The fashion world loves exclusivity. For them, it’s the utmost sign and definition of luxury. The idea that a product can only be attained and afforded by a certain number of people is what has driven the luxury business all these years. It makes their items that much more desirable and expensive. Some people are willing to spend thousands of dollars to buy a bag or a piece of clothing simply because no one else will be able to. The sense of ownership of a rare and one-of-a-kind item is what makes clients go to luxury brands and but their products. Of the many luxury brands out there, no one operates as exclusively as Hermès.
Today, the word exclusive in the fashion dictionary is almost synonymous with Hermès. They’re known for their high-quality leather goods and silk scarves, but more so on the waiting lists, one has to be on to be able to buy them. Some wait for weeks and month to be listed on their prestigious clientele, and when they’re there, they have to wait another long period to be able to get their hands on Hermès products. The label and operations on exclusivity are said to be one of the pinnacles of glamour and luxury.
Hermes store in Lisbon district Bairro Alto, Portugal. Photo: Arsenie Krasnevsky
Places to Shop for Hermès
A Family Affair
The company was founded by Thierry Hermès back in 1837, starting it out as a saddlery shop. At the time, items for horse-riding and carriage accessories were considered to be luxury items, and Hermès created them perfectly. He even won several design awards throughout the 1850’s and 1860’s during the various Expositions Universelle in Paris. It’s also why the logo of the brand, to this day, is that of a horse-drawn carriage. In 1900, the company released their first bag, the Haut à Courroies, thus beginning their venture into luxury leather goods.
By the 1920’s, Thierry’s grandsons Adolphe and Émile-Maurice, have inherited the company from their father Charles-Émile, and continued to expand the business. They added clothing and accessories to the brand, solidifying its status as a fashion luxury label. In 1922, they officially launched their leather handbags line. Around the same time, they also debuted their scarf collection, which to this day, are some of their best-selling items.
In 1929, they launched their first women’s haute couture collection with a show in their Paris salons. Although by the 1970’s, the brand started to decline, especially since Adolphe and Émile-Maurice were no longer leading the brand. As a result, they opened their ready-to-wear line, focused primarily on scarves and leather goods, and brought in designers such as Martin Margiela and Jean-Paul Gaultier to be their creative directors. Their refocus to high fashion helped them revamp their image and rise again as one of the prominent luxury brands in the world.
Birkin and Kelly
Some of the items on the brand’s roster are some of the most iconic pieces of clothing and leather goods. They’re mentioned in TV and film, worn by A-list celebrities and other prominent figures, and have earned a reputation for being difficult to buy. One of them is most definitely the Birkin bag. This particular item is practically the star of the label and is one of the most talked about luxury items both in and beyond the fashion industry. It’s named after American-French actress and style icon Jane Birkin after former Hermès executive Jean-Louis Dumas saw that she was having a hard time containing her items in her bag. He helped design the Birkin bag which has a solid base and is light to carry. The bag is infamous for its waiting list, where one could wait for weeks, months, or even years to be able to purchase a Birkin bag.
Another bag with similar prestige is the Kelly bag, named after screen icon-turned-princess Grace Kelly. It’s a trapezium with two straps and fastened with a golden padlock. The bag was initially a saddle accessory borne out of the 1890’s. It was in the 1950’s when Grace Kelly had one in her film “To Catch A Thief” that the item became known. She was them photographed many times with the bag, eventually becoming its namesake. Like the Birkin, it has also become somewhat of a status symbol.
Apart from the leather luxury goods, there’s also the scarves. The French label is known for their silk accessories and offers some of the best quality scarves in the industry. Although they’re not as exclusive and revered as the leather goods, their quality and softness are what give them their prestige among the elite and the fashion industry.
Iconic pieces worn by iconic people
Victoria Beckham carrying an Hermes Kelly bag with her Husband David Beckham at LAX Airport, Los Angeles in 2007. Photo: Everett Collection
Since the 20th century, Hermès has amassed a clientele of prominent figures and iconic celebrities. Their scarves, in particular, are worn by some of the most famous people in the world, including Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Grace of Monaco, Audrey Hepburn, and Jacqueline Kennedy-Onassis. Because of it’s such a status symbol, the Birkin bag has also been spotted with a lot of A-list actresses such as Catherine Deneuve, Eva Longoria, and Julianne Moore, as well as pop stars Jennifer Lopez and Beyoncé. Additionally, other celebrities like top model Miranda Kerr and TV hostess Kelly Osbourne have been seen with a Kelly bag.
When it comes to luxury, no one can’t forget Hermès. More than their quality pieces, their business operations founded on exclusivity is what makes them one of the most wanted, demanded, and best-selling labels today.
Hermes Boutique in Monte Carlo, Monaco. Photo: Birute Vijeikiene