The house of Hermès is one of the most luxurious fashion houses, and is known fir their iconic bags and beautiful scarfs. The French Masion is also one of the very oldest and his a rich history and heritage. Founder Thierry Hermès started out with making and selling fine leather saddles in 1837 and the brand has grown to sell beautiful artisan items ever since. We lead you along all the important events, starting with the birth of Thierry Hermès.
1801 - Welcome Thierry!
Thierry Hermès was born in Krefeld, Germany. As his name might suggest, Thierry is of French ancestry. His father was a Frenchmen and his mother was born German.
1828 - On y va
The whole family went on the move to France. This is when young Thierry learns the art of leather making and starts to craft leather harnesses.
1837 - The very first boutique
Thierry opens his first store and workshop along the Grands Boulevards quarter of Paris, named Hermès. He produces harnesses, saddles and other riding supplies for the nobleman in Europe.
1855 - Bravo!
The quality that Thierry delivers is constant and he begins to gain recognition. He wins several awards for his work, including the First Class Medal of the Exposition of Paris. A few years later in 1867, he wins for the second time.
1878 - Passing on the Hermès heritage
Thierry passes away and leaves his heritage to his son, Charles-Émile Hermès, who already took over the workshop in 1859.
1880 - 24 rue Faubourg Saint-Honoré
Charles-Émile Hermès moves the workshop to a different location in Paris, 24 rue Faubourg Saint-Honoré. This is where the headquarters are still situated to this day. Charles continues with the production of the artisan saddles and also shifts the focus on to international sales. Soon enough he caters to the elite of Europe, Russia, North Africa, Asia and America.
1900 - Haut à Courroies
Charles designs the first Hermès bag in 1900. But the first design wasn't intended as a handbag, but to allow riders to carry their saddle bags with them. He designed the ingenious bag with the help of his sons, Adolphe and Émile-Maurice.
1902 - Hermès Frères
After Charles retires, his sons, Adolphe and Émile-Maurice take over the company and end up renaming it: Hermès Frères (Hermès Brothers).
1914 - Zip it up
Émile-Maurice began to provide the Czar of Russia with a great supply of saddles, shortly after renaming the company. By 1914, approximately 80 craftsmen were employed by the brothers. Due to these events, Émile gained the exclusive rights to use the zipper on leather goods and clothing. He was the first person to introduce the zipper in France. The first leather golf jacket was introduced by Hermès in 1918, especially made for the Prince of Wales. Because of the patent, the zipper became known as the fermeture Hermès.
Adolphe had already left the family business, because he didn't saw a future in the sales of saddles. So Émile continued alone. He introduced the first handbag in 1922, after his wife complained about not being able to find a bag to her liking. The bag was a smaller version of the Haut à Courroies and has the patented zipper in its design. He produced a whole line of bags during that year.
1924 - International success
Hermès receives recognition again, by going international. The fashion houses establishes itself in the United States of America and soon enough Hermès is sold at Neiman Marcus in New York.
We bet this name doesn't ring a bell, but this is the original name of the iconic Hermès Kelly bag.
Hermès introduces its famous silk scarf: the Carré. The accessory was a big hit with many celebrities such as Jackie Kennedy. Each scarf design is unique and carries its own story. After each design is drawn by hand, an Hermès artisan will create the silk scarf. The entire process of making a Carré shawl takes approximately 18 months.
During 1950's, the perfume division of Hermès is founded. But the most exciting event that took place in this decade was the introduction of the know well-known Hermès logo and the iconic orange boxes. The caléche logo is designed by the French painter Alfred de Dreux and is made up out of a carriage with horses, referring to the origin of the brand.
The boxes of Hermès weren't always orange, or as true Hermès lovers know, 'Potiron'. Hermès used to use imitation pig skin boxes in various earth tones. Due to the war, the only thing that was available was cardboard, so Hermès switched to this material. The Hermès Orange box has been used ever since.
The world went wild, when Life Magazine published a picture of the Monegasque Princess Grace Kelly, carrying the Sac à Dépêches. Women ran to the Hermès stores asking for the 'Kelly bag'. The bag was love at first sight for the former Hollywood star, but it also helped her to cover up her growing baby bump. Because the paparazzi never left her side, the bag was photographed in every magazine during that time. Hermès did rename the bag, but only in 1977. The iconic Hermès Kelly bag is still very much sought after nowadays.
Hermès is taken over by Jean Louis Dumas-Hermès, the great-great-grandson of Thierry Hermès. Jean Louis wants to concentrate on silk, leather goods and ready-to-wear by adding new product groups, but still focusing on the traditional techniques. The flagship store in Paris expands in the same year, by buying the building next to 24 rue Fauborg Saint-Honoré.
The absolute it-girl of the 80's, Jane Birkin was seated next to Jean-Louis Dumas during a flight from Paris to London. Jane told him she couldn't find the perfect sized weekend bag and described what her ideal bag would look like. A short time after her conversation with Duma , she received her personalized bag with a handwritten note and she replaced her straw handbag with the gorgeous leather bag. The Hermès Birkin bag was and still is the most wanted bag in the world.
Martin Margiela left the fashion house and the highly controversial designer Jean-Paul Gaultier made his entrance as the new head designer. He gave the classical fashion house a high fashion spin.
Jean Louis retired in 2006 and his co-CEO Patrick Thomas replaces him. Unfortunately Jean, Europe's greatest expert on luxury dies in 2010. Thomas became the first non-Hermès head to the company. Axel Dumas, sixth generation Hermès, joins the company in 2012 and still is the company's artistic director.