The Birth of an Hermés Bag

Do you ever wonder why Hermés is so coveted and pricey? Fashionese Daily has written about the renowned Birkin bag (part 1 and part 2). But it all comes down to its craftsmanship. At Festival Les Mestiers which stopped by at London’s Saatchi Gallery from 21-27 May 2013, I got the chance to take a peek inside the much celebrated world of Hermés’ craftsmanship.

All Hermés bags and leather goods are hand-stitched painstakingly one by one to put the pieces together. Each craftsman makes one bag from start to finish hence the little serial number stamped inside the bag- it represents the artisan’s or craftsman’s ID number.

The craftsman went through between 1-3 years of apprenticeship with Hermés, where they learnt Hermés’ core designs, such as Kelly or Birkin, when they started in the atelier (workshop) where they perfected their skills until they are allowed to work with difficult skins such as crocs, lizards or pythons, normally after 5 years of working in the atelier. They will then earn the title ‘artisan’ once they have worked for 10 years.

Each Kelly or Birkin takes around 15-18 hours to make of which 4 hours alone is spent to make the handle. However, this depends on the type of skin, so others like crocs skin takes a lot longer to do. An artisan makes around 12-18 bags per month. This time frame is only for the stitching alone, the last piece of the puzzle (there are plenty of other processes prior to this), such as the treating of the leather, colouring the leather, cutting the leather and so forth. Every single process has a strict quality control before getting passed on to the next stage. When the bag is finalised, it will go through the last quality control before it is deemed perfect to be sent out to the boutiques.

The reason why it’s hand-stitched is because it makes a stronger and long-lasting end product in comparison to stitching by machine. The stitching technique is called saddle stitch – using two needles and one piece of thread. The bags are stitched inside out, the ‘retourner’ process is when they turn the right side out, a revelation showing the best side – the outside.

After knowing this, don’t you want a Hermés bag even more? It’s an art form by itself and appreciates the passionate and skillful craftsmen behind the magnificent Hermés bag.