Hermиs International, S.A.
Hermиs International, S.A., or simply Hermиs (IPA: French [ɛʁmɛs] , typical British English [ɛːˈmɛz], American English [ɛɻˈmɛz]) is a French high fashion house specializing in leather, ready-to-wear, lifestyle accessories, and perfume luxury goods. The company is renowned in the fashion world, and its products are considered to be prestigious by virtue of workmanship, reputation, and price. It is recognized by its Duc carriage with horse logo.
Established in 1837, the saddle shop of Thierry Hermиs in Paris quickly became an international success. Hermиs continues to implement its traditional techniques into its creations. Recognized clientele of Hermиs include: Paris Hilton, Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore, Elle MacPherson, Elizabeth Hurley, and Madonna. Hermиs' competitors include Chanel, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Christian Dior.
Those outfitted by the company to some extent include: the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, John F. Kennedy, Jackie Kennedy, Sammy Davis, Ingrid Bergman, Lauren Bacall, Humphrey Bogart, Romy Schneider, Catherine Deneuve, and Grace Kelly.
Designers throughout the company's history include Lola Prusac, Jacques Delahaye, Catherine de Karolyi, Monsieur Levaillant, Nicole de Vesian, Eric Bergere, Claude Brouet, Tan Giudicelli, Marc Audibet, Veronique Nichanian and Mariot Chane.
The Hermиs family, originally Protestant Germans, settled in France in 1828. In 1837, Thierry Hermиs (1801 - 1878) first established Hermиs as a harness workshop (on the Grands Boulevards quarter of Paris) dedicated to purveying to European noblemen. His goal was to create the finest wrought harnesses and bridles for the carriage trade. Coronations were sometimes postponed for years until Hermиs could create original carriage designs, or so it is rumored. The company was earning accolades as early as 1855, winning first prize in its class at the 1855 Paris Exposition. Monsieur Hermиs won the First Class Medal of the 1867 Exposition Universelle as well.
Hermиs son, Charles-Emile Hermes (1835 - 1919), took management from his father, and, in 1880, moved the shop to a location near the Palais de l'Elysйe at 24 Rue Faubourg Saint-Honorй. It is in this location in which the new leader introduced saddlery and began retail sales. With the aid of his sons (Adolphe and Йmile-Maurice Hermиs), the company became purveyors to the elite of Europe, North Africa, Russia, Asia, and the Americas. In 1900, the company offered the haut а courroies bag specially designed so that riders could carry their saddles with them.
Hermиs Frиres era
After Charles-Emile Hermes retired from the company, his sons Adolphe and Йmile-Maurice (grandsons of the original Hermиs) took leadership and renamed the company Hermиs Frиres. Soon, Йmile-Maurice purveyed the czar of Russia saddles. By 1914, up to 80 saddle craftsmen became employed under the company. Йmile-Maurice obtained, soon afterwards, exclusive rights to the use of the zipper for leather goods and clothing: He thus became the first to introduce the device in France. The first leather golf jacket with zipper, made by Hermиs, was introduced in 1918.
Throughout the 1920s, Йmile-Maurice remained as sole head of the business and added new accessories collections. Maintaining family ties, Йmile-Maurice nurtured his three sons-in-law (Robert Dumas, Jean-Renй Guerrand and Francis Puech) into business partners. Soon, Hermиs introduced the first leather garment, a zippered golfing jacket for the Prince of Wales. After its exclusive use of the zipper, the mechanism was nicknamed fermature Hermиs. In 1922, the first leather handbags were introduced. Йmile-Maurice's wife complained of not finding a suitable one to her liking, and so her husband took over the job. Soon to follow are an array of handbags in diverse colors, sizes, and styles. In 1924, Hermиs established a presence in the United States, and opened two shops in prominent French resorts. The company had gained such great reputation by this point that it became common knowledge that visitors to France would surely stop at Hermиs. In 1929, the first women's couture apparel collection was previewed in Paris.
During the 1930s, Hermиs produced some of its most recognized original goods. In 1935, the leather Sac а dйpкches (later to be renamed as the "Kelly Bag") was introduced, and, later in 1937, the Hermиs carrй (or scarves) were introduced. Featuring a print of white-wigged ladies playing a popular period game, these custom-made accessories scarves were named Jeu des Ombinus et Dames Blanches. Hermиs oversaw the production of its scarves from beginning till end: purchasing raw Chinese silk, spinning it into yarn, and weaving it into fabric twice as strong and heavy than most scarves on market. The company's scarf designers would spent years creating new prints (individually screen-printed with vegetable dye). Each added color would be allowed a month to dry during the process of its creation before the next was applied. Designers were given the option of choosing from over 200,000 different colors, with the most complicated design featuring 40 colors. In 1937 a dedicated scarf factory was established in Lyon, France.
