Hermes has a long history of experimenting with new ways to craft the luxury materials they’re famous for using. In 2000 as an exciting new millenium began, an exciting new material started popping up in Hermes stores around the world. Dense with thin colorful stripes, this suede-like material was called Vibrato. The unique and vibrant patterns are created by layering hundreds of pieces of different colored Chevre goat leather, firmly adhering each layer together and pressing the stack before slicing it to reveal the stunning displays of color. These slices were then used to create a myriad of handbags and accessories.
From the very beginning Hermes leaned into the multicolored possibilities of Vibrato. Not only did they create Vibrato patterns in a vast array of color combinations, they trimmed these with an equally diverse range of colored leathers, mainly in Box and Togo. Vibrato was used to make Plumes, Trims, Herbags, Evelynes, Jiges, and all sorts of other designs, but the rarest and most coveted are the Birkins, HACs, and Kellys, both Retourne and Sellier. Examples can be found in every size up to 35cm, excluding 20cm Kellys and 25cm Birkins. Produced in seemingly every Vibrato combination throughout the material’s lifespan, which Hermes discontinued in 2007, these bags can be found in symphonies of black, white, brown, red, blue, yellow, purple, green, and wild combinations of many sorts. Some Sellier Kellys feature a Vibrato mosaic created by slicing the panels into strips and offsetting the patterns before tiling them back together.
The soft suede texture of Vibrato makes it susceptible to dirt and darkening with use, so Hermes provided a special eraser to clean the material, which many Vibrato bags on the secondary market no longer have. Due to the construction of the material, many people worried Vibrato may split with heavy use, but over the past twenty years, this has proven to be unfounded. Even the earliest Vibrato bags that show lots of wear hold together without issue. The leather stacking process is very similar to how heels are made in leather-soled shoes. The glue and leather bind together extremely well when pressed.
At the very end of its run Hermes released an updated Vibrato pattern created with undulating waves rather than straight lines. This exciting step forward was only produced in a simple tote bag called the Canoe before the House discontinued Vibrato altogether. Today, Vibrato bags are easily found on the secondary market, but Vibrato Birkins and Kellys can be hard to come by. With so many variations produced, you never know which combination might pop up next. The rarest and most desirable size is the 25cm Kelly, which can be extremely hard to come by in an appealing color scheme. In recent years collectors have started vying for these bags with more passion, driving up prices at auction to new records each season. The unique nature of each Vibrato bag makes a complete collection virtually impossible. Every Vibrato bag you see is in some way slightly different than any other one you may have come across before.