Hermès (pronounced [?:?m?z]) is a leather goods, fashion, and perfume company based in Paris. It is widely regarded as among the most prestigious and exclusive fashion houses in the world and is known for its famous ‘H’ logo.
Founded in 1837 by Thierry Hermès as a saddlery company, the business has remained mostly in the control of the Hermès family for almost two hundred years. Today, the house of Hermès produces ready-to-wear fashion, home decor, jewellery, luggage, and fragrances as well as saddles.
Emile-Maurice Hermès, Thierry’s successor, shifted the focus of the company at the turn of the 20th century away from the horse and towards plane, car, and train travel. Hermès manufactured trunks, bags, overnight cases, from its signature saddle leather. Emile also purchased the building at Rue Faubourg St.-Honoré 24 in Paris, which still houses the flagship store as well as the workshops.
Robert Dumas, the husband of one of Emile’s four daughters, introduced Hermès ties, fragrances, and beach towels. His son, Jean-Louis Dumas-Hermès, was the fifth Chairman of Hermès, and led the company from 1978 until January 2006, when he retired. Patrick Thomas, his successor, joined the company in 1989 and is the current CEO.
By 2007, Hermes had these boutiques in the United States. New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Westport, CT, Manhasset, Bal Harbour, Palm Beach, Naples, FL, Dallas, Houston, Troy, MI, Cleveland, OH, Palo Alto, CA, and Honolulu at Ala Moana Shopping Center and Waikiki.
One of Hermès’ most recognized products is the silk scarf. The first silk scarf square in the Hermès collection was produced in 1928, and in 1937 a dedicated scarf factory was established in Lyon. The modern Hermès scarf measures 90cm square, weighs 65 grams and is woven from the silk of 250 mulberry moth cocoons. The per-pound cost of a scarf today is approximately $1,965.00 (compared to a pound of steel at $0.19).
All Hermès scarves are hand-printed using multiple silk screens (43 is the highest number of screens used for one scarf to date, the charity scarf released in 2006, one for each color on the scarf) and the hems are all hand-stitched. Two scarf collections per year are released, along with re-prints of older designs and limited editions. Since 1937, Hermès has produced over 25,000 designs.
The Brides De Gala scarf, first introduced in the 1970s, has been sold over 70,000 times. A Hermès scarf is sold somewhere in the world every 25 seconds, global volume sales peaking in the late 1980s at over 1.1 million scarves. There has been some suggestion that the hijab controversy has dampened sales of women’s headscarves, with Hermès volumes suffering as a result. New scarves retail at $325 and still account for a significant percentage of Hermès’ turnover.
Famous lovers of the Hermès scarf included Queen Elizabeth II (who wore one in a portrait for a British postage stamp in the 1950s), Grace Kelly (who used an Hermès 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, and Madonna have all been photographed wearing the scarves. Notoriously, Stone used one for bondage in the film Basic Instinct.
In addition to fine silk scarve
s, men’s neckties are made out of the same silks and with the same care. Famous wearers include US Senator John Kerry. Hermès neckties cost between US$155 and $215, though the calfskin version will cost around US$600.
Though Hermès is most renowned for its saddlery, their handbag and luggage collections are widely known as coveted pieces of handmade leather craftmanship. Hermès does not use assembly lines, rather, only one artist may work on one handbag at a time. Because of the use of rare materials (sometimes including exotic skins such as alligator, crocodile, ostrich and lizard as well as precious metals) and because only the highest quality craftmanship is accepted, one bag can take 18 to 24 hours to create.
The Kelly bag was first produced in the 1930’s and later nicknamed for Grace Kelly, who made it famous after appearing in the pages of Life in 1956 carrying the bag. Jacqueline Bouvier Onassis, another Hermès aficionado, preferred the Constance shoulder bag (with a double strap and large H clasp) or the Trim shoulder bag.
Perhaps the most famous handbag, the Birkin, was named for actress Jane Birkin, who co-designed the bag with president Jean-Louis Dumas after complaining that her Kelly was not practical for everyday use. Jane Birkin has since given up carrying her namesake bag, saying it contributed to her tendonitis. 
More recently, the Birkin bag has been featured in television shows such as Sex and the City, Will & Grace and Girlfriends as well as on the arms of well-heeled celebrities like Martha Stewart, Jada Pinkett Smith, Victoria Beckham, and Lindsay Lohan. Generally, the price of Birkin bags start in the $6,000 range and easily make their way into 5-digit, sometimes 6-digit figures.
The wait for a special order Birkin can be up to six years, based on the type of leather or skin requested.
When Hermès leather goods require repair, owners are encouraged to bring the item back to any Hermès store where it can be shipped to the factory in Paris for repair or reconditioning.
Hermès started their fragrance line in 1951. Over the past fifty-six years they have created several fragrances for both men and women. Their women’s fragrances include the newly created Kelly Calèche, Eau de Marveilles, 24 Faubourg, Calèche, Rouge Hermès, Hiris, and Amazone. Their men’s fragrances include: Terre D’Hermès, Rocabar, Equipage, and the discontinued Bel Ami. Their fragrances that are for men or women are: Eau d’Orange Verte, Un Jardin sur le Nil, Un Jardin en Mediterranee, and Eau D’Hermès.
Partnership with the Tuareg
For years Hermès has partnered with Tuareg tribesmen on silver jewelry. The famous Saharan nomads’ traditional motifs are often imitated by various Hermès products including some of the French company’s trademark scarves.
71 percent of Hermès shares (free-float) have been traded on the Paris Bourse since 1993, while the remaining 29 percent are held by the family. The current CEO is Patrick Thomas, who replaced Jean-Louis Dumas-Hermès in January 2006. He has been with the company since 1989. Today, leather goods make up 30 percent of the business, clothes 15 percent, and scarves 12 percent.
The company acquired ownership of shoemaker John Lobb in 1976 and sell ready-to-wear shoes under this brand; however, the bespoke shoemaker’s original shop in London remains under the control of the Lobb family. Hermès also has a 35% stake of Jean-Paul Gaultier company.
*source credit: wikipedia