Following the introduction of the scarves, the accessory became integrated into French culture. The same year, Hermиs celebrated its 100th anniversairy. In 1938, the Chaоne d’ancre bracelet and the riding jacket and outfit joined the classic collection. By this point, the company's designers began to draw inspirations from paintings, books, and objets d’art. The 1930s also witnessed Hermиs' entrance into the U.S. market by offering its products in a Neiman Marcus department store in New York: However, it later withdrew. 1946 saw the launch of the Hermиs silk ties. Three years later, in 1949, the first perfume was produced, Eau d'Hermиs.
During sometime in his management, Йmile-Maurice summarized the Hermиs philosophy as “Leather, sport, and a tradition of refined elegance.”
Robert Dumas-Hermиs (1898 - 1978) succeeded Йmile-Maurice after his death in 1951, working in close collaboration with brother-in-law Jean-Renй Guerrand. Technically, Dumas became the first man not directly descended from Hermиs pиre to lead the company (he was connected to the family by marriage). Thus, he incorporated the Hermиs last name into his own, Dumas-Hermиs. The company also acquired its duc carriage with horse logo and signature orange boxes in the early 50s. Dumas created original handbags, jewelry, and accessories. He was particularly interested in design possibilities with the silk scarves. Ironically, during the mid-20th century, scarf production slackened. World Tempus states that, "Brought to life by the magic wand of Annie Beaumel, the windows of the store on Faubourg Saint-Honorй became a theatre of enchantment and a Parisian meeting-place for international celebrities." In 1956, a photo of Grace Kelly (the new Princess of Monaco) carrying the Sac а dйpкches bag appeared in Life: The company renamed it the "Kelly Bag," and became hugely popular. By the late 1950s, the Hermиs logo reaches renown status.
In the 1960s, Hermиs re-entered the U.S. market by offering its silk ties at Neiman Marcus department stores. Chrystler Fisher, a former executive at Neiman Marcus, oversaw the Hermиs American operations, tailoring to customers via a toll-free number, customers' service department, and direct mail. The perfume business is made subsidiary in 1961 concurrently with the introduction of the Calиche perfume (named after the Hermиs logo).
The falter of Hermиs and revival by Jean-Louis
In the 1970s, Hermиs opened multiple locations all over Europe, the United States, and Japan. However, despite the company's apparent success, Hermиs began to fall back throughout the 1970s in comparison to other competitors. This was duly because Hermиs aimed to use only natural materials for its products, unlike other companies that strived to produce fashions of new man-made materials. During a two-week lapse in orders, the Hermиs workrooms fell in silence. The House formed itself as a holding company in 1976 and continued expansion worldwide. Jean-Louis Dumas-Hermиs (son of Robert Dumas-Hermиs) became chairman in 1978, revamping stimulus in the areas of silk, leather, and ready-to-wear (adding new product groups to those made with its traditional techniques). Unlike his father, Jean-Louis was connected to the Hermиs maternally. The new leader of Hermиs also traveled worldwide extensively. Jean-Louis implemented his experiences as a buyer for Bloomingdale's to aid the ailing company by turning around its downhill progression. Dumas brought in designers Eric Bergйre and Bernard Sanz to revamp the apparel collection, and, in collaboration, added unusual entries. Such were the python motorcycle jackets and ostrich-skin jeans, which were dubbed as "a snazzier version of what Hermиs has been all along". Annual sales in 1978 were reported at $50 Million USD. In 1979, Hermиs launched an advertisement campaign featuring a young, denim-clad woman wearing an Hermиs scarf. The purpose was to introduce the Hermиs brand to a new set of consumers. As one observer noted, "Much of what bears the still-discreet Hermиs label changed from the object of an old person's nostalgia to the subject of young peoples' dreams." Also in the 1970s, the subsidiary La Montre Hermиs was established in Biel, Switzerland.
Throughout the 1980s, Dumas strengthened the company's hold on its suppliers. Thus, Hermиs gained great stakes in prominent French glassware, silverware, and tableware manufacturers as Puiforcat, St. Louis, and Perigord.The company celebrated its 150th anniversary in 1987 by "affirming its unique identity as a company both industrial and traditional, multi-sited and Parisian, traditional and innovative, and founded on a constant striving for excellence." By now women sporting Hermиs carried the Kelly bag, Constance clutch, brightly colored leathers, sensuous cashmeres, bold jewelry, tri-colored spectator shoes and silk ballet slippers. For men, the brand made leather jackets with sherpa lining and trim, gabardine blazers and dashing greatcoats, and richly patterned silk ties.
