Hermès: The historic atelier and its trinity

The renowned French brand Hermès is one of the pioneers when it comes to fashion and style. It is undoubtedly one of the most acclaimed luxury brands of recent times, and the reason for its success lies behind its history and tradition, both linked to craftsmanship and the importance of manual work to make accessories, which more than just bags, are considered masterpieces.

Hand in hand with its iconic bag trinity, Hermès rises in the innovation landscape and works leather like no other luxury brand, with centuries old techniques that have been recognized worldwide.

Today we want to show you the secrets behind the relevance of the French atelier Hermès, its techniques and the three bags that have launched this fashion house of high luxury and exclusivity.

  1. Origins of the French atelier Hermès
  2. Centuries old crafting techniques
  3. Innovation in luxury accessories

Origins of the French atelier Hermès

The story begins in 1837, on the street Basee-du-Rempart in Paris, a young craftsman named Thierry Hermès decided to open his first workshop to make saddles and riding implements, using very detailed sewing techniques, recognized for keeping the leather structure intact for decades.

Thierry’s success grew rapidly, thanks to his techniques, quality materials, and simple, lightweight designs. Hermès soon passed his knowledge down to his son, who took it upon himself to grow his father’s workshop to attract even more customers and global recognition.

Throughout the subsequent years, Thierry’s son cultivated the gift and extended the creativity to design to his son and grandson, successively he did it with his sons-in-law, resulting in an unmatched family business, with six generations of craftsmen who perpetuated the sewing techniques of Thierry, until they perfected them and turned them into a centuries-old method, responsible for the success of the Hermès name.

Over time, members of the Hermès – Dumas family expanded the market for their brand to include leather accessories, men’s and women’s clothing, and their acclaimed bags. In this way, a family that perpetuated its gift was able to become the fashion giant that it is today, a brand of luxury and status.

If you want to know more about the history of Hermès and its periods, check out this timeline.

Centuries old crafting technique

One of the most important bases of Hermès is its use of the crafts like a unique expertise, with which the craftsmen are able to make all types of leather accessories, using materials like crocodile, ostrich and calf sinks.

In addition to its iconic types of leathers, the Hermès brand trains its craftsmen during some years, and it only accepts the ones that demonstrate a superior talent to make the famous bags of the fashion house. This involves learning countless specific techniques dating back to the years of Thierry Hermès, the first craftsman.

Among the techniques, the most important is the saddle stitching method, this is characterized by the use of two thick needles that alternate in diagonal stitches to create an extremely firm fabric, capable of withstanding the ravages of time and the use. Mastering the saddle technique is not easy, but it is a key pillar for the brand’s craftsmen.

This centuries old technique and many others have been inherited over the years, to make Hermès maintain its quality as an atelier, offering durable products, with impeccable designs and a value that beyond money, manages to capture the art of those who make each piece.

To learn more about the specialized work of Hermès craftsmen, you can consult these detailed posts.

Innovation in luxury accessories

Hermès has always been considered a brand of innovation, a fashion house capable of creating trends in its field and many more. Over the years, the French atelier has shown that its designs have been the cornerstone for the invention of new bags and styles in fashion.

For this reason, Hermès identifies itself with three of its flagship bags, called the Hermès trinity: Kelly, Constance and Birkin. These accessories have been a part of popular culture since the 20th century and are considered fashion icons around the world. With their unique silhouettes, they are a status symbol in today’s society.

(1928) Kelly: The Royal Bag

In 1928, Robert Dumas decided to adapt the design of the riding saddlebags to turn them into a trapezoidal bag for women, which he called Sac à dépêches (dispatch bag). For the time, this invention represented something completely new, since by then women’s bags were envelope style, that is, quite small and flat.

So, with the arrival of Sac à dépêches the world of fashion was completely revolutionized, soon thousands of women decided to choose the option of Hermès to carry a decent and spacious enough bag.

In 1954, the actress Grace Kelly wore some models of Sac à dépêches as part of the wardrobe of the film To Catch a Thief, and the young woman fell in love with this bag of Hermès. Then, in 1956, the princess was photographed wearing a Sac à dépêches crocodile skin model to hide her pregnancy from the paparazzi, and that was how the Kelly bag rose to stardom, from the hands of royalty.

Much later, in 1977, the French atelier decided to name its famous Sac à dépêches as Kelly, so that the design would be identified with the name that made it famous, and to this day it is one of the best-selling bags of Hermès. A real classic!

To learn more about the history of the Kelly bag and its different versions, click here.

(1959) Constance: the best friend of modern women

After the great success that the Kelly bag represented, the French brand worked tirelessly to find its new successor, and fortunately they did not have to wait too long, because in 1959, the designer Catherine Chaillet created a lightweight, compact and easy to use bag, characterized by its chic air and its iconic “H” shaped closure.

This urban bag was named Constance, in honor of Catherine’s fifth daughter, who was recently born at the time. Today, the Constance bag is a marvel of luxury and sophistication, a favorite among the great elites of society.

If you want to know more about the history and versions of the Constance bag by Hermès, you can consult this article.

(1984) Birkin: luxury and functional status

In 1984, the director of the brand, Jean-Louis Dumas boarded a flight from Paris to London, in which he ran into the acclaimed actress and singer Jane Birkin, the young woman was recognized during the time for her eccentric fashion style; with a very marked Parisian air despite being English. Jane used to carry a spacious wicker basket with her, and this time she would flaunt it on the flight.

Jean-Louis Dumas could not help but notice that the girl had a hard time positioning her basket in the overhead compartment of the plane, so he decided to design a perfect bag for her, one that was spacious and elegant enough to carry all her belongings. Jane Birkin was totally pleased with the director’s idea.

Today the Birkin bag has become the clearest example of exclusivity and status, commonly referred to as the most expensive luxury accessory in the world, and not for nothing is it the most famous bag in the atelier, even above its predecessors Kelly and Constance. It’s curious, right?

Do you want to know more about the differences and similarities between the Kelly and the Birkin? Check out this guide.

Without a doubt, Hermès is a fashion house made famous by the meticulous work of its craftsmen, the dedication of its designers and the merit of its unprecedented creations.

The French atelier is a worthy example of family effort and the inheritance of a living tradition, which over time will remain as an art without comparison, even above technological advances.