The story of Hermès has no equal. At the crossroads of luxury and art, its products, heirs to centuries-old traditions, are a heritage.
Chances of fate and talent, five generations of the same family have made the French brand the empire we know today. Since 1837, generation after generation, the house has followed a double framework, that of the meticulous work of the craftsman and that of the way of life of its customers. Driven by an undeniable spirit of freedom and creativity, the brand demonstrates constant sensitivity and attention to changes in society and its needs. The story begins in Paris in 1837, in the harness workshop opened in Paris by Thierry Hermès rue Basse-du-Rempart. From the start, he understood and anticipated the expectations of his clients, their desire for purity and lightness in a city buzzing with the movement of modernity. Its harnesses are of a discreet finesse at the same time as a resistance to any test: a technical prowess rewarded in 1867 at the Universal Exhibition of Art and Industry in Paris.
Articles adapted to society
Charles-Émile , son of Thierry Hermès, moves the workshops to 24, Faubourg Saint-Honoré and opens a store. At this now iconic address, people came to have made-to-measure harnesses and saddles made. The company is renowned for the excellence of its creations and is known throughout Europe. In the interwar period, lifestyles changed and the house innovated under the direction of Émile Hermès, son of Charles-Émile. The brand offers articles adapted to society, ranging from saddlery and harnesses to leather goods. Thanks to a very simple idea, Émile Hermès decisively changed the family business. While traveling in Canada, he was fascinated by the system for opening and closing the hood of a military car: an American « close-all ». In 1922, he obtained the exclusivity of this system, today known as the zipper, which will be widely applied to the luggage of the house.
A source of inspiration
Throughout his life, Émile Hermès fervently collected a vast collection of works, books, objects and curiosities. Constantly enriched by its successors, it continues to be an inexhaustible source of inspiration for the creations of the house. Attached to his roots, he is also passionate about his time: under his leadership, the house is opening up to new professions. In 1925 appeared the first men’s clothing, a golf jacket. To complete the silhouette, Hermès quickly offered jewelry in 1927, then watches and sandals in 1928. The creation of ties by Hermès illustrates the entrepreneurial spirit of the house. In Cannes, many gentlemen – banned from the casino for not wearing the required tie – go to the nearby Hermès store.
The Grace Kelly bag
Faced with demand, the house embarked on the production of this silk accessory which became essential to the men’s wardrobe of Hermès. Father of four daughters, Émile Hermès passes the torch to his sons-in-law. Among them, Robert Dumas, who succeeded his father-in-law at the head of the company in 1951. He was already at the origin of significant successes for the house, including the first silk square, the future Kelly bag, as well as the Chaîne d’ancre bracelet that he designed while observing boats moored in Normandy. Designed by Robert Dumas in the 1930s, this handbag saw its history change in 1956 when a photograph of Grace Kelly wearing this bag traveled around the world. It was the start of a success story, and the house named him Kelly in homage to the princess.
Hermès welcomes new professions
From 1978, Jean-Louis, son of Robert Dumas, gently revolutionized the Hermès house. Visionary, curious about everything and all cultures, he diversifies it and propels it onto the world map. Hermès welcomes new professions based on unique know-how, such as watchmaking in 1978 – which is deployed under the name La Montre Hermès. The brand thus opened up to the art of shoemaking in 1976 with bootmaker John Lobb; will follow the goldsmithery with Puiforcat in 1993 or the Saint-Louis crystal factory in 1995. Under the impetus of Jean-Louis Dumas, Hermès is expanding all over the world with the opening of many stores, each of which subtly combines the identity of the saddler and the local culture. Among these international addresses, several shops were born, in New York (United States) in 2000 on Madison Avenue, in Tokyo (Japan) in 2001 – in Ginza, in a case of glass bricks designed by Renzo Piano – then in Seoul (Korea) in 2006 at Dosan Park.
The Apple Watch Hermès
The brand also launched an e-commerce site in the United States in 2002, then in France three years later. A member of the sixth generation, Pierre-Alexis Dumas, son of Jean-Louis Dumas, is appointed artistic director of Hermès. Creativity is ever more abundant within the various professions, combining innovation and fantasy. The house is expanding the range of its know-how: alongside its jewelry offering, in 2010 it presents its first collection of fine jewelry. The following year, the world of the house offered furnishing fabrics and wallpapers for the first time. Hermès Horizons designs unique and bespoke objects, while the Apple Watch Hermès bears witness to a bold partnership with Apple from 2015. And this is how Hermès perpetuates this know-how which, already under the Ancien Régime, aroused the admiration of the whole world.
24 rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré 75008 Paris 8th
01 40 17 46 00