Hermès is still raising temperatures (and auction paddles) with its coveted Birkin bag, which starts at $8,500. In May, Christie’s smashed its own world record when the matte crocodile Birkin with diamond-encrusted hardware above sold at auction in Hong Kong for $380,000.
At the other end of luxury’s elite-meets-the-street culture spectrum these days, Hermès also plans to release its first line of skateboards and longboards in late September, starting at a reported $3,000.
How to explain the dichotomy? The Paris-based luxury brand’s CEO Axel Dumas is realistic about global political and economic uncertainties. “We did better than we expected in 2016 and we are entering 2017 on a solid base but remain cautious in view of an uncertain environment,” Dumas commented.
Hermès, long known for its leather goods, perfumes and printed silk scarves, detailed its half-year 2017 sales by category in July:
• Growth in Leather Goods and Saddlery (+12%) was sustained thanks to the success of the collections and the diversity of models. The development was supported by the sustained pace of production and the increase in capacities at the three new sites in Charente, Isère and Franche-Comté. In June, the Group opened two new production sites, the Maroquinerie de Normandie and the Ganterie-Maroquinerie in Saint-Junien.
• The Ready-to-wear and Accessories division (+10%) performed well, driven by the success of the ready-to- wear collections as well as jewellery accessories and shoes.
• The Silk and Textiles business line (+6%) pursued positive momentum, with sustained demand (one of its scarves, beloved by Victoria Beckham and Queen Elizabeth II alike, sells every 25 seconds) and creative diversity.
• The Perfumes division (+8%), which gained from the launches of Galop d’Hermès and the colognes Eau de néroli doré and Eau de rhubarbe écarlate in the second quarter 2016, posted an increase.
Hermès International S.A. was established in 1837 and remains today, at the apex of the luxury goods sector, the delicate balance of old-world elegance and modern tastes.
At the helm since 2014, Dumas, a sixth-generation member of the founding family, eschews marketing in the traditional sense, even as the brand has fun on Instagram and other social channels.
“We don’t do commercial studies,” Dumas says about market research. “We don’t ask people what they want or reference what others do. You don’t need marketing. You need to be true to your style. At Hermès, we create desires [and] remain faithful to ourselves, to our ethics, our values and our clients.”