Longest Surviving Luxury Fashion: Hermes
We have all heard about the French high fashion luxury brand-Hermès. However, the struggle and journey that the brand had to go through is a much less known story. It is one of the oldest surviving luxury fashion houses and it was nothing but a cake walk for the brand.
The brand was found by Thierry Hermès in 1837. It was first established not as a fashion house but as a harness workshop, meant to cater to the European noblemen. He continued to manage the brand for the next fifty-three years. He even won several awards for the best quality of work in his category. His son, Charles Emile took over the management in 1880 and moved the shop to where it stands today in Paris. The company then began to cater to a larger audience of Asia, America, Russia and North Africa as well. In 1900, the firm offered a Haut à Courroies bag. This was specially designed for the elite riders to carry their saddles with them.
The company was then renamed once the management shifted again to the next generation. It was now called the “Hermès Frères”. Saddles were now being sent to the Czar of Russia. The reach of the company was going worldwide and there was no stopping it. There was a first ever designed leather Golf jacket by the brand for the Prince of Wales. It had a zipper which came to be famously known as “fermeture Hermès” in France.
The Hermès Frères era was marked by two more stores opening outside of Paris. Iconic bags like the Kelly bag became popular (named after Grace Kelly) and so did the scarves. Hermès was becoming a classic possession. The company’s success continued to only grow till the 1970s.
In the 1970s, even though the brand was still popular, it faced a lot of competition in the market. The new brands started to use the new technologies, which made production fast and up-to-date. Hermès on the other hand decided to stick to the exclusive natural materials, not always very easily available. There was up to a two weeks lapse in the orders, when the workshops fell completely silent.
The brand picked itself up with the launch of its new fragrances. The popularity began to increase for the use of natural and organic products. The family business shifted into the hands of the maternal sides. Dumas was determined to turn things around for the brand. It was then that designers started to be brought in for better designs and trendy products.
Since the major set-back of the 1970s and its revamping afterwards, the brand has never looked back. The first ever ready-to-wear collection was launched under the iconic Jean Paul Gaultier in 2003. Jean was succeeded by Patrick Thomas. He was the first ever non-Hermès family member to head the firm. Thomas was then replaced by Pierre Alexis Dumas, who is currently the Creative Director of Hermes.