Hermиs becomes more successful than ever
By 1990, annual sales were reported at a profit of $460 million USD. The dramatic rise in revenue mainy attributed to Dumas' strategic, continuously successful plans. Fifty percent of sales in the early 1990s generated from Europe despite Dumas' intense program of geographical expansion. The United States contributed 11 percent, while the Asian/Pacific region made up one-third of sales. Indeed, sales skyrocketed with an estimated increase of 23 percent from 1984 to 1994. However, future profits were expected to rise only in single-digit percentages.
Tactics from the 1980s made tableware one of Hermиs' most promising business subsidiaries for the 1990s. The collection of Hermиs goods was expanded in 1990 to include over 30,000 pieces. New materials used in the collection included porcelain and crystal. The company also took to releasing two new scarf collections each year throughout the 1990s, some of which were limited designs including The Road (1994) and The Sun(1995)). Hermиs relocated its workshops and design studios to Pantin (in the outskirts of France) in a spacious modern glass building in 1992. By June 1993, Hermиs went public on the Stock exchange. The equity sale generated more excitement than the semiannual sales at Hermиs's flagship store: the 425,000 shares floated at FFr 300 (US$55) each were oversubscribed by 34 times. Dumas told Forbes magazine that the equity sale helped lessen family tensions by allowing some members to liquidate their holdings without "squabbling over share valuations among themselves." During that year, Fisher resigned from his position as head of operations for U.S. business in Hermиs and was succeeded by a sixth-generation Hermиs descendant Laurent Mommeja, who promised to double U.S. company sales by 1998. Shares were trading at FFr 600, by 1995.
To this point, the Hermиs family still kept strong hold of about 80 percent in stocks, placing Jean-Louis Dumas and the entire family on the Forbes list of billionaires. Mimi Tompkins of U.S. News & World Report called the company "one of Paris' best guarded jewels." In the next years to follow, Dumas began to decrease Hermиs franchises from 250 to 200 and increased company owned stores from 60 to 100 to better control sales of its products. The plan was to cost about FFr 200 million in the short-term, but to increase profits in the long-term. Having around FFr 500 million to invest, Hermиs continued ahead, targeting China for company-operated boutiques and finally opening a store in Beijing in 1996. Belgian modernist designer Martin Margiela was brought into the House to supervise women's ready-to-wear soon afterwards. By the late 1990s, Hermиs continued to extensively diminish the number of franchised stores, buying up those including in Marseilles, Padua, and Berlin, and opening further more company operated boutiques (among them in Las Vegas and Atlanta). Fashion eyebrows were raised in September 1999 when Hermиs paid FFr 150 million for a 35 percent stake in the Jean-Paul Gaultier fashion house. Greeted nonetheless as a positive development both for the relatively small Gaultier group and for Hermиs, it was seen as part of a consolidation in the luxury goods market. Over the late dacades of the 1900s, the company also encouraged their clientele to faites nous rкver (make us dream), creating throughout the time some of the most artistically atypical orders.
From the 2000s through today
In 2000, the Hermиs boutique on Madison Avenue opened, as well as four stores in Lisbon, Santiago, Barcelona, and Taiwan. The first John Lobb footwear store was also opened that year in New York. During this time, the company renovated its Ginza, Tokyo location and opened a branch in Moscow. In 2003, Margiela retired from Hermиs as head designer and so Jean-Paul Gaultier joined in the House (debuting his first collection for Fall/Winter 2004-05). Afterwards, Jean Claude Ellena came in as the in-House perfumer, launching the successful Hermessence line of discount fragrance items. After twenty-eight years of leadership, Jean-Louis Dumas-Hermes, the fifth generation Hermиs leader, finally retired from his family's company in January 2006. Patrick Thomas, who joined the company in 1989 and who worked with Jean-Louis as co-CEO since 2005, replaced him that month. He became the first non-Hermиs to helm the company. Thomas expressed an interest in continuing 10 percent increase in annum sales and 15 percent profit growth. Revenue for 2006 is reported at Ђ1,514,900 thousand Euros ($2,406,059.80 thousand USD). In 2007, 630 new staff members joined the company, escalating its employee count to 7,455. In 1st half of 2008 Hermиs opened a boutique In New Delhi, India. Throughout 2008, Hermиs will continue to open and renovate some 40 boutiques in the United States, Asia, and particularly China.
