Hermès is the oldest luxury fashion house that is deeply ingrained in the minds of snobs who only patronize high-class fashion and style. Hermès started as a harness making business in 1837 by Thierry Hermès who would make bridles and harness for the horse riders. He would cater to the European aristocrats who were into horse riding.
The business of Thierry Hermès flourished and his son took over the business in 1880 after his demise. He rolled out saddlery products in 1880 and sold them from retail stores of Hermès. The beginning of twentieth century brought the business into widespread popularity as it introduced new products for horse riders and diversified into apparel business. From then on, the company has grown by leaps and bounds and became one of the world’s most valuable brands.
In our feature of brand profile, we will take you through the long business journey of Hermès and how it became one of the most valuable luxury fashion houses:
1837: Hermès Arrives as a Harness Making Business
1837 was the year when Thierry Hermès launched Hermès as a harness making business in Paris. It soon became a renowned harness shop that made harness and bridles from the finest wrought iron. Hermès became a household name in the circles of European noblemen who would hire Hermès for making the harness of their horses. It was a genesis of a business that would dominate the luxury fashion industry with its superior-quality products using its logo, monograms and embroidered patches.
1855: Hermès Wins First Class Medal of the Exposition of Paris
1855 proved a momentous year for Hermès as it won First Class Medal of the Exposition of Paris for its high-quality wrought iron that it used in its bridles and harnesses. The award was significant in cementing status of Hermès as an authoritative manufacturer in harness making business.
1880: Hermès Introduces Saddlery Products in Its Retail Stores
In 1878, the founder of Hermès Thierry Hermès passed away and his son Charles-Émile became the new boss of Hermès. He moved the store to 24 rue de Faubourg Saint-Honoré which is still in operations. Under his leadership, the company opened retail stores in Europe, Americas, Russia, Asia and North Africa where it sold its harness and saddlery products which attracted the elites of Europe.
1900: Haut À Courroies Bag Hits the Market
In 1900, Hermès introduced the Haut à Courroies bag which became famous for its iconic trapezoid design. The bag was designed to give riders a carrier to put all their accessories while they are riding. It was big enough to contain the saddles and became a common sight among the riders in Europe. The creation of this bag was a watershed for Hermès as it paved way for the future high-fashion bags of the ladies.
1914: Hermès Serves the Russian Monarchy
Hermès celebrated the year 1914 as the year when it got contract for manufacturing saddles for Tsar Nicholas II of Russia. To serve the monarchy, it employed 80 saddle craftsmen who honed their workmanship to design the finest saddlery products.
It led the company to secure exclusive rights for using zipper in its leather and clothing products and Hermès became the first French company to produce apparels and leather products using the zipper.
1918-1950: The Launch of First Leather Golf Jacket with a Zipper and Inclusion of Clothing Accessories
The period between 1918 and 1950 was significant in history of Hermès as it added many new items in its product line. Firstly, it introduced the first leather golf jacket with a zipper which became synonymous with Hermès. The jacket was designed for the Prince of Wales known popularly as King Edward VIII.
The success of golf jacket prompted the company to include clothing accessories in its products. Hermès introduced the first leather handbag in 1922. The launch of first leather handbag was followed by opening of two stores in New York in 1924.
1925 saw the introduction of travel bags which became a rage soon after their arrival. 1930s marked two breakthrough products of Hermès. One is the iconic Sac a depeches bag which was later renamed to Kelly Bag after the name of actress Grace Kelly, while the second is Hermès carrés which was a silk scarf.
These two products are still the most iconic products by Hermès and are the best-selling products of the brand. The end of 1940s brought two more major products: Hermès silk tie and Eau d’Hermès, the first fragrance of the company. By 1950s, Hermès was making clothing and fashion accessories that were loved by both celebrities and public at large.
1950s: Iconic Orange Boxes and the Duc Carriage Logo Was Introduced
Riding on the success wheel, Hermès did some rebranding in its products to match the changing face of its business. Firstly, it redesigned its logo and introduced the iconic Duc carriage with a horse. It was based on a drawing by French painter Alfred de Dreux. It was the same period when it started using its iconic orange boxes. These changes were aimed to give a new personality to the brand and it did work for the company.
1980s: Hermès Launches the Iconic Birkin Bag in 1980s
1980s was the time when Hermès launched its most iconic bag: The Birkin Bag. The bag was named after the English actress Jane Birkin who met with CEO of Hermès Jean-Louis Dumas on a flight. She had a word with Dumas and complained him of the poor design of her bag.
Affected by the grievances of the actress, Jean-Louis Dumas came up with a design that was more fitting for the ladies and they can put their important stuff in it. It was called a Birkin bag. The bag was made from supple leather and was big enough to keep paraphernalia of the ladies.
Today, Birkin Bag is one of the best-selling handbags in the world. It is a highly exclusive bag that Hermès makes in a limited quantity. The bag is sold in secondary market by retailers who use custom embroidered patches and logos of Hermès to sell to their clients.
This is a brief history of Hermès and gives an overview of its brand profile. Today, Hermès is a billion-dollar business with a brand value of $25.9. It has more than 300 stores worldwide which sells the highly luxurious products to celebrities, fashionistas and public at large.