Hermès isn't just the world's most sought-after leather goods brand. It's also a family. Founded in 1837 as a harness workshop by horse-loving Thierry Hermès, it began selling leather saddles to the world's elite riders and moved into accessories and women's clothing at the turn of the century. By the 1920s Thierry's grandsons had introduced the first leather handbags, which led to the creation of the iconic Kelly and Birkin bags each of which are still sewn by hand. That craftsmanship continues to define their scarves, woven in Lyon using silk raised on a private farm in Brazil, and their perfumes, mixed by Hermès' resident perfumer instead of a big laboratory. Chief executive Patrick Thomas says customers leave Hermès with much more than an object. "The artisans put their heart and soul in the bag," he said recently. "And when the client buys it, they buy a bit of the ethic of Hermès."
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