Hermès: family company and the epitome of luxury

Hermès is a French fashion house and family company from Paris. It was founded in 1837 and has grown into one of the most luxurious manufacturers of fashion, handbags, accessories, and other luxury goods. Hermès stands for high quality, professional craftsmanship, fame, and timeless classic designs. Two of the most sought-after handbags on the luxury market are from Hermès: the Kelly Bag and the Birkin Bag


It’s hard to believe, but the long history of Hermès really began in Germany, in Krefeld to be precise. Thierry Hermès was born there in 1801. He completed an apprenticeship as a saddler and moved to Paris in 1828, where he practiced his profession as a saddler and opened his first shop near the Madeleine in 1837. At first, he offered high-quality accessories for horses. Saddles in particular (which have been in the range since 1867) are still in great demand at Hermès. His son, Charles-Émile Hermès, continued to run the business, adding leather goods such as luggage and suitcases in the 1890s. Handbags were added to the product range in the 1920s under the management of their next son, Émile Maurice Hermès. From the beginning, they were known for their extraordinary materials and their incomparable workmanship.


Tradition is very important at Hermès. One of the company’s first handbags was the Hermès “Petit Sac Haut à Courtois”, which has been on the market since 1935. Originally designed as a saddle rack, it was redesigned several times before it was made famous by the American actress and Monegasque Princess Grace Kelly and named after her.

Nobody less than Alfred Hitchcock has brought together what is inseparable today: Grace Kelly and the Kelly Bag from Hermès. In 1954, Hitchcock had his costume designer Edith Head buy Hermès accessories for the film “To Catch a Thief” with Grace Kelly in the lead role. In 1956, the pregnant Princess of Monaco Grace Kelly was photographed as she tried shyly with her handbag to protect her baby bump from the paparazzi. This photo has become history – and the bag has achieved cult status.

Today, the Hermes Kelly Bag, with its gorgeous trapezoidal shape and the most luxurious leathers, is valued by celebrities and millionaires as a symbol of wealth. These bags are very prestigious and very difficult to come by. They are made with the greatest care and precision by just one craftsman who takes around 18 to 24 hours of work to make a Kelly Bag.


In 1984 Hermès introduced another iconic bag: the Hermès Birkin Bag. The story goes that Hermès managing director Jean-Louis Dumas sat next to actress Jane Birkin on a plane trip from Paris to London in 1983. She had just put her travel bag in the hold for her seat, but the contents fell to the deck. Birkin explained to Dumas that it was difficult to find a leather weekend bag that she liked and that had plenty of space. In 1984 he created a black, supple leather bag based on a 1982 design for Jane Birkin.

This model has overtaken the Hermès Kelly in popularity. The bag is extremely sought after because of its high price and popularity among celebrities. In fact, it is considered to be one of the most expensive handbags in the world. This price is also justified by the elaborate handwork: Depending on the choice of leather, production takes between 72 hours and two weeks, so that no more than two or three bags can be made in a week. As a result, it can take months or even years from ordering to receiving a bag.

These points make the Hermès Birkin bag probably the most valuable handbag. It is often even traded as a safe investment and asset.

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