Hermès - Which is the oldest brand in the world?

Talking about luxury products, there are a lot of brands with hundreds of years of activity behind them. Royal Delft from the Netherlands was founded in 1653, JeanRichard watches (Switzerland) in 1681, Meissen porcelain in 1710, Piacenza textiles (Italy) in 1733. After that, we have Blancpain (watches), Garrard & Co (jewellery) and Richard Ginori (porcelain) all in 1735, and Vacheron Constantin (watches) in 1755.

What about fashion? Aquascutum was founded in 1851, Louis Vuitton was founded in 1854, Burberry in 1856. But before these, there is Hermès, which first saw the light in 1837 and has become one of the best-known brands in the world, with an extensive range of products in all areas of luxury.

Hermès has now reached its 175th anniversary, and it is celebrating with an exhibition in London opening on 8 May 2012 and running until 27 May. It will take place at 6 Burlington Gardens, London W1, and it will focus on one of the principal materials used by the brand: leather. Thierry Hermès in fact founded the company in Paris specifically to make harnesses and saddles. At the show, titled "Leather Forever," there will be some period pieces, such as items commissioned for the Duchess of Windsor. Hermès craftsmen will be at work at the exhibition, demonstrating leatherworking techniques.

Pierre-Alexis Dumas, artistic director of Hermès and a sixth-generation member of the founding family, said, "Sometimes I picture my ancestor Thierry Hermès back in 1837, his eyes lighting up as he breathes in and feels the leathers of the saddle and harness workshop he has just set up in Paris… the same olfactory joy thrills me today."

The brand has created four new bags dedicated to the United Kingdom. These will be on sale, with proceeds going to the Royal Academy of Arts.

  • Leather Forever
  • 6 Burlington Gardens, London W1
  • 8-27 May, open every day 10 a.m.-6 p.m., open until 10 p.m. on Fridays
  • Admission free