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Home of the famous Birkin bag, Hermès offers the most exclusive handbags in the world and much is expected from the craftsmanship involved in the manufacturing of luxury products, but rarely do we get the chance to witness such work firsthand. And almost never can we can see directly that patient work of needles and threads and measuring tapes. However, Hermès opened the doors of his workshop in New York, and what we discovered was really revealing.
Inside a magnificent colonial-style building, the Third Church of Christ, located at 583 Park Avenue in New York, the French firm attracted the attention of guests who visited the workshop of the artisans behind some of the brand’s products. Thanks to Hermès, for five days, several people could see first-hand how the exclusive products of the French brand are made. Later these will be exhibited in Hermès stores around the world.Many of the artisans are actually families that, for several generations, have done this work, transmitting knowledge from parents to children. In this way, these artists can feel a much more intimate and profound identification with a trade that, in some way, they carry in their blood.
Since Thierry Hermès founded the company in 1837, many things have remained the same. Sewing techniques, selection of materials have been the attraction of a company that, interestingly, began designing saddles for horses. However, this persistence in the tradition has gone hand in hand with great innovations during the history of the brand.
Hermès not only makes leather accessories but also has a sophisticated line of clothing and even watches. In the shirt making room of the workshop of the Third Church of Christ, we saw many seamstresses in charge of creating the Hermès shirts. In many cases they have been working for the brand for more than twenty years and spend seven to eight hours making a shirt, a brief time compared to the time it takes to create silk scarves or the famous Kelly handbags.
Artists, politicians and socialites attended the event, and some took the opportunity to show off their own Hermès bags, among them: Aerin Lauder, Julie Macklowe, Lauren duPont, Marina Rusto and Allison Sarofim. Martha Stewart came exclusively to admire the craftsmanship of these artisans. Bob Chavez, the firm’s CEO hosted the follow up dinner.
Although oftentimes the price of luxury products has been deemed exorbitant, seeing the detail that goes into the handbags helps explain their value and exclusivity, or why there is an eight-year waiting list to purchase the Kelly handbag.