Fashion Designer Thierry Hermes founded his saddlery company in 1837. Gradually he added boots, jewelry, home decor items, and silk scarves. In 1920, his grandson Emile added luggage. When the first Hermes store opened in its current Paris location in the 1930s, the famous silk Hermes scarf soon became a great success. It is inspired by the scarf, which Napoleon"s soldier wore. It became a masculin accessory for the newly liberated women of the Golden "20s. All of the Hermes products are inspired by horses or horse motifs. Scarves, for both men and women, are until today their most popular product.
Women"s ready to wear used to be designed by a team under the guide of Claude Brouet (a former chief editor of the French fashion magazine Marie Claire) and five other designers. In May 1997, the highly renowned designer of Belgian origin Martin Margiela took over the women"s wear design job. He alone will be responsible for all designs. Margiela, who used to be an asistent of Jean Paul Gaultier, will continue to design for his own line, as well for the Italian Allegri fashion house. He is known for creations that reconsider established design concept, like placing seams on the outside of clothes. Margiela dislikes public attention, thus there exist hardly any pictures of him. Chairman of the company is Jean Louis Dumas (see picture), a fifth generation member of the Hermes family.
Hermes is a member of Chambre Syndicale du Pret a Porter.
The famous silken Hermes scarf for women, has now a new sister: the scented Hermes scarf. Hermes now sells a scarf, whose fabric is designed to leave a scent on the skin when wearing. The fragrance is supposed to fade not before at least five washings of the scarf.
The Hermes group is in the hands of the three families that founded the company: the Dumas, Guerrand, and Puech families. 16% of stock is in the hands of either institutional or private investors.
In 1995, total group sales were up 11.6% to $767 million. It is estimated that clothes, ties, and scarfs account for over 40% of sales. Among these the famous silk products, like ties and scarfs contribute the highest sales. 68% of sales are achieved by exports. Japan and the United States (+35%) account for the majority of growth in sales. The recent success of the company is reflected in the share price of the company: while on introduction three years ago, it was traded at 300 Francs, it now costs around 1400 Francs at the Paris stock exchange. In 1996, sales were even 6% higher at $817 million.
While watches and perfume increased sales even more, sales for ready to wear clothes rose by 20%. Net profits in 1994 were at $55 million (a rise of 39% to 1993), and for 1995 profits of $80 million (+39%) are reported. In 1996, the net profit was $89 million.
In 1995, Hermes claimed to have 145 shops around the world, of which 67 shops where owned by the company, the others operate on a franchise basis. There are also corners and duty free shops selling Hermes products.
Hermes has spent $63 million for advertising in 1995. Among others, the instruments used are classic print campaigns in magazines and an own magazine called Le Monde D"Hermes , which has qualities of a lifestyle magazine in its own right. The company also sponsors various horse racing events, most notable the Prix de Diane in Chantilly, France.
Hermes is known to invest heavily into the education of its employees. This is especially true for the refinement of the skills of the Hermes craftsmen. They are sent around the world to learn the techniques of other craftsmen from other cultures.
In the last couple of years, Hermes invested strongly into its network of shops worldwide. The recent past was also marked by several moves to expand the Hermes business portfolio. Several acquisitions of and investments in traditional French companies like Critalleries de St Louis, Lobb, Puiforcat, and the couture house Jean Louis Scherrer reflect this policy.
For Fall 2012 designers are inspired by a wide range of influences, from the elaborate details of brocade and metallic gold embellishments to the dynamic mix of military chic and power pantsuits. Colo