As of 2008, Hermиs has 14 product divisions encompassing leather, scarves, ties, menswear, women's fashion, perfume, watches, stationery, footwear, gloves, enamel, art of living, tableware, and jewelry. The use of high-quality materials and appraised hand-craftsmanship drives the price points for Hermиs merchandise well into high figures. Examples include an Hermиs scarf for $385 USD, a tie for $180 USD, and a Kelly purse for $6,900 USD. Fashion Model Directory states the Hermиs look as "the height of luxury with a nod to the house’s equestrian heritage."
Professional craftsmanship, originated from the creation of meticulous leather saddles, has been spread into every branch of product making, company-wide. General Hermиs sales are made up of around 30 percent leather goods, 15 percent clothes, and 12 percent scarves. The company has never licensed any of its products, but keeps a tight control over the design and manufacture of its vast range of goods. Every Hermиs leather bound datebook, porcelain teapot, silk waistcoat, and custom saddle is made under the company name.
The brand also offers office accessories and baby gifts.
One of Hermиs' most recognized products today remains its signature silk scarves. The modern Hermиs scarf measures 90cm2, weighs 65 grams and is woven from the silk of 250 mulberry moth cocoons. All Hermиs scarves are hand-printed using multiple silk screens and the hems are all hand-stitched. Forty-three is the highest number of screens used for one scarf to date (the charity scarf released in 2006), one screen for each color on the scarf. Scarf motives are known to range from germane (the French Revolution, French Cuisine) to the unexpected (such as the flora and fauna of Texas). However, many generally feature equestrian motifs, as well as other symbols of prestige, like coats of arms, banners, and military insignia. Two scarf collections per year are released, along with re-prints of older designs and limited editions. Since 1937, Hermиs has produced over 2,500 designs, with the horse motif ones being particularly famous and popular. Production of scarves has ranged from 250,000 in 1978, to 500,000 in 1986, to 1.2 million in 1989. During the holiday season, in the Paris locations, one scarf is sold at a rate of about 20 seconds.
The per-pound cost of a scarf today is approximately $1,965.00 USD (compared to a pound of steel at $0.19). New scarves retail at $375 USD and still account for a significant percentage of Hermиs’s turnover. Hermes also markets two collections a year of cashmere/silk blend scarves, which are priced as of Spring 2008 from $550 to $950 USD.
The company's scarves are very popular. Some find themselves even made into pillows or otherwise as framed wall-hangings. Famous lovers of the Hermиs scarf include Queen Elizabeth II (who wore one in a portrait for a British postage stamp in the 1950s), Grace Kelly (who used an Hermиs scarf as a sling for her broken arm), Audrey Hepburn, Catherine Deneuve, and Jacqueline Bouvier Onassis. More recently, Sharon Stone, Sarah Jessica Parker, Hillary Clinton, Mariah Carey, Elle McPherson, Madonna and Oprah Winfrey have all been photographed wearing the scarves. Notoriously, Stone used one for a bondage scene in the film Basic Instinct. In addition to silk scarves, men's neckties are made out of the same silks. Hermиs neckties cost between $165 and $215
USD, Partnership with the TuaregFor years Hermиs has partnered with Tuaregtribesmen on silverjewelry. The famous Saharannomads' traditional motifs are often imitated by various Hermиs products, including some of the French company's trademark scarves.
Hermиs is also highly recognized for its handmade luggage and handbag collections. Hermиs does not use assembly lines; only one craftsman may work on one handbag at a time, hand-stitching each individual piece. Due to the labour-intensive nature of Hermиs production methods and the use of rare materials (sometimes including exotic skins as well as precious metals), one bag can take 18 to 24 hours to create. The construction of each Kelly bag, for example, required 18 hours of work by a single artisan. Hermиs' leathers include those of alligator from Florida, buffalo from Pakistan, crocodile from Australia, shark from Thailand, lizard from Malaysia, and oxen, deer, calf, goat, and ostrich from all over the world. The leathers are professionally treated (dyed in every color, pattern, and texture imaginable) and handcrafted into stylish accessories in the end. When Hermиs leather goods require repair, owners are encouraged to bring the item back to any Hermиs store where it can be shipped to the factory in Paris for repair or reconditioning. Bags made popular through high-profile clientele include the "Kelly Bag", named after Grace Kelly for her many appearances with it (first introduced in the 1930s, see history), and the Constance shoulder bag (with a double strap and large H clasp) and the Trim shoulder bag preferred by Jacqueline Bouvier Onassis. Both Kelly and Constance bags remain in consistent demand and there is generally a one year waiting list for these bags.
