Buying a Hermès scarf in Paris remains the ultimate Parisian fashion experience for many visiting the city of lights. Aside from the skilled artisans and exclusive brand image, it’s the history of Hermès that truly entices curious fashion souls.

The History of Hermès draws us in

The heritage of this fashion powerhouse is what many brands strive for. The timelessness and back catalogues that span centuries have allowed Hermès to remain at the forefront of fashion.

Age wearies many brands who lack the capacity and skill to remain relevant. A select few brands, Hermès included, keeps up with trends so effortlessly that it has seemingly stepped out of the timeline.

The founding: 1837

Founded in Paris in 1837, the history of Hermès now spans three centuries. It was Thierry Hermès who founded the brand. And like Gucci and Louis Vuitton, Hermès began with one specific trade, with products that were made to exceptionally high standards.

Originally, the Hermès workshop specialised in equestrian products, including harnesses, saddles and bridles. As their reputation for quality grew, the brand expanded, and Thierry brought his son Charles-Émile onto the scene.

An aged photograph. Hermès sits in a smart suit staring to the right of the photo.
Thierry Hermès | Photo by an unknown photographer on Wikimedia Commons

Expansion and changing times: Into the 20th century

From 1922 onward, the European wars affected trade and production, but the brand endured. By the early 1920s the son of Charles-Émile, Émile Hermès, had entered the family business. Through his travels, Émile brought new ideas and perspectives to the brand.

The product collection grew to include more leather goods, including jewellery, footwear and men’s ready-to-wear clothing items. Leather bags were also introduced, which are of course now some of the most covetable high fashion items in the World.

An old black and white advert shows a range of saddles, leather bags and men's grooming equipment.
Hermès advertisement of 1923 | Image from Wikimedia Commons

The first Hermès silk scarf: 1937

Alongside the covetable Kelly Bag and timeless Birkin, the Hermès silk scarf is one of the most favoured Hermès products. Son-in-law to Émile Hermès, Robert Dumas, was responsible for commissioning the first silk scarf. Each is printed with a unique pattern or graphic on silk twill, and they often convey stories, legends and myths.

The era of Robert Dumas: 1951

Having been an integral part of so many of the brand’s successes, Robert Dumas was soon given the reigns of this rapidly expanding house.

A red leather purse shaped as the profile of a horse's head. It hints at the history of Hermès.
Hermès products often link back to its equestrian history | Photo by Jinsoo Choi on Unsplash

A series of rapid expansion: 1956

The Kelly bag, first created by Dumas in the 1930s, was suddenly catapulted into the public image after a chance photograph. The Princess of Monaco, Grace Kelly, had been photographed supposedly hiding a baby bump with her Hermès bag. After its sudden exponential success, the bag was renamed ‘The Kelly’.

Over the next few decades, the product collection grew to include women’s ready-to-wear clothing and accessories.

The era of Jean-Louis Dumas: 1978-2006

The Son of Robert Dumas, Jean-Louis, had the same creative mind as his father. Paired with his innate curiosity about the world, Jean-Louis had again swept the Hermès brand into its next successful era.

Another famous bag was debuted in 1984, again influenced by a woman of celebrity status. The Birkin bag was conceived when a chance meeting between Jean-Louis and Jane Birkin occurred on a flight from Paris to London. Both the Birkin and Kelly bag are continually snapped up exceptionally quick in pre-loved Hermès bag collections.

Establishing new Hermès locations: 1992-2000

The Hermès workshops moved from the 8th arrondissement of Paris to the outskirts of the city. The light, timeless architecture of its new location encompasses the brightness and freedom of the brand. New locations also appeared around the world to accompany the global nature of this fashion powerhouse.

Hermès workshop on the 8th arrondissement of Paris | Photo by Moonik on Wikimedia Commons

The sixth-generation guides Hermès into the 21st century: 2005 and beyond

The brand directorship passed from Pierre-Alexis Dumas to his cousin (and nephew of Jean-Louis) Axel Dumas. Both men are the sixth generation directors of what had become a global fashion powerhouse.

From 2022, the history of Hermès continues to grow. Its most recent venture included a beauty collection, which was the first time the brand has explored these products. Hermès remains a highly covetable brand, with vintage and pre-loved Hermès items as highly desired as its new collections.

Featured Image: Hermès shop front | Photo by Benoît Prieur on Wikimedia Commons


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