Hermes has proven to transcend the luxury brand industry, while setting new trends and immortalizing their iconic products. It has continued to emphasize the value of hand craftsmanship and has continued to pay tribute to its own history. 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 history that surpasses any other brand in the luxury market.
The Hermes Fashion House was established in Paris as a harness making shop in 1837 by Thierry Hermes (1801-1878). Hermès first established the family business as a harness shop in the Grands Boulevards quarter of Paris. The shop served European noblemen, creating 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. The expansion included the manufacturing of saddles and they opened a new location near the Palais de l’Elysee.
It was in 1922 when the company introduced its first handbags. In 1937, Hermes opened its scarf (or carre) factory in Lyon. Robert Dumas-Hermes succeeded the leadership of Hermes in the 1950s and was iconic for introducing ties— still the most desirable ties in the world. Additionally, the duc-carriage-with-horse logo, bolduc (the famous ribbon!) and signature orange boxes were introduced in 1961. The horse-and-carriage logo was inspired by the art of Alfred de Dreux.
Jean-Louis Dumas, the son of Robert Dumas, became chairman in 1978 and lead until 2006. During Jean-Louis’ reign, he expanded the fashion house into the home wares, further expanded the efforts in silks, leather goods, and perfumes. Dumas helped change the image of bags to accommodate a younger, more modern consumer and increased the growth of Hermes. Despite a brief (failed) attempt at public ownership in the 1990s, the Hermes family is still a majority shareholder in the company.
The Hermes’ family and company rejects mass production, assembly lines, and mechanization. The vast majority of products are manufactured at production sites in France. Bags, luggage and small leather goods are produced by professional artisans at approximately 12 French middle-sized leather goods manufacturing facilities (“Ateliers Hermes”), with a strong emphasis on quality manufacturing. Hermes has claimed that most items are created from start to finish by one craftsman, which is supposed to be a guarantee of the quality and uniqueness of Hermes products.
As of 2008, Hermes has 14 product divisions encompassing leather, scarves, ties, men’s wear, women’s fashion, perfume, watches, stationery, footwear, gloves, enamel, decorative arts, tableware, and jewelry. Today, Jean-Louis’s son Pierre-Alexis Dumas is the artistic director of Hermes. Under his direction, the brand has seen its biggest growth in decades.
The Ultimate Dream Bag: Hermes Birkin History
The Birkin stands alone as the most sought after, impossible to find, and collectible bag ever made. This exquisite bag is typically only seen on the arms of the fortunate few. Even celebrities find themselves on the infamous Hermes Birkin wait lists with the hope of one day owning this ultra-exclusive bag. The Hermes Birkin was created jointly between Hermes CEO Jean-Louis Dumas and the actress Jane Birkin for whom the bag is named after, who complained that her Kelly bag was not very practical. Jane Birkin was gifted the first Birkin bag in 1984, and the rest is history.
Unlike other handbags, a single highly skilled craftsman works on one Birkin at a time with the construction of each Birkin bag consuming a whopping 18 hours. The bags are handmade in France by expert artisans using the company’s signature saddle stitching, developed in the 1800s. Birkin bags are investment quality luxury items meaning that they either hold or increase their value of time. The Birkin is a true timeless masterpiece that will become the crown jewel of your bag collection!
Birkin prices range from $10,500 to $150,000. Due to the fact that each bag is handmade, prices vary according to the type of leather and hardware. The bags are distributed to Hermes boutiques in limited very quantities, creating scarcity and exclusivity. To purchase a Birkin through an Hermes boutique, Hermes customers join a waitlist for a custom Birkin after establishing a rapport and sales history with a Sales Associate. This waitlist can often mean customers wait for years to get the bag in the specific color and leather that they want. Unless you’re at the the famed Rue St. Honore Hermes boutique in France, which occasionally has seasonal Birkin bags in stock. This reason is part of many reasons why many people chose to purchase pre-loved authentic Hermes Birkin’s from Yoogi’s Closet.
Birkins come in sizes 25cm, 30cm, 35cm, 40cm and 45cm.
Birkin Bag Size Reference:
25cm: 10″ L x 5″ W x 8″H
30cm: 12″ L x 6.25″ W x 9″ H
35cm: 14″ L x 7.5″ W x 10.75″ H
40cm: 16″ L x 8″ W x 11.25″ H
The Birkin has a very distinct design, two rolled leather handles, a flap closure with two belted straps and a center turnlock and that holds a padlock. The bag is locked by closing the top flaps over buckle loops, wrapping the buckle draw-straps, then closing the lock on the front hardware. Many Birkin carriers also tuck the flap inside of the bag and continue to buckle the draw-straps with the lock in front, to show off the prized “Hermes Made in France” stamping. The keys are enclosed in a leather key holder known as a clochette.
The 45 is a travel Birkin with slightly longer straps. There is also a similar bag called a Haut au Courries (abbreviated as HAC – which means High Belts in French) that is slightly taller with shorter straps. These come in sizes 27, 32 and, 37. Additionally, there is a JPG version designed by Jean Paul Gaultier, which is considered the “shoulder Birkin.”
