The Story of Hermès

If there’s one fashion house that gives other luxury brands a lesson or two on how to stand ground for centuries together, it’s French fashion house Hermès (pronounced ar-mez). Considered one of the world’s most valuable luxury brands – no seriously, it’s counted as a financial asset – it’s been around for more than 150 years now, and has a long, rich line of iconic products that are still coveted today – more than ever. Who doesn’t want to own an Hermès silk scarf? Or a classic Kelly bag? 

 Thierry Hermès

Thierry Hermès

First established in Paris as a harness-making shop for caliches and carriages in 1837 by Thierry Hermès in 1837, the house had humble beginnings, but his expertise and knowledge of leather-work is what’s reflected in the brand’s craftsmanship even today. Thierry Hermès was able to craft an exceptional saddle stitch which would later be appreciated and renowned by the European royalty. His clients were the stylish Parisian beau monde and European royalty including Napoléon III and his empress, Eugénie.

It was in late 1879 when the line was expanded by Charles-Emile Hermès, Thierry’s son and successor. They included the manufacturing of saddles and they opened a new location near the Palais de l’Elysee.

The classic handbags though, only came around in 1922 when the company secured a foothold in the United States, and 1929 saw the release of the first women’s fashion apparel collection in Paris.

It was in the 1930’s when Hermes produced their famous scarves – a huge hit even today. Soon, they began creating silk ties and perfumes – some of the best years in the brand’s history. 

If you’re wondering about the famous Kelly bag – popularized by Grace Kelly in 1956, and one of the most iconic ones from Hermès, it’s interesting to note that it was already manufactured in 1930. It was also in the 1930s when Hermès produced their famous scarves, complete with the launch of a scarf factory in 1937.

 Grace Kelly with the Kelly bag

Grace Kelly with the Kelly bag

The company then took over the rest of the world in the 1970’s, expanding the brand and setting shop internationally, in countries such as Europe, U.S. and Japan. Competitors spruced up everywhere, taking off from the brand that paved the way for more brands to create their own names in the industry – a solid example of how Hermès has always been a trailblazer. 

 Jean-Louis Dumas-Hermes

Jean-Louis Dumas-Hermes

Jean-Louis Dumas-Hermes, the next successor, traveled the world for ideas inspired by the modern world, and by the 1990’s, Hermès became unstoppable — they ventured into crystal and porcelain tableware industry as well.

In 2008, the company already had 14 divisions catering and selling a wide selection of products: perfume, jewelry, menswear, footwear, clothing, leather, luxury goods, ready-to-wear, scarves, ties. In the U.S. alone, Hermès has more than 20 boutiques and is still a big player in the luxury market.

With its impressive history, dedicated leaders, and ever evolving creativity, it doesn’t look like one of the world’s favourite luxury brands – undeniably – is going anywhere. The iconic Duc carriage with the horse logo only lives on to remind people that a once saddle store is now the world’s most aspired luxury brand.