Hermès Fashion Brand
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Hermès (pronounced "air-mess") is a high end leather goods and ready-to-wear manufacturer and retailer based in Paris, France most famous for its silken scarves for women. Founded in 1837 by Thierry Hermès as a saddlery company, the business has been owned by a family member ever since. Over the years, the company has expanded to include boots, home decor items, jewelry, luggage, silk scarves, gloves and H-logo belts and Kelly bags.

The first silk scarf square in the Hermès collection was produced in 1928, and in 1937 a dedicated scarf factory was established in Lyons. The modern Hermès scarf measures 90cm square, weighs 65 grams and is woven from the silk of 250 mulberry moth cocoons. The per-pound cost of a scarf today is approximately $1,965.00 (compared to a pound of steel at $0.19).

All Hermès scarves are hand-printed using multiple silk screens (up to 30, one for each color on the scarf) and the hems are all hand-stitched. Two scarf collections per year are released, along with re-prints of older designs and limited editions. Since 1937, Hermès has produced over 25,000 unique designs and the rarer scarves are much sought-after by collectors.

The ubiquitous Brides De Gala scarf, first introduced in the 1970s, has been sold over 70,000 times. An Hermès scarf is sold somewhere in the world every 25 seconds, global volume sales peaking in the late 1980s at over 1.1 million scarves. There has been some suggestion that the hijab controversy has dampened sales of women's headscarves, with Hermès volumes suffering as a result. New scarves retail at $320 now and still account for a significant percentage of Hermès
turnover.

Famous aficionadoes of the Hermès scarf included Queen Elizabeth II (who wore one in a portrait for a British postage stamp in the 1950s), Grace Kelly (who was pictured on the cover of Life in 1956 and who used an Hermès scarf as a sling for her broken arm) Audrey Hepburn, Catherine Deneuve and Jacqueline Bouvier Onassis. More recently, Sharon Stone, Sarah Jessica Parker, Hillary Clinton, Elle McPherson and Madonna have all been snapped draped in Hermès silk. In addition to fine silk scarves, men's neck ties are also made out of the same silks and with the same care. A Hermès tie will most likely cost over $150.

In addition to its flagship store in Paris (24, rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honor), the fashion house operates boutiques in New York City, London, UK, Toronto, Ontario, San Francisco, Dublin, Ireland and Milan, Italy.

More recently, due to media spotlight in television shows such as Sex and the City the Birkin Bag has become a symbol of ultimate luxury. Generally these bags run over $5,000 and easily make their way into 5-digit figures. Birkins are made out of rare skins and leathers such as Togo Leather, Ostrich Leather, or Alligator Leather. They are specially dyed and hand made. Hermès does not use assembly lines, rather, only one artist may work on one Birkin at a time. Because of the use of rare materials, sometimes including precious metals such as gold or platinum, and because only the highest quality craftmanship is accepted, one bag can take over a week to create. The waiting list for a Birkin is now over two years.

In June 2005, celebrity Oprah Winfrey was denied access to the Company's flagship store in Paris. Winfrey's camp spoke of racism as the reason for the denied access as the store had been "having problems with North Africans lately." Hermes claimed that Winfrey had simply shown up after hours and was turned away as anyone would have been. In response to a call of apology and request to have Ms. Winfrey shop at the store again from Hermès' CEO, Ms. Winfrey stated she would no longer shop at the store. Oprah has since talked about her experience on her television talk-show in which she endorsed the company and lifted the "ban" she had placed on them in light of a genuine apology from the American Hermès CEO.

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The above article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. From Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herm%C3%A8s   the free encyclopedia  2/2/06

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