No Haste – No Waste
There’s more to Hermès products than the eye can see
On entering an Hermès boutique, which for many of us is the proverbial Mecca of luxury, we often get carried away by the beauty of the Hermès products on offer. Our eyes and hands flit from object to object, now fiddling with them to feel the fabric, now trying on a scarf or a leather jacket, now gently caressing the softness of the Birkin leather… The emotion takes over and we leave the shop with a coveted trophy skillfully packed in the religious orange box and adroitly shoved into a not even less religious orange shopping bag. We keep strolling along a boulevard dangling the newly-acquired thing oblivious to the whole whirl of the procedures and processes it took to produce it. And quite right so! Do we have to care? However, for those who care – may ye rest assured – Hermès is more than a sweatshop whose aim is to carelessly flood the market with stuff without giving a damn about all it takes to manufacture it. Conversely, the powerhouse has elaborately developed a great deal of meticulous and utterly sustainable methods and techniques which go in line with not only cost-effectiveness but also preservation of nature.
To many of us it might seem unspectacular, but in my opinion, a company which does its best to utilize as many remnants as possible is more than praiseworthy.
A lab of rational ideas
Bags, saddles, gloves, shoes, belts – you name it! These Hermès objects could not be made without leather. But this precious raw material is not always used in its entirety by other companies. The house’s craftsmen and designers have therefore devised new solutions to reduce and recycle offcuts, which obviously remain during the complicated process of production.
When the skins arrive at the workshops, they are carefully scrutinized and sorted. Their grain and colour will coexist within the object, define its daily use, and inspire a desire to adopt it for life. When the cutting stage is reached, all optimisation techniques are implemented to minimise waste, in keeping with artisanal best practice. It is nonetheless impossible to eliminate it altogether. So what happens to these remnants? They are a bottomless well of ideas!
None are left out, there is a home for them all somewhere. One will become a card holder, another - a handle of a briefcase. Even the smallest pieces of leather find a purpose. They will be sent to whichever production site, sector or partner can turn them into something of value.
Circles, strips and other leather odds and ends are also recovered by the creative laboratory where artisans, designers and artists exchange ideas. It offers an opportunity to experiment without boundaries. At Hermès, the conundrum of optimising leather has been transformed into an invitation to re-create, a reservoir of inventiveness.
Variety at its best
But how could I omit the importance of mentioning the most popular types of skins that Hermès uses to create its objects, especially the renowned Birkin and Kelly! Each leather type has its iconic name and even more iconic properties that can satisfy the most discerning and demanding client – Hermès Togo, Hermès Clemence, Hermès Fjord, Hermès Epsom, Hermès Courchevel, Hermès Barenia, Hermès Swift and an unending array of others which can mesmerize and make you addicted at first touch.
Practise conscious purchasing
Next time you pay a visit to an Hermès store, do linger for a while and wander slowly along the leather products department in order to both admire the art of craftsmanship by not only contemplating its beauty but also touching the objects in order to feel the luxury they ooze, as well as to pay very special attention to the fact that every little piece on offer has its long history of getting onto the shelf.
How cute would it be to imagine the possibility of your bag charm being – no matter how fortuitous – carved out of the same piece of leather as the bag that you are carrying?! 😇
I encourage you to stay tuned as our next article will invite you into the mysterious world of Hermès skins, their particularities as well as the finishing details of mastery honed by the House to the point of utmost perfection.