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History of Hermès

Pam Mullaney

In 1837 Thierry Hermès discovered a small harness workshop in the center of Paris, France. Unlike the Hermès we know today, as a harness workshop Hermès sold a selection of leather riding gear including harnesses, saddles, and bridles. All of which were primarily used by French male socialites.


As Hermès continued to develop throughout the 19th and early 20th-century several changes moved the company in a direction we are more familiar with today. For example, in 1900 the company brought out their first bag, which they called “Haut à Courroies”. The sole purpose of the bag was to hold saddles for the riders.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Thierry’s son Charles-Émile Hermès moved the company’s storefront to a more gentrified street in Paris, known as Rue Du Faubourg Saint-Honore. This change caused the company to adapt even more to relevant trends, and they began experimenting in more quality leather clothing and accessories. Not to mention, this was about the time that the infamous “Kelly Bag”, named after Actress and Princess Grace Kelly, was developed. Hermès’s success with the Kelly Bag allowed them to further expand their reach to consumers by introducing their first perfume, “Eau d’ Hermès.” 

With several leather goods, bags, and perfume under their name, Hermès decided that expanding into department stores like Neman Marcus, would help them to establish their brand in the United States, and in the early 20th century that they did. With a double carriage horse logo and bright orange boxes, their signature trademark was born.

Once they reached this pedestal of global recognition, they began partnering with several noteworthy brands and hollywood celebrities. Among those was actress Jane Birkin, sound familiar? Jane Birkin is the inspiration behind the luxurious “Birkin bag.” A bag with a price tag reflecting the 18-24 hours it takes to hand-make it. Hermès also partnered with British shoemaker John Lobb, and took partial ownership of Jean-Paul Gaultier fashion house. With such momentum, Hermès continued to differentiate in the industry by introducing new products such as jewelry and printed silk scarves.


An authentic Hermès silk scarf has exactly 27 colors. Each color is screened and printed separately and takes an estimated 750 hours to complete. Additionally, all Hermès scarves should have the artist’s signature weaved into the design. For example, at Dress we have a scarf with Philippe Dumas’s signature.

Just like Hermès bags, Hermès scarves are an investment piece, they go up in value the older they are.

Their success did not stop there. After almost 200 years, Hermès now operates 307 global locations. They have a combined net worth of over 6 billion dollars, and their commitment to handmade outstanding quality positions them as one of the most applauded and recognized luxury designers to ever exist.



Roll, Martin. “Hermès - The Strategy Insights Behind The Iconic Luxury Brand.” Martin Roll,
Martin Roll: Business and Brand Leadership, 9 Dec. 2018.

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