Heritage And Quality
THE recession might bring drops in prices - or at least waiting lists - but your hopes will be dashed if you have your sights set on an Hermès bag. Ceo of the French luxury label Patrick Thomas insists that the house will have no part in "masstige" - his term for mass produced prestige goods - and that the key to weathering the recession lies in maintaining the quality synonymous with the brand's history.
"We don't grow as fast as we could," Thomas told the Financial Times, "because we do not want to waste the image and the heritage that this company has developed in six generations just to make short term money. It would be a capital sin when you have an asset, a jewel like Hermès."
The brand - which had only 300 artisans when Thomas joined in 1989 - now employs 2,000 people capable of producing an Hermès bag, but each takes years to train and, Thomas explains, due to an increase in demand two-year waiting lists are still to be reduced.
"It is shocking to have to wait two to three years, so we try to train as many craftsmen as we can," Thomas explained. "If people buy an Hermès bag, they know it is going to last them for 40 years...it is very different from buying a bag that you are going to throw away at the end of the season."
Thomas also rubbished suggestions that Hermès are contemplating investing in struggling jewellery Asprey after purchasing its New Bond Street store (read more about the acquisition here), insisting it was a "property investment".
Hermès Winter at Last AW2009 campaign
It's a shame, but really Hermès makes a good point. If you ignore the over used word of Heritage, you are left with a brand that will promise you to deliver quality and sustainability. They are being smart in not developing the company at this time as they think doing something like a flash sale will only put Hermès at the top temporarily, and it will then be forgotten when the next label does the same thing. If you buy Hermès you're not buying something that you'll just keep in the wardrobe after using it, you're investing in assets, buying something timeless, and something that will never ever lose it's worth. It will be interesting to see how Hermès manages advertising campaigns with this in mind.