Another famous handbag, the Birkin, was named for actress Jane Birkin, who co-designed the bag with company president Jean-Louis Dumas after complaining that her Kelly bag was not practical for everyday use. Jane Birkin has since stopped carrying her namesake bag, saying it contributed to her tendinitis. The bag remains among the most requested and has the strongest waiting list of any other luxury Hermиs good. The wait for a special order Birkin can be up to six years, based on the type of leather or skin requested. The price of a Birkin bag in general begins in the $6,000 USD range and can sometimes reach into 5-digit (e.g. $10,000), or even 6-digit (e.g. $100,000) figures. More recently, the Birkin bag has been featured in television shows such as Gilmore Girls, Sex and the City, Will & Grace, Gossip Girl and Girlfriends, as well as on the arms of well-heeled celebrities like Victoria Beckham, Coleen Rooney, Alex Curran, Kate Moss, Martha Stewart, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Oprah Winfrey; and the subject of a tell-all memoir, Bringing Home the Birkin (published by HarperCollins, 2008) by Michael Tonello.
Hermиs started its fragrance line in 1951. Over the past 57 years, the company has created several fragrances for both men and women. Women's fragrances include the newly created Kelly Calиche, Eau de Marveilles, 24 Faubourg, Calиche, Rouge Hermиs, Hiris, Parfum d'Hermes and Amazone. Men's fragrances include Terre D'Hermиs, Rocabar, Йquipage, and Bel Ami. Fragrances that are made for both men and women include: Eau d'Orange Verte, Un Jardin sur le Nil, Un Jardin en Mediterranee, Eau D'Hermиs, and seven scents in the Hermиssence series which are exclusive to Hermиs stores.
Hermes, The History Of
The French high fashion house Hermes specializes in a variety of products, including ready-to-wear clothing, leather goods and accessories and perfumes.
The Hermes Fashion House was established in Paris as a harness making shop in 1837 by Thierry Hermes (1801-1878). The line was expanded during the late 1879 by his son and successor, Charles-Emile Hermes to include the manufacture of saddles. During this period a new retail location was opened near the Palais de l'Elysee.
Following Charles-Emile's retirement, his sons Adolphe and Emile-Maurice assumed leadership of the company. They chose to rename it to Hermes Freres. By this time they were already selling saddles to customers as far abroad as Russia and Asia.
Emile-Maurice became the first man to introduce the zipper in France, and obtained exclusive rights to its use in leather clothing and accessories. In 1922 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. Hermes is known for the "Kelly Bag" which Grace Kelly made world famous in 1956. The bag, was actually manufactured much earlier in 1930. In the 1930s they added the now famous Hermes scarf to their product line, and set up a dedicated scarf factory in 1937. More new products were released over the next few years, including silk ties in 1946 and perfume in 1949.
Emile-Maurice died in 1951, to be succeeded by Robert Dumas-Hermes. Dumas was related to the family by marriage only and thus incorporated the Hermes name into his own. Robert was responsible for the introduction of the Hermes Tie, the Beach towel and the Perfumes. Hermes ties are the most coveted in the world and command prices from $160.00 to nearly $300.00 each. Today Hermes sells in excess of one million ties annually, representing 10% of their annual sales.
The 1970s brought vast international expansion, with shops opening across the United States, Japan and Europe. Despite this the company started to falter and lagged behind its competitors.
When Robert died in 1978 he was succeeded by his son Jean-Louis Dumas-Hermes. Jean-Louis is the definitive hands on Chairman. He travels the world extensively, bringing back ideas that are incorporated into every aspect of Hermes product development. During the 1990s, Hermes continued to expand their product line, venturing successfully into crystal and porcelain tableware.
By 2008 Hermes had 14 divisions providing a wide spectrum of products, including menswear, perfume, women's fashion, footwear and jewelry. The company has over 20 boutiques in the United States alone.
Hermes continues to be a revered name in the fashion world due to the meticulous craftsmanship embodied in all their products and the prestige associated with them. Hermes sales are made up of 30 % leather goods, 15 % clothes, 12 % scarves and 15% ties. Hermes clientele include such celebrities as Paris Hilton, Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore, Elle MacPherson, Elizabeth Hurley and Madonna.