The History of Hermès and Why it’s so Coveted Now
Before the Luxury brand we all know today, before the Birkin, the Kelly and the silk scarfs, Hermès was known for saddlery and fine equestrian leather goods. Let’s take a look into the history of the most sought out luxurious brand out there.
Let’s start at the very beginning with Thierry Hermes born in 1801 in Krefeld, Germany to a French Father and German Mother. In 1828 the family moves to Pont Audemer, north of Paris, where Thierry learns the trade of leather making and begins crafting harnesses. Thierry and his wife Petronille Pierrtant, welcome their first son a Charles-Emile Hermès into the world. in 1837. Thierry Hermès establishes the French house of Hermes; a harness workshop located in the Grands Boulevards quarter of Paris. His workshop serves the noblemen of Europe, also creating wrought iron harnesses and bridles for carriage trade. This is the start of the Hermes luxury brand we know now.
Ever wondered why Hermès iconic logo is a horse drawn carriage? It is a direct nod to the company’s roots as a leather saddlery and fine equestrian leather goods shop.
In 1880, Charles Hermès takes over his fathers workshop after his death. Charles, however, decided to move the shop to 24 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore where it is still currently located today. Charles focuses on growing the company international and starts to cater to the elite all over the world.
In the 1900s Charles and his sons design the first leather bag intended to help riders carry their saddles. They called it ‘Haut a Courroies’. Soon after this Charles retires and leaves the company to his sons Emilie Maurice and Adolphe who rename it Hermès Freres (Hermès Brothers). Emile Maurice begins to work with the czar of Russia and hires 80 craftsmen to work. As they continue to grow the company, Emilie begins experimenting with zippers. In 1914 his usage of zippers allows him to gain the rights to using zippers on leather goods and clothing. He will later on create the first leather golf jacket with a zipper in 1918 for Edward, Prince of Wales. Because of this the zipper becomes known as the ‘Fermeture Hermes’ (Hermes Fastener). However, Adolphe decides to leave the company in 1919 as his brother, Emilie, focus on other leather goods leads to a decline in sales of harnesses and equipment.
Emilie continues to play around and design leather goods launching the very first bag in 1922 for his wife. Since his wife was having a hard time finding a bag she liked Emilie took it upon himself to design her the perfect bag; a smaller version of the ‘Haut a Courroies’.
Only a few years later Hermès will launch their first women’s couture collection in 1929. This gave even more presence to the already well known Hermès brand and is truly the beginning of the brand we all recognize today. In 1935 their iconic Hermes Sac a Depeches bag would launch and be later known as the Kelly bag in 1956.
The Kelly Bag
In 1956 a photo was release of Grace Kelly, the Hollywood actress turned Monaco Princess carrying a bag. This bag was the classic Hermès Sac a Depeches, hiding her baby bump. The picture went on to make the cover of Life Magazine leading to women all over needing their hands on this bag. Women begin to swarm Hermès stores asking for the ‘Kelly Bag’ and the Hermes ‘Kelly’ was born.
The Hermes Birkin
In 1981 Jane Birkin was seated next to Hermès chief executive Jean-Louis Dumas on a flight from Paris to London. It was then when her bag accidentally spilled out. Dumas suggested she get a bag with pockets, and a conversation begun. As Birkin begin to explain her ideal bag to Dumas, she begun to sketch out a doodle explaining how she needed a bag bigger than the Kelly for travel. In 1984 the iconic Hermès Birkin would be created.
Throughout the years famous people from actors and celebrities such as Jacqueline Kennedy to Kim Kardashian have been seen flaunting Hermès. Today a Birkin can start anywhere from $10,000 to upwards of $200,000+, with the Hermès Himalayan Birkin being the most iconic Birkin out there. With a wait of up to 6 years on a Birkin it only makes sense that Hermès is the worlds most coveted brand. The Birkin has become the ‘It bag’ and is any bag collectors dream bag.
However, the bag is not only an expensive leather good, but surprisingly makes a better investment than stocks or gold. With the value of a Birkin only going up no matter what the economical state is, it comes with less risks than stocks. Only problem is getting your hands on one!