The Design Exchange has been hosting a variety of fashion exhibits this year. We’ve seen Christian Louboutin, Lingerie Française (which launched last week) and now – Hermès has arrived in Toronto. Yesterday, I was invited to the exclusive launch of this showcase.
Hermès was founded by Thierry Hermès in Paris in 1837. Interestingly, it was a house of master harness-making and later saddle-making. Fast forward to today and six generations of enterprising artisans later, it is one of the most luxurious fashion brands in the world. Hermès is still a family company, combining fashion with traditional craftsmanship.
This week, Hermès has brought some of its craftsmen directly from France to Toronto – many of them don’t speak English, so there is a translator on-site in case you would like to chat with them. The exhibit is divided into several stations, where the hardworking people behind the brand are standing and explaining how they create the legendary scarves, gloves, ties, purses and other pieces. They also show us how they do it.
I particularly enjoyed chatting with the gentleman who was the glove artisan. He was very engaging, not to mention that it was great to chat with him in French. He basically showed me how the leather is cut, pulled and polished. He was then showing how he creates the shape of gloves. It’s hard to explain something like this – you really have to experience it.
It was also interesting to see the CEO of Hermès, Patrick Thomas, in attendance as well. He said that the exhibition has arrived directly from London (this made me think of our coverage of Hermès a few years ago) and Dusseldorf.
Thomas also noted that 75 per cent of current Hermès products are made in-house and 85 per cent are still made in France. It’s only their ready-to-wear and some jewelry that is outsourced to be created outside of the country. “We have a venue strategy, as opposed to a volume strategy,” he said.
The event is aptly called Festival des Métiers and translates as the Festival of Crafts. Take a look at some of the photos below – I am sure they would encourage you to attend. But don’t forget – the exhibit wraps up this Sunday!