current or second Mini Kelly. A previous Mini Kelly had a longer handle and different proportions.
  • Petit H — Products created from remnants of Hermes leathers, silks and other materials. Petit H handbags are made in limited quantities and VIPs have the opportunity to order a one-of-a-kind Petit H handbag.
  • Picnic — A limited edition of classic Hermès bags, including the Birkin, Kelly, and Bolide, crafted from woven wicker and finished in premium leather. 
  • Retourne — This Hermès lingo refers to one of two styles used to make Kelly bags or Birkins. Retourne bags are sewn together, then the leather is turned inside out, so the cut edge of the leather cannot be seen. The Retourne style is more “relaxed” and casual than the Sellier style. 
  • Sellier — Unlike the Retourne bags, Sellier styles feature seams with exposed topstitching, and the cut leather edges are finished in colored wax. Originally, all Birkin bags were made in the Retourne style, and all the Kellys were Sellier. Today, both bags are available in either style. Learn more about Sellier vs. Retourne to determine your preference. 
  • SLG — Small Leather Goods, referring to leather items that are not worn. These include purse charms, coin holders, wallets, card holders, etc.
  • SO — Another term for the HSS or Special Order bags.

Color Codes in the Hermès Universe

Hermès artisans have an extraordinary way with color. Hundreds of colors have been created, encompassing sophisticated neutral shades, brilliant hues, and delicate pastels. Every Hermès color is assigned a two-digit alphanumeric code. Some colors are better known by their codes. (For instance, the enduringly popular Bubblegum Pink, is frequently referred to as “5P.” For this reason, we’re including the color codes in our Hermès dictionary.

This list of Hermès colors is not exhaustive, but it’s close:

  • (01) Blanc
  • (08) Bleu Pale 
  • (09) Mauve Pale 
  • (0F) Bleu Frida 
  • (0G) Rouge Sellier 
  • (0L) Gris Meyer 
  • (0M) Chai 
  • (0R) Rose Pop 
  • (0S) Vert Fizz
  • (0U) New White 
  • (0W) Gris Neve 
  • (0X) Orange Minium 
  • (0Y) Limoncello
  • (0Z) Vert Comic 
  • (10) Craie 
  • (16) Taupe 
  • (18) Etoupe 
  • (19) Mousse 
  • (1D) Desert 
  • (1H) Toffee 
  • (1K) Bambou 
  • (1L) Cactus 
  • (1P) Colvert 
  • (1Q) Rose Confetti 
  • (1T) Vert Titien 
  • (1Z) Jaune Poussin 
  • (21) Naturel-Sable 
  • (22) Safran 
  • (27) Naturel 
  • (28) Caramel 
  • (2C) Curry 
  • (2E) Cannelle 
  • (2H) Kraft 
  • (2P) Cumin 
  • (2Q) Vert Anglais 
  • (2R) Rouge Pivoine 
  • (2T) Bleu Paradis 
  • (2V) Rouge Duchesse 
  • (2Z) Bleu Nuit 
  • (30) Noisette 
  • (33) Miel 
  • (34) Fauve 
  • (35) Cognac 
  • (36) Brique 
  • (37) Gold 
  • (39) Blue Navy 
  • (3B) Cornaline 
  • (3C) Parchemin 
  • (3G) Alezan 
  • (3H) Ocre 
  • (3I) Vert Criquet 
  • (3L) Rose Thé 
  • (3P) Atoll 
  • (3Q) Rose Sakura 
  • (3S) Macassar 
  • (3V) Aubergine 
  • (3W) Prunoir 
  • (3X) Basalte 
  • (3Z) Bleu Saint Cyr 
  • (41) Havanne 
  • (44) Moka
  • (45) Marron Fonce 
  • (46) Rouge Hermès 
  • (46) Ebene 
  • (47) Chocolat 
  • (4A) Café 
  • (4C) Ecorce 
  • (4D) Terre 
  • (4H) Cacao 
  • (4I) Marron d'Inde 
  • (4V) Rouille 
  • (4W) Glycine 
  • (4Y) Gris Fume 
  • (4Z) Gris Mouette 
  • (51) Rouge Exotique 
  • (53) Rouge de Coeur 
  • (53) Rouge Vif 
  • (56) Rouge Moyen 
  • (57) Bordeaux 
  • (58) Prune 
  • (59) Raisin 
  • (5C) Violin 
  • (5E) Vermillion 
  • (5F) Potiron 
  • (5H) Cyclamen 
  • (5I) Rouge Chili 
  • (5J) Fuchsia 
  • (5K) Tangerine 
  • (5L) Ultraviolet 
  • (5N) Rose Indien 
  • (5P) Bubblegum 
  • (5Q) Rouge Venitien 
  • (5R) Rose Shocking 
  • (5U) Rose Dragee 
  • (5V) Rosy 
  • (5X) Rouge Piment 
  • (5Z) Rouge Indien 
  • (60) Vert Bronze 
  • (60) Vert Cypress 
  • (61) Vert Olive 
  • (63) Vert Amande 
  • (66) Vert Anis 
  • (67) Vert Fonce 
  • (6C) Cuivre 
  • (6D) Chartreuse 
  • (6D) Vert Chartreuse 
  • (6E) Pistache 
  • (6F) Lichen 
  • (6G) Pelouse 
  • (6H) Vert Veronese 
  • (6J) Vert D'Eau 
  • (6L) Vert Bengale 
  • (6Q) Vert Emeraude 
  • (6R) Kiwi 
  • (6T) Toundra 
  • (6W) Menthe 
  • (71) Bleu France 
  • (73) Bleu Saphir 
  • (75) Bleu Jean 
  • (76) Bleu Indigo 
  • (77) Bleu Iris 
  • (78) Blue Marine 
  • (7A) Bleu Thalassa 
  • (7B) Turquoise 
  • (7D) Bleu Canard 
  • (7E) Bleu Brighton 
  • (7F) Bleu Paon 
  • (7G) Ciel 
  • (7K) Bleu Abysse 
  • (7L) Bleu de Malte 
  • (7M) Bleu Azteque 
  • (7N) Celeste 
  • (7Q) Mykonos 
  • (7R) Bleu Azur 
  • (7T) Bleu Electrique 
  • (7W) Bleu Izmir 
  • (80) Gris Perle 
  • (81) Gris Tourterelle 
  • (82) Gris Agate 
  • (85) Ardoise 
  • (88) Graphite 
  • (89) Noir 
  • (8B) Griolet 
  • (8G) Fusain 
  • (8L) Beton 
  • (8P) Plomb
  • (8Q) Beige Marfa 
  • (8S) Gris Souris 
  • (8T) Rose Candy 
  • (8V) Orange Poppy 
  • (8W) Rose Azalee 
  • (91) Sauge 
  • (93) Orange 
  • (94) Terre Cuite 
  • (95) Braise 
  • (97) Mauve 
  • (9D) Jaune Ambre 
  • (9G) Amethyst 
  • (9H) Soleil 
  • (9I) Magnolia 
  • (9J) Feu 
  • (9K) Iris 
  • (9M) Sanguine 
  • (9P) Parme 
  • (9R) Lime 
  • (9T) Capucine 
  • (9U) Moutarde 
  • (9V) Jaune D’Or 
  • (9W) Crocus 
  • (9Y) Pain D'Epice 
  • (9Z) Mangue 
  • (A5) Bougainvillea 
  • (A8) Vert Yucca 
  • (B3) Blue Zanzibar 
  • (B4) Sun 
  • (B5) Rubis 
  • (C6) Vert de Gris 
  • (C9) Soufre 
  • (D2) New Blue Jean 
  • (E5) Rose Tyrien 
  • (F6) Eucalyptus 
  • (G5) Bois de Rose 
  • (I5) Flamingo 
  • (I6) Rose Extreme
  • (M4) Gris Pale 

