The Hermes Fashion House was established in Paris as a harness making shop in 1837 by Thierry Hermes (1801-1878). His goal was to create the finest wrought harnesses and bridals for the carriage trade.
In 1855 the company the company won first prize in its class at the 1855 Paris Exposition.
Recognised again in 1867, the company won First Prize at the Exposition Universelle
The line was expanded during the late 1879 by his son and successor, Charles-Emile Hermès to include the manufacture of saddles. During this period a new retail location was opened near the Palais de l'Elysee.
Following Charles-Emile's retirement, his sons Adolphe and Emile-Maurice assumed leadership of the company. They chose to rename it to Hermès Frères. By this time they were already selling saddles to customers as far abroad as Russia and Asia.
Emile-Maurice became the first man to introduce the zipper in France and obtained exclusive rights to its use in leather clothing and accessories. In 1922 the company introduced its first handbags, and in 1924 they secured a foothold in the United States. 1929 saw the release of the first women's fashion apparel collection in Paris. Hermès is known for the "Kelly Bag" which Grace Kelly made world famous in 1956. The bag was actually manufactured much earlier in 1930.
In the 1930s they added the now famous Hermes scarf to their product line, and set up a dedicated scarf factory in 1937.
1938 saw the creation of the ‘Chaîne d’ancre’ bracelet
More new products were released over the next few years, including silk ties in 1946 and perfume in 1949.
Emile-Maurice died in 1951, to be succeeded by Robert Dumas- Hermès. Dumas was related to the family by marriage only and thus incorporated the Hermès name into his own. Robert was responsible for the introduction of the Hermès Tie, the Beach towel and the Perfumes. Dumas created original jewellery designs.
The 1970s brought vast international expansion, with shops opening across the United States, Japan and Europe. Despite this the company started to falter and lagged behind its competitors.
1970’s The subsidiary La Montre Hermès was introduced
When Robert died in 1978 he was succeeded by his son Jean-Louis Dumas-Hermès.
Hermès celebrated its 150th anniversary in 1987 at a time when its bold jewellery was extremely popular.
During the 1990s, Hermes continued to expand their product line, venturing successfully into crystal and porcelain tableware.
In 1995, the Hermès family still owned 80% of the company stock, placing the entire family on the Forbes list of billionaires.
By 2008 Hermes had 14 divisions providing a wide spectrum of products, including menswear, perfume, women's fashion, footwear and jewelry. The company now has over 20 boutiques in the United States alone and continues to produce jewellery to this day.