Hermès Festival of Craft; How to Truly Connect with Your Customer

Recently we had the pleasure of taking a little road trip to Washington D.C for a really special fashion event.  Hermès, in the  true spirit of the label’s heritage, held what they call Festival des Métiers (Festival of Craft) in three American Cities: Seattle, Chicago, and D.C., with plans to visit other cities around the world.

Hermes Festival of Craft

What is the Festival of the Craft?
In an effort to share the tradition and heritage of their brand with fans, admirers, and customers alike, the label brought together a handful of its most talented artisans to travel the world and show, step by step, how they do what they do. The level of quality behind the pieces is impossible to ignore when you are given the opportunity to go behind the scenes this way.

What does this mean for you?
Well, you already know how important it is to tell the story behind your brand but what about sharing the hands behind the work?  When your current or prospective customers are invited to get a glimpse onto your process, how you do what you do, why you do what you do, and  what makes it all come together.

It used to be that designers didn’t really share their process with the world.  Like so many other creative people, there was a tendency to want to protect what they were doing from being the world until it was “ready”.  But this doesn’t seem to be the case anymore, at least not with brands who understand the power of transparency. Showing off your creative process is an intriguing part of what you have to offer your customer.

In the case of Hermès, attendees were brought behind the magic curtain.  We felt as if we were getting a glimpse into a multi-generation family owned business and all it’s secrets and traditions.  And, for the most part, we were.  We learned a lot.  From watching the handbag maker hand stitch a leather strap and the tie maker hand stitch beautiful men’s silk ties to glimpsing the jeweler apply diamond to a gold cuff by hand and the shirtmaker embroider the Hermès name into handmade men’s shirts, it was an experience we will never forget.

Here are a few interesting things we learned about Hermès scarves:

  • 300 silk pods are needed to make one scarf.
  • Hermès scarves are all the same price, not matter whether they are 3 colors or 14 colors
  • The Hermès screen printing facilities in Lyon France have low ceilings and bare floors as to avoid foreign matter becoming stuck in the dyes.
  • All scarves are created on a heated screen printing table for quick drying
  • Hermès scarves are finished  by hand rolling and stitching
  • All scarves made anywhere but in Lyon are recycled and not sold, including the ones we watched the screen printers make

It was amazing to learn about the process from the people who actually make it happen.

We couldn’t help but overhear the murmurs of the audience.  One sentiment that stood out to us was how, in seeing this and being part of such an in depth brand experience, they now truly understand why Hermès products are so expensive; why they are a real luxury through and through.  What a wonder concept.  Consumers identifying the need to charge what your craft is worth and not short change your work in order to make a sale.  This side effect alone is worth exploring the concepts of transparency and story telling.

Just remember this: By allowing the consumer to explore the world of Hermès and the craft and skill possessed by its artisans, the brand has created a long lasting bond with both its existing customers and potential new ones.

Hermes Scarf Print

Check out all the amazing photos in our Flickr Album.


Nicole Giordano

Nicole is the founder of StartUp FASHION, an online resource and community supporting for independent designers around the world with building their businesses. A deep love for the craft of fashion paired with an adamant belief that success is defined by the individual, led her to found StartUp FASHION, where she helps independent designers and makers screw the traditional fashion business rules, create their own paths, and build businesses they truly love. More than anything else, she’s in the business of encouragement and works every day to remind makers and designers that they have something special to offer the world and that they can, in fact, do this thing!