When it takes one year to prepare to make a tie, how do you grow this business to be ten percent of sales (425 million euros in 2012) for a luxury maison?
After only bags and scarves, le cravat is the most important business for the French luxury company Hermes. What is remarkable about the category’s significant size is that it takes over a year to develop a single tie. The design process alone is 2,000 hours, or six to eight months. Drawn in the Paris studio, the design is then sent to the engraver where colours are separated.
The quality of the Hermes tie is a direct result of its production. Rolls of silk are spread across tables, colours mixed in and then the silk twill thread is woven. This process is another six months, with the discerning eye of the artisans, finishers, and quality control.
“The solidarity of the twill is exceptional”, two distinct pieces to assemble (the blade and tail) versus the industry standard of three, and a single lining (when the industry, again, has usually two lining types), ensure excellent durability and dry-cleaning results.
Photos by Nathan Pask for WWD.
With a development investment as high as each tie is, we are referring here to the 2,000 hours of design plus another few months of engraving, how has Hermes grown the business in its almost 50 years? In 2012 silk and textiles saw increases of 16 percent over the previous year.
“Our designs evolve perpetually – we never engage in a big revolution, but we change in each collection the size of the designs, the rhythm, and color combinations,” Christophe Goineau, creative director of Hermes men’s silk department, told WWD. The Hermes 59 EA vintage silk tie has had 100 different colors applied to it over the years.
Tie size, options of light- and heavy- twill fabrics, and an eight- centimeter width versus a 9.1 centimeter provide additional options which do not significantly affect the production process – and very little of the design and engraving process.
Classical designs offer a longer shelf life, and lend themselves more easily to different color combinations. The whimsical designs offer more play and creativity in scale, and rhythm. This is how the company maximizes each design’s life – and their sales.
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Hermes is a company known for its high quality, meticulous, creative and talented artists and craftspeople. They are also one of the most successful and profitable luxury companies on the globe today, out-indexing the players with double digit increases year-over-year. It is something they have achieved this without sacrificing their values and core.
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