The Hermès Roulis: Behind the Clasp 

The Hermès Roulis: Behind the Clasp 

SACLÀB ICONS
Within the distinguished array of Hermès creations, the understated elegance of the Hermès Roulis emerges—a classic, square-shaped crossbody that marries utility with comfort, culminating in the perfect everyday bag. With only the metal clasp to give away its equestrian origins, the Roulis is an evergreen design imperative for any discerning collection.
Text by Hagar Eita

Origins & Details

While you may know Hermès mainly for introducing the world to some of the most renowned (and most expensive) bags in existence—the Birkin and Kelly—the French luxury brand has a portfolio of models that demonstrate just as vividly why Hermès has become the powerhouse it is today.

Introducing: The Hermès Roulis. This model blends retro-esque aesthetics with futuristic elements, giving it a unique appearance. All while remaining ever-so-practical in use. Launched as part of the 2011 Spring / Summer collection, the Roulis has become an evergreen favourite in the fashion world. 

Its most distinctive element is its simple metal clasp –a minimalistic touch that enhances its futuristic look but also pays homage to the rich history of Hermès. The clasp itself is a reference to a much older design. Hermès’ classic Chaîne d’Ancre link design, resembling a stretched ‘H’, has long been a symbol of innovation and progress since its initial inspiration from ship anchor chains. Conceived by designer and later CEO Robert Dumas, this motif was first introduced as a bracelet in 1938. Over the years, this iconic buckle has graced numerous beloved Hermès products, from belts and shoes to jewellery and, now, bags. 

Chaîne d’Ancre link detail on a Hermès Roulis 23 in Gold, sold on saclab.com. Hermès Roulis 23 Tadelakt / Chevre Gold / Rouge Pivoine
Chaîne d’Ancre link detail on a Hermès Roulis 23 in Gold, sold on saclab.com

The Roulis closes by tucking in the flap under the sleek metal hardware and opens to a spacious interior divided into four compartments: two larger compartments, a thin middle sleeve, and a large flat pocket against the bag’s inner wall. The bag also features an exterior back pocket. The many compartments help separate your appurtenances so your keys don’t scratch your phone or sunglasses, and you don’t lose your small make-up items somewhere at the bottom of the abyss. 

Leathers, Colours & Hardware

The Hermès Roulis comes in an array of Hermès leathers, each with a different colour palette to cater to diverse tastes and preferences. For the regular leather enthusiast, the Roulis doesn’t disappoint. It’s typically available in Evercolor leather, which is known for its slight grain and delicate sheen. A pro of this leather is that it shows colours very vibrantly, so your green Vert Comic or Rose Azalee will definitely pop.  

Opting for something more neutral, Veau Butler, Swift, or Sombrero are all smooth leathers. While scratch-prone, small nicks can easily be buffed out. But let this be your notice if you value keeping your accessories in pristine condition. As for your colourways, Veau Butler only comes in natural colours, such as gold or natural sable, while Sombrero is typically available in noir or bordeaux. Swift offers more versatility, allowing you to choose from a wider range of preferred colours of Hermès.

Leather comparison of the Roulis 18 from Evercolor leather in Rouge Grenat, and the Roulis 18 from Swift leather in Rose Azalée, sold on saclab.com
Regular leather comparison of (1/2) the Roulis 18 from Evercolor leather in Rouge Grenat, and (3/4) the Roulis 18 from Swift leather in Rose Azalée, sold on saclab.com

Another highly sought-after leather is Barenia. This heritage leather is made from high-grade calf leather tanned in a labour-intensive process that takes up to six weeks. As this expensive leather is quite difficult to come by as a Birkin or Kelly, the Roulis allows you to sport a Hermès bag in this luxurious leather type. 

Then, for those who want to stand out a bit more, the Roulis is also crafted in exotic leather. Be it ostrich, alligator, or lizard, each lends a distinct touch to its sophisticated silhouette. For the true mavericks, the Roulis Touch offers a harmonious mix of materials. Often a contrasting combination of regular leather bodies with exotic leathered flaps, this model gives the otherwise understated Roulis a particular… touch. This mini Roulis 18 is entirely crafted from exotic leather and features an ombre lizard flap with a matte alligator body—a truly unique collectible. 

