From exacting car interiors to wardrobe essentials, the Hermès Sur-mesure bespoke service caters to the fantasies of the global elite.
Hermès is perhaps best known for its leather goods, in particular its handbags such as the Birkin, which are as exclusive as they are expensive. But the luxury goods manufacturer also offers an entirely bespoke service, where the only limitation is the customer’s imagination and, of course, their budget.
Hermès began making bespoke harnesses in 1837, followed by saddles a few years later, thus establishing their bespoke practice, which they still maintain today. “The very first activity of the brand was made to measure, so it’s always been a part of the brand,” says Francois Dore, Managing Director of the Hermès Horizon’s department, a division created ten years ago dedicated to Hermès’ bespoke services.
No challenge is too great – customisations could range from custom handbags, luggage, and furniture or, what they call “big products” — the full interior fit-out of a yacht, private plane, car or helicopter. All made with the guaranteed quality, and look and feel of Hermès. In the past four years, the company has been more active in developing the big products – “We don’t really promote this offering, we are now more ready to share our experiences with our customers,” says Dore.
The collaborative process extensive back and forth with the client to take something from the idea phase, to hand-drawings, 3D models and the final product. Hermès engineers employ their technical expertise—be it in aeronautical, nautical or interior decoration. Balancing customer’s wishes while staying true to the Hermès brand is one of his “daily concerns” says Dore. However, most of the time he finds that the brand and the customer are in sync. “In fact I’m really lucky, most customers that come to see us are good Hermès customers. They know the values and core style of the brand and I never have to fight with them about this. To date, it has never happened.”
One of the more whimsical creations included a custom bag made for carrying an apple. “A client wished to give to a friend who ate an apple everyday,” explains Dore. The green case even comes with a small paring knife tucked into the side. Aircraft projects, such as a recent fit-out of an Airbus 319 for a Taiwanese customer, are particularly interesting to Dore, who used to work as an engineer. “We have to work within the parameters of so many aviation rules and regulations. Every time we take the pencil to draw something, we realise, we cannot do it. So it is a particular challenge. I love this project because we managed to create something really beautiful.”
“The coordination of a project like that is also a challenge, with a client based in Japan, an airplane built in America, and interiors crafted in France.That’s why on our team we have craftsman, studios and also a strong project management team.”
Another recent project, a client requested the refurbishment of the trunk of his vintage Bugatti, a car that was actually driven by Ettore Bugatti himself. Hermès had fit out the original trunk in 1929. This project was particularly challenging as they only had a few photographs to work with in order to maintain some historical authenticity. Dore shares, “The client came to our offices several times, spending time in the workshops, chatting with the craftsman… He really wanted to share the emotional importance of the car for him. The relationship is so strong. In every project, there is a story like that.”