The world famous French company Hermès was established in Paris as a harness making shop in 1837 by Thierry Hermès (1801-1878).
His goal was to create the finest wrought harnesses and bridals for the carriage trade. In 1855 the company won first prize in its class at the Paris Exposition and was recognised again in 1867 when they were awarded first prize at the Exposition Universelle. The line was expanded during the late 1870s by Thierry’s 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 and they renamed it 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 seven years later branched into fashion with their first women’s clothing collection. In the 1930s they added the now famous Hermès scarf to their product line, and in 1938 they launched the ‘Chaîne d’ancre’ bracelet.
More new products were released over the next few years, including silk ties and perfume. Emile-Maurice died in 1951 and was succeeded by Robert Dumas- Hermès. Dumas was related to the family by marriage only and thus incorporated the Hermès name into his own. He continued to expand product offerings and created collections of original jewellery designs. The 1970s brought vast international expansion, with shops opening across the United States, Japan and Europe.
Hermès celebrated its 150th anniversary in 1987 at a time when its bold jewellery was extremely popular. During the 1990s they continued to expand, venturing successfully into crystal and porcelain tableware. The Hermès family still owns the majority of the company stock and today the firm has multiple divisions offering a wide spectrum of luxury products to its clients through over 300 outlets worldwide.