Hermes: The 175-Year Old French Fashion Empire

The French fashion empire Hermes will teach every fashion brand what it takes to endure and rise above other luxury brands for more than 150 years. Deemed to be one of the world’s most valuable luxury brands, Hermes has proven to transcend the luxury brand industry, while setting new trends and immortalizing their iconic products. Hermes has become more than just a French high fashion house or a fashion brand, but owning an Hermes product has become a kind of experiential currency. It has continued to emphasize the value of hand craftsmanship and has continued to pay tribute to its rich history.

Hermes is undeniably a strong brand. It has proven its strength in the midst of declines and downfalls of global economy and the surge of other competing brands. It has continued to grow as though people will never stop saving money for this high fashion brand. More than the design, the innovation, and the creative minds behind Hermes, the brand has withstood the challenges of modern markets, the demands of the industry, and the tightening competition all because of its rich and wonderful history. Hermes has a solid and outstanding foundation that not all brands have.

4 A Little Bit Of History

The Hermes Fashion House was established in Paris as a harness making shop in 1837 by Thierry Hermes (1801-1878). Thierry Hermes started handcrafting horse harnesses for caliches and carriages in 1837. Due to this training and background, you can just imagine the power of horses and the concerns related with leatherwork. Thierry Hermes was able to craft an exceptional saddle stitch which will be later on appreciated and renowned by the European royalty.

Hermès first established the family business as a harness shop in the Grands Boulevards quarter of Paris. The shop served European noblemen, creating the finest wrought bridles and harnesses for carriages. 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 Hermes, Thierry’s son and successor. They included the manufacturing of saddles and they opened a new location near the Palais de l'Elysee.

3 The Arrival Of Handbags, Scarves, And Ties

It was only in 1922 when the company introduced its first handbags, and in 1924 they secured a foothold in the United States. 1929 saw the release of the first women's fashion apparel collection in Paris. Everyone knows about Hermes’ iconic bags, such as the “Kelly Bag” which was popularized by Grace Kelly in 1956. An interesting fact about the famous Kelly Bag was that it was already manufactured in 1930. It was also in the 1930's when Hermes produced their famous scarves, and they also opened a scarf factory in 1937. The best of their years include 1946 when they started creating silk ties, and in 1949 when they created perfumes.

Robert Dumas-Hermes succeeded the leadership of Hermes. Dumas was related to the family by marriage only but he used the Hermes name as well. He was iconic for introducing Hermes ties—the most desirable ties in the world which would cost a fortune. Today, sales from Hermes ties would account for the 10% of the brand’s total annual sales as they sell more than one million ties every year.

2 Hermes Expansion

During the 1970's, Hermes expanded their brand and started creating international shops, reaching big and rich countries such as Europe, U.S. and Japan. This was a tough time for the brand as more competitors were starting with their own innovation, paving the way for more brands to create their own names in the industry.

Jean-Louis Dumas-Hermes successes Robert and he traveled the world that gave him the best and modern ideas on how to improve and develop new products for Hermes. In the 1990's, Hermes became unstoppable—they expanded their product line. They started venturing into crystal and porcelain tableware industry.

Hermes is undeniably not the brand that will get discouraged by other new fashion houses. With its impressive history, dedicated leaders, and creative minds behind the brand, Hermes has proven that it will continue to be the world’s top fashion brand. In 2008, Hermes 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, and everything else you can think of. In the U.S. alone, Hermes has more than 20 boutiques and not every luxury brand can do this at a time where people’s spending ability is low, and at a time where luxury brands have become more aggressive in capturing the market’s attention.

A truly revered name in high fashion world, Hermes has carved its name and logo in the fashion industry. No other brand can come close with its rich history.  Hermes sales are made up of 30 % leather goods, 15 % clothes, 12 % scarves and 15% ties. Hermes clientele include the world’s biggest celebrities such as Paris Hilton, Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore, Elle MacPherson, Elizabeth Hurley and Madonna.

1 A Classic

Apart from the amazingly good products that Hermes offers, what makes Hermes a strong brand is its ability to give people the experiential currency which makes people loyal to the brand. When Hermes decided to keep their classic fonts, their logo, their packaging—they have immortalized the brand, and will forever remain an inspirational icon in the fashion world.

The Duc carriage with horse logo; Hermes’ logo will always remind the people that Hermes was once a saddle store and is now the world’s most aspired luxury brand. One thing that sets Hermes apart from their competition is that the brand has preserved the tradition of doing things the way that Thierry Hermes and their grandfathers did back when Hermes was just catering to a limited market.

Today, an Hermes iconic bag in a woman’s closet has become a signature, a status symbol that not everyone can afford to have.

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