Exotic leather comparison of (1/2) the Roulis 18 from Lizard leather in Vert Menthe, and (3/4) the Roulis Touch 18 from Ombre Lizard and Matte Alligator leather in Vert Cactus, sold on saclab.com

Regarding the Hermès hardware, the Roulis is available with options in silver, gold, or permabrass. The latter is a unique blend that echoes the qualities of both gold and silver and offers a versatile finish reminiscent of Chanel’s white gold. This diverse selection allows for a refined customisation of the Roulis, ensuring that it can seamlessly complement a variety of personal styles and preferences.

Hardware comparison: (1) Palladium hardware on the Roulis 18 Evercolor in Rouge Sellier; (2) Gold-plated hardware on the Roulis 23 Clemence in Caban; (3) Permabrass hardware on the Roulis 18 Ostrich in Gris Asphalte, sold on saclab.com
Hardware comparison: (1) Palladium hardware on the Roulis 18 Evercolor in Rouge Sellier; (2) Gold-plated hardware on the Roulis 23 Clemence in Caban; (3) Permabrass hardware on the Roulis 18 Ostrich in Gris Asphalte, sold on saclab.com

Roulis Sizes 

The Roulis is available in mini 18, larger 23, and wallet sizes. The Roulis Slim Wallet features two interior credit card slots, a removable zipper coin purse, and a loop on the back exterior to attach to your belt.

The Roulis comes with an all-leather strap that has a unique adjusting mechanism. This innovative design utilises a toggle and loop system, in which the T-shaped bar at the end of the strap can be slid through the fixed metal ring at the other end of the bag. Either double the strap over the flap as a shoulder bag or run the strap through the inside of the bag, loop it through the ring and bring it back over to secure it. In this way, the Roulis allows both crossbody and shoulder carry. 

Details on a Roulis 23 from Niloticus leather in Naturel, sold on saclab.com
T-shaped bar detail on a Roulis 23 crafted from Niloticus leather in Naturel, sold on saclab.com

What does the Hermès Roulis fit? 

The structured, boxy shape of the bag isn’t too malleable and doesn’t allow for much stretch. However, the compact Roulis 18 is an ideal size for essentials such as a make-up bag or a sizeable wallet, alongside a key pouch, card sleeve, and your phone—accommodating even the larger iPhone models. If you need to fit your essentials and then some, the Roulis 23 also accommodates an extra hand sanitiser, wipes, several make-up articles, and maybe even a small water bottle.

The Roulis vs the Constance

In the realm of Hermès luxury bags, the Constance and the Roulis offer distinct appeals to collectors but are often compared for their similar designs. The Constance, with its iconic metal H clasp, stands out as a widely recognised symbol of luxury. However, for those who prefer a subtler form of elegance, the Hermès Roulis emerges as an exquisite alternative, embodying “quiet luxury.” 

A Constance 24 from Swift and Toile in Vert Jade & a Roulis 18 from Ombre Lizard and Matte Alligator in Vert Cactus, sold on saclab.com
A Constance 24 from Swift and Toile in Vert Jade & a Roulis 18 from Ombre Lizard and Matte Alligator in Vert Cactus, sold on saclab.com

Both bags share a boxy design with front flaps and metal closures, yet the Roulis distinguishes itself with a sleek hardware design that is less prone to scratches. Furthermore, the Roulis offers practical advantages over the Constance, such as easier access to belongings without the need to pull or push a buckle, a strap that is adjustable, and additional compartments for organisation.

Despite these benefits, the Roulis does not retain its value on the secondary market as well as the Constance, being somewhat less expensive both in retail and resale. A new leather Mini Roulis typically sells for between € 7K and € 10K, significantly less than the Mini Constance 18, which commands prices between € 10K and € 15K on the secondary market.

Price

While the Roulis may not be a quota bag reaching the lofty price tags of Hermès’ Holy Grail Bags, it still commands a premium, far surpassing the affordability of the Evelyne or Picotin. As such, it doesn’t qualify as an entry-level option within the Hermès collection. 

However, its exceptional design, style, and growing popularity make it a worthwhile investment, offering significant value for its cost. In some Hermès boutiques having a purchase history is not always required for the Roulis, and it is definitely more accessible compared to the elusive Birkin or Kelly. However, it still poses its own challenges in terms of availability. Exploring the secondhand market can be a savvy move, offering not just better accessibility but potentially more attractive pricing as well!

Get your hands on a Roulis or explore the vast collection of Hermès bags!


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