Thierry Hermès (24 February 1801 – 10 January 1878) was a German-French fashion designer who founded the fashion brand “Hermès”, which became a symbol of sophistication and refinement. Thierry’s life story is as captivating as the fashion empire he built, tracing his path from humble beginnings to the pinnacle of the fashion world.
Early Years (1801-1828)
Thierry Hermès was born in Krefeld, Germany, in the family of Thierry Hermès Sr. and Agnese Kuhnen. Thierry’s father was a skilled harness and saddle maker, so the young boy grew up amidst the scent of leather and the clatter of tools. The early exposure to craftsmanship and the world of equestrianism profoundly shaped his future endeavors. Both of his parents died early, so the boy moved from Germany to France to start there a new life.
Birth of Hermès brand (1837)
In 1837, at the late age of 36, Thierry Hermès founded “Hermès” brand in Paris. The initial focus was on crafting high-quality harnesses and saddles for the elite equestrian community. Thierry’s dedication to perfection and attention to detail quickly earned him a reputation for excellence. Soon, his creations became highly sought after among Parisian nobility and international clientele.
Shift to Luxury Accessories (late 19th century)
As the popularity of horse-drawn carriages waned with the rise of automobiles, Thierry Hermès recognized the need to adapt. In response, the company expanded its product line to include a wide range of luxury accessories, such as leather bags, wallets, and belts. This diversification allowed Hermès to remain relevant and thrive amidst changing times.
Kelly and Birkin Bags (20th century)
Hermès achieved monumental success during the 20th century with the introduction of two iconic handbags: Kelly Bag in the 1930s and Birkin Bag in the 1980s. Kelly Bag, originally known as the “Sac à dépêches,” became synonymous with elegance after it was spotted on the arm of actress and princess, Grace Kelly. Birkin Bag, named after the legendary British actress Jane Birkin, remains one of the most coveted and exclusive accessories in the world.
Silk Scarf and Twilly (Mid-20th Century)
Hermès expanded its product range even further with the introduction of the silk scarf in 1937. These intricately designed scarves, known for their vibrant colors and exquisite patterns, quickly became a symbol of sophistication. In the mid-20th century, the company also introduced the Twilly scarf, a versatile accessory that added a modern twist to the classic Hermès look.
Hermès logo and Hermès Orange Color
Hermès logo features a carriage with a horse, which represents the brand’s equestrian heritage and its dedication to creating high-quality leather goods.
The signature orange color used by Hermès is known as “Hermès Orange” and is a distinctive and vibrant shade of orange that sets the brand apart from others in the fashion world. The choice of this color dates back to the 1930s when Hermès introduced its first-ever collection of leather goods. Orange boxes were highly visible and easily recognizable when stacked, making them stand out in the crowd.
Legacy and Passing (1878)
Thierry Hermès passed away in 1878, leaving behind a thriving fashion house that continued to flourish under the stewardship of his family. His dedication to craftsmanship and his commitment to producing timeless pieces laid the foundation for the enduring success of Hermès. Emile Hermès’ sons-in-law, Robert Dumas-Hermès (1898-1978) and Jean-René Guerrand-Hermès (1901-1993) took over the company in 1950. Hermès is one of the few luxury brands that remain independent from large groups like LVMH and is still owned by the Hermès family.