Hermès: A History

We take a look back through almost 180 years as a saddlery grew into one of the world’s most iconic labels.


In 1837, Thierry Hermès sets up a harness and saddlery workshop, settling in 1880 at what is still their flagship location: 24 Faubourg Saint-Honoré.


Under the name Hermès Frères, in the early 1900’s, the company began to branch out, introducing the Haut à Courroies bag (which was originally intended to carry saddles) and “saddle stitched” leather goods—bags, luggage, sport and driving accessories. And a little-known fact: Émile-Maurice obtained exclusive rights to introduce the “American fastener,” or zipper, in France, which he applied to one of Hermes’ first leather handbags in 1922.


During the 100th anniversary, in 1937, the first scarf was created, inspired by the silk that had been used for making jockeys’ colors.


The Petit Sac à courroie pour dame, created in 1935, is renamed the Kelly after Grace Kelly famously carries it to hide her pregnancy.


In the 1980’s, Jane Birkin runs into Hermès president Jean-Louis Dumas on an airplane, complains about the purse she was carrying, and her six-year-waitlist eponymous bag was born.


Martin Margiela joins as women’s ready-to-wear designer in 1998.


Jean-Paul Gaultier takes over from Margiela in 2003.


Christophe Lemaire is appointed women’s Ready-to-Wear director in 2010.


Hermès’s New Denis Montel-designed rue de Sevres, Paris location opens in 2010.


The Jean-Michel Frank par Hermès for the Maison Collection launches in 2011.