Hermès has a rich heritage spanning nearly two centuries. Originally founded in 1837 as a harness workshop, Hermès began creating leather saddles, harnesses, and equestrian accessories. In the early 1900s, Hermès transitioned into a luxury retail brand, opening stores globally and expanding into leather goods, accessories, fragrances and apparel that embodied refined French style.
Today, Hermès is most famous for its meticulously crafted leather handbags. The house's signature Birkin bag is one of the most coveted accessories in the world. First created in 1984 after a chance encounter between actress Jane Birkin and Hermès CEO Jean-Louis Dumas on an airplane, the design is handmade by a single artisan, taking nearly two days to complete. Everything from the precision stitching to the signature lock and key is done completely by hand. The bags are made from the finest leathers like Togo, Epsom calfskin, and Swift lambskin, and they come in a variety of sizes. Customers can special order a Birkin in different leather and hardware colors, making each bag unique. Prices start around $10,000 but can reach over $200,000 for exotic skins. The extreme exclusivity and scarcity have turned the Birkin into a true status symbol.
Another iconic Hermès bag is the Kelly, named for Grace Kelly after she used it to conceal her pregnancy from the paparazzi in 1956. Similar to the Birkin, the Kelly is handcrafted from fine leathers into a structured top handle style finished with a signature twist lock closure. Hermès is very selective about who can purchase one of their coveted bags. Building a relationship with a sales associate at one of their boutiques is key to getting offered a Birkin or Kelly. Their elusiveness adds to the aura of exclusivity around Hermès.
In addition to leather goods, Hermès is known for its iconic silk scarves and ties, which have been woven in Lyon, France since 1937. The house's famous Faubourg, Brides de Gala, and other scarf designs represent the craftsmanship and creativity that Hermès embodies.
Hermès has also enjoyed tremendous popularity and status as a celebrity favorite. From Grace Kelly and Jane Birkin to more modern fans like Victoria Beckham, Beyonce, Kim Kardashian, the brand has an undeniable aura of luxury and prestige. Carrying a Birkin or wearing Hermès scarves project an image of style, elegance, and wealth. As Hermès approaches its 200th anniversary, the house remains committed to upholding its legacy of peerless craftsmanship and creating enduring pieces that represent the pinnacle of luxury.