Hermes Kelly History
The Kelly is a coveted and scarce bag. Like its muse, Grace Kelly, this bag is the definition of timeless elegance. The original prototype for this bag dates back to 1892 when Hermes developed a large bag to hold a saddle; the prototype was modified over the decades but the Kelly sold by Hermes today is similar to the Sac a Depeches introduced in the 1930s. In 1954, Grace Kelly was given the bag to use in the Hitchcock movie “To Catch A Thief”. She wore it regularly after her marriage to Prince Rainier of Monaco – it was dubbed the Kelly bag. It was officially called the Kelly in 1977.
Unlike other handbags, a single craftsman works on one bag at a time with the construction of each Kelly bag consuming a whopping 18 hours. Kelly bags have the same draw-strap and lock mechanism as a Birkin bag, but have a single leather top handle. Hermes introduced shoulder straps as standard equipment in the 1980’s. Prior to that, Hermes would special order a strap. In 2000, the double loop metal strap holder was added. Kelly bags are investment, quality luxury items meaning that they either hold or increase their value of time.
Kelly bags come in sizes 20cm, 25cm, 28cm, 32cm, and 35cm.
Kelly Bag Size Reference:
20cm: 8″ L x 3.5″ W x 6″H
25cm: 10”L x 3.5”W x 7.5” H
28cm: 11″ L x 4.5″ W x 8″ H
32cm: 12.5″ L x 5″ W x 9.5″ H
35cm: 13.75″ L x 5″ W x 10.25″ H
Kelly Sellier vs. Retourne
There are two styles of the Kelly bag.
Has a more structured shape with rigid corners and exterior stitching with no visible piping. The result is a stiffer, sharp edge shape. Occasionally referred to as “Rigide”.
Has a more relaxed shape. During the manufacturing process the bag is turned inside out. The result is a softer look with rounded edges and visible piping. The stitching on a Retourne is on the inside. This means that Retourne styles have a tendency to sloud. Occasionally referred to a “Souple”.
Other Popular Hermes Bags
The Bolide bag dates back in 1923 when Emile-Maurice Hermes created this handbag for his wife, which was the first ever handbag to use a zipper. There are two versions of the Bolide bag – the Web Bolide and the Bolide. The Web Bolide has an external pocket, no oval patch, and a two-way zip closure. The Bolide has a single zip closure, an oval patch, and a long strap. Both bags have a domed zip around closure and dual tubular top handles. It comes in four sizes, 27cm, 31cm, 35cm and 45cm.
The Evelyne bag features a rounded rectangular shape with the iconic perforated H with a circle on the front. The Evelyne bag came in four sizes – TPM, PM, GM and TGM.
There are 3 generations of the Evelyne:
Evelyne I (1st gen) has no external pocket and a non-adjustable strap
Evelyne II (2nd Gen) has an external pocket and a non-adjustable strap
Evelyne III (3rd gen) has an external pocket and an adjustable canvas strap
Hermes Garden Party
The Garden Party is a classic tote with tubular handles, a flat base, and expandable snap sides. They are typically made out of all leather (Negonda or Buffalo), or a mixture of canvas and leather. The interior is typically lined with linen and has a sturdy leather base to maintain structure. The Garden Party comes in three sizes – TPM, MM, GM.
The Constance bag was created way back in 1959. The Constance bag was designed by Catherine Chaillet, and named it after her fifth child. The first Constance left the Hermes shop the exact same day she delivered the baby, so the story goes. The elegant shoulder bag has a long strap that can be doubled for a shorter length and a signature “H” clasp.
This bucket style bag has a natural raw hide interior lining and a silver palladium clochette adorned on the front of the bag. It has a roomy interior which is perfect for everyday use. The bag has a leather tab closure. The Hermes Picotin Lock Bag is available in four sizes, PM, MM, GM and TGM.
The Lindy first appeared in the Spring/Summer 2007 Runway Collection. The Linday can be carried by hand with its two tubular top handles or over the shoulder with its attached shoulder strap. It features two separate sides, each having its own zipper pulls which can be locked in the center with a classic Hermes twisting lock. The Lindy is available in four sizes: 26cm, 30cm, 34cm and 45cm.
Hermes Collier de Chien
The Collier de Chien motif is one of the most iconic accessories by Hermes. In French, the Collier de Chien actually means “dog collar”. This Hermes design was specifically made for a client’s bulldog. It is believed that the Collier de chien belt was first introduced in 1927 and the bracelet follow with an introduction into retail in the 1940s. The design is distinct – it has eight rounded spikes and a single ring. Bracelets and belts are designed in a variety of hardware types, colors and leathers.
Hermes uses a variety of high quality metals, but most items are typically crafted of brass. Hermes item most commonly use 18k gold plated or palladium plated brass. Permabrass, ruthenium, guilloche (diamond cut pattern palladium), rose gold, or diamond crusted hardware are occasionally used.