The first customer for a Hermès design was a horse and the first design was a harness. That was in 1837 when Thierry Hermès, great-great grandfather of Jean-Louis Dumas-Hermès, now chairman of Hermès, established a harness shop at 18 Rue Basse du Rempart. His business was wholesale, selling harnesses to the great coachbuilders of the Champs Elysées. Fundamental to the development of the company, the personal relationship between patron and House has been the guiding principal of its expansion.
Case Study Concept
Students were asked to update and communicate the Hermès classics to attract a broader and more youthful audience (i.e. Kelly bag, Hermès scarf, Hermès tie, H belt, Enamel), while keeping in mind which marketing initiatives will play a role in the communication.
Design, Business and Marketing Plan Solution
From the onset, the project design team wanted to highlight the rich heritage and craftsmanship of Hermès, which developed icons such as its silks and the Kelly bag. Since Hermès aims to surprise its customers with new products and its subtle whimsical charm, the team’s goal was to maintain the essence of Hermès while revitalizing some of the iconic pieces.
The team started with new product ideas and focused on ways of using the existing products such as its silk patterns, H-buckles, and enamel in innovative ways. Once the direction for design was decided, the next step was creating launch and marketing campaigns for these new products which embraced the theme, “Tradition Meets Innovation”. The two launch event recommendations included a Winter Wonderland Party with carriage rides in Boston and a Summer Yachting Event at Bal Harbour with custom hot air balloons. In order to attract a broader audience, the two marketing campaigns were designed to enhance Hermès’ extensive support of the Arts. The first marketing campaign, themed “Art Meets Innovation”, extended Hermès’ commitment to the Arts by sponsoring sculptures at P.S.1, developing a public installation tease campaign and partnering with Publicolor. The second marketing campaign, entitled “Le Duc Drive-In”, expanded Hermès’ dedication to French artistic icons by re-launching classic canonical French films: attendees would be escorted in Horse-Carriages, the ‘Duc’, to screenings in Central Park near Claremont Stables.
As a result of this creative process, the team developed a working environment which fostered creativity while keeping attuned to project deadlines and the clients needs.
The Hermès Project Team
Jennifer Chou, Columbia Business School
Mili Dutt, Columbia Business School
Jay Farrand, Columbia Business School
Lisa Grey, Columbia Business School
Julie Grossman, Columbia Business School
Swan Sit, Columbia Business School
Christen Maxwell, Parsons The New School for Design
Laura Pharaon, Parsons The New School for Design
Noorindah Iskander, Parsons The New School for Design