Essential Hermès Customer Acronyms, Abbreviations, and Terms

The final section of our Hermès dictionary is devoted to the terms related to and devised by Hermès customers. Here are the most common Hermès terms used by brand aficionados:

  • Birkin bait — Slang term customers use for the many thousands of dollars worth of non-handbag products they purchase in order to be allowed to purchase a Birkin or Kelly bag.
  • H.com — Customers’ shorthand for the Hermes.com website.
  • H Fairy — An affectionate name for your Sales Associate, who may bestow the opportunity to purchase a coveted handbag.
  • Holy Grail — Referred to the three most coveted Hermès bags — Birkin, Kelly, or Constance. The three together are referred to as the “Holy Trinity” or the “Holy Grail”.
  • Leather Appointment — The appointment a client must make to view and perhaps purchase a handbag at a boutique in Paris. Such appointments are done by lottery and, therefore, very hard to secure.
  • Offer — A specific bag offered to a customer with the opportunity to purchase.
  • Pre-spend — The amount spent, primarily on products unrelated to handbags, with hope of getting a holy grail bag.
  • Profile — When you shop from a boutique, a detailed account of all your purchases is collected in your profile.
  • Purchase history — The extent and variety of items a customer has purchased, is carefully considered when determining whether to offer a bag.
  • Quota or Quota bag — Customers are restricted to buying no more than two quota bags per year at a boutique. Only Birkin and Kelly bags are governed by the quota system. All boutiques share access to your profile, so you cannot buy a third bag in a year by visiting a different boutique.
  • SA — The abbreviation refers to a Sales Associate in a boutique. Most people work closely with a single SA to build a relationship and improve their chances of being given a chance to purchase a bag. 
  • SM — The abbreviation refers to the boutique’s Sales Manager. The SM of a boutique must approve the SA’s decision to offer a bag to a customer.
  • Spa — The cleaning expert cleaning, reconditioning, and repair offered by the brand. Hermès stands by its bags and will “spa” any bag providing it is authentic.. 

Whether you’re fluent in Hermès lingo or just starting to study the language, Madison Avenue Couture is your go-to for authentic Hermès bags. You’ll be able to pick out precisely what you want — no Birkin bait required, and no quota imposed! That’s right, you’re welcome to purchase grail bags at any time with absolutely no pre-spend. HSS bags, Kelly Doll, Himalaya — it’s entirely up to you. Don’t worry that your Hermès dictionary will go to waste. We’re happy to speak Hermès with you. 

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