Following a feature story of this issue on Modernism+Craftsmanship, Hermès is the first brand that came to mind. Since its foundation in 1837, the maison has always valued creations by artisans. When speaking of Hermès, everybody thinks of the finest quality products. However, the true allure of the house is not only about their earnest and strong craftsmanship but also their approach to realise the modernism which has been developed along the way. Having started off as a workshop specialised in saddlery at its foundation, Hermès produced countless items with a sense of craftsmanship and modernism; Haut à Courroies, the predecessor of the house’s well known Kelly or Birkin, breath-taking beautiful patterns and colours of the Carré scarf, and cases for Apple Watches and AirTags, just to name a few. Nowadays, it might not be considered anything special anymore, but Hermès was the first fashion house to have produced a pair of sneakers.
Now, We would like to introduce a manga, Le Chemin D’Hermès by Keiko Takemiya, from which you can learn of the maison’s craftsmanship as well as its evolution. The manga depicts the bright history of the fashion house, from its founder Thierry Hermès’ childhood in the beginning of 18th century, all the way up until 1996, the year the manga was published. Actually, the idea of the manga was created when Jean-Louis Dumas, CEO at the time, made Ms. Takemiya an offer “to express the history of Hermès by a Japanese manga”. In a situation where no official document about the history of the company existed, one cannot help but feel astonished by the innovative concept of using the art of a manga to realise the idea. It tells us secret stories about how Hermès became one of the top maisons and how masterpieces such as the Kelly bag and Carré scarf with beautiful illustrations were created. As one of the interesting events corresponding to the feature theme Modernism+Craftsmanship, we would like to share an amazing story, which is especially touching and also represents very well how the company respects craftsmanship. Here are some wonderful words by the company’s craftsmen, when the maison got caught up in a crisis after the Great Crash of 1929 in New York; “Our president always gave us first priority. He implemented paid leave, bonuses, as well as health insurance earlier than the government. We don’t mind not being paid for the next three years. Please restructure the company”. This story of artisans exemplifies the foundation of Hermès, on which they value artisans most highly, and therefore artisans can do their work with pride. Including this great story, the house published a new edition of Le Chemin D’Hermès, a manga looking back on the history of the maison, which consists of the first book and a sequel, to celebrate the opening of the Omotesando boutique in February 2021. I highly recommend you read it. Furthermore, it is very Hermès to deliver their philosophy and approach not only by beautiful items and objects but also through various mediums such as the magazine Le Monde D’Hermès, which has been published globally twice a year since 1973. Recently, we also saw Hermès’ inventive approach to work actively with Japanese creators from Tokyo, such Radio Hermès, an internet radio station which presents the maison’s free and creative philosophy, as well as a collaboration with YOSHIROTTEN, a graphic artist who created a cover design of a previous issue of Silver, to create artwork for the opening of the Omotesando boutique. Adding to that, since October 2021, they released 7 movies on their official site, which were created with Japanese upcoming creators under the theme of travelling and craftsmanship. You cannot help following what’s up next!
As we learnt here, Hermès continues to challenge the modern world with new designs and styles, while still paying attention to craftsmanship, which remains a core value in their long history. And that is what makes the house one of the best examples of how to present modernism and craftsmanship. By the way, the famous Hermès logo design is that of a horse, a carriage and a coachman but no owner. You might already know, but the owner is a user. It means “we prepare the finest horse and carriage but the one to take the reins is you, our customer”. Considering this motto, there is no doubt that Hermès’ items are of the finest quality for all people leading a modern life.
Among many leather goods, a pair of gloves requires mastery skills. As it covers your hands, the material should have a fine texture against your skin, as well as comfortable stretchy properties. Hermès’ gloves are manufactured in an atelier in Saint-Junien, in west-central France, a place famous for its leather glove making since the Middle Ages. At the atelier which has been producing gloves since 1880’s, the gloves are hand-stitched using a traditional method, which consists of 15 processes, and is completed by 10 artisans. Once you slip your hands into the masterpiece made of soft and smooth deer skin with a cashmere lining, you will immediately feel its high skilled craftsmanship.
An item that exhibits the roots of Hermès, which produced horse rugs in the 19th century. In the beginning of 1920, to meet the lifestyle needs of its customers who travelled frequently, the house started to make blankets and cushions so that buyers could keep themselves warm in their canvas topped cars. Through their long history, they updated the fabric and design according to people’s lifestyles. Adding to the fine cashmere feel, their “H dye” is characteristic for its soft allure which could be achieved by hand-dyeing. Each piece is unique and excellent, and one can feel the artisanal warmth.
Hermès has produced many a masterpiece, but Haut à Courroies is the first bag that the house ever made. In the early 20th century, when Haut à Courroies was born, it was a favourite bag of upper-class people who would use it to carry their horse-riding boots and saddles. With the growing popularity of the automobile, it evolved from a horse-riding bag to a travel bag. Keeping its symbolic design such as the flap closure, a distinctive feature of Haut à Courroies, this model is updated with modern and functional features. Drawing inspiration from military clothes, pockets providing useful storage to keep the necessary goods of our modern lives, such as smart phones, earplug cases and tumblers, were added.
This marine globe represents this year’s annual theme, Odyssey. Contrary to a terrestrial globe, it shows an oceanographic chart instead of a land chart, which makes the object interesting. It is made by printing nautical charts drawn by Irish artist Nigel Peake on leather, and cutting them into 12 pieces to cover a globe made of resin. As the chart is very detailed, each piece has to be placed on the globe precisely, which requires a highly skilled artisan’s technique. Only up to 10% of the bottom of the ocean has been discovered and much of it remains shrouded in mystery. This item is very Hermès because one can feel the adventurous spirit and artisanal inquisitive mind from it.
Next to bags, the Carré scarf is another item synonymous for Hermès. Since its debut in 1937, it has attracted people with its many beautiful patterns and colours for each season. The production of Carré consists of many processes. First, based on a detailed drawing, the colourist decides the colour combination at their atelier in Lyon. They prepare dyes according to the colour, then print the drawing on silk with a platemaking for each colour to create beautiful patterns. All edges are hand-rolled by craftsmen. This season’s new scarf Drive Me Crazy is made with double-sided printing, which adds an innovative feel, and one can enjoy different colour combinations on each side. As if to express the innovation of our life, motifs such as that of horses and motorbikes are illustrated on it.
A bracelet reminiscent of the closure part of the classic Kelly bag. Made of not only lightweight aluminium but also of high heat conductivity that allows it to adopt the wearer’s body temperature immediately, it features comfortable wearability, a simple design as well as high performance utility. At first glance, the black surface looks lacquered, but, to our surprise, is actually finished with a dye. Alumite treatment is applied to dye it black, which is a special technology used in architecture and sculpture. The bracelet is designed to make scratches inconspicuous in consideration of ageing. This gem shows that the house adopts modern technology to their artisanal approach.
For a modern and creative city dweller, a bicycle is a necessary tool. This City Ride Collection consists of functional items which are perfect for a city rider. A hood attached shawl made of technical materials features a tape which can store light energy. The gloves also have a special feature, in which you can add cuffs made of technical material to protect against rain and wind in bad weather. Both items are made of warm cashmere wool, in the eye catching signature colour of Hermès, vivid orange. Furthermore, the knitted ‘H’ motif adds a three dimensional effect. Modern design meets functionality resulted in this beautiful piece.
|Photo Taro Mizutani||Hair Kenichi Yaguchi
|Edit Takayasu Yamada
Translation Fumie Tsuji
Silver N°13 Autumn 2021Buy on Amazon