11 October 2011

Hermès embraces Asian Fashion by launching a range of Saris!

Hermes silk saris

The new range of Saris designed by Hermes

Hermès – one of the last independently owned luxury fashion houses is launching stand-alone stores in India! Coo-well. And guess what they are going to make to sell exclusively in their new territory? Beautiful silk saris. Why are they branching into Asian Fashion? According to Patrick Thomas, the company’s chief executive officer, ‘This is the perfect way for Hermès to make its presence in India . . . It is symbolic of the relationship of the brand to India, to be Indian in India and to share some activities with our customers’

We say; if there’s a company who knows a thing or two about creating luxury printed silks – it has to be Hermès. Apart from the luxury handbags, in particular the Birkin, whose waiting list never ends, a trademark of the house are their unmistakable scarves, with knotty ropes and horseshoes, and myriad other motifs. Now they want to make a splash in a new market, they’re using this expertise to create a tradition Indian attire – the sari, with a distinctive Parisian twist – an Hermès label.

 Hermes silk scarves

Current season Hermes silk scarves

In the range are 27 special edition saris made in special silks and inspired by the firm’s scarf patterns; apparently a logistical first for the company. ‘It is the first time printing has been done over fabric measuring 5.5 meters [18 feet] long by our ateliers of Lyon. The sari is a very sensual object, particularly in twill silk or mousseline changeante, when it reflects the light. It is very feminine and elegant,’ said Bertrand Michaud, regional managing director for India, Middle East and Southeast Asia.

It’s all part of a wider trend where luxury super brands from Europe each capitalise on ‘emerging markets’ – i.e. China and India, like the time when Karl Lagerfeld took Chanel to Shanghai with a Chinoiserie-inspired collection. In countries where industry is taking off, and the numbers of middle class and wealthy people are growing, brands that are well established in Europe, which is in a recession and the economy is not growing at such a rate, and demand for luxury goods is stable rather than ever-expanding. In order to make themselves more accessible to the locals, they will adapt their product ranges, or, in the case of Hermes in India, create whole new ones to make themselves relevant, without altering their brand DNA too radically.

Hermes shop in India

Question is, would the wealthy British-Asian community like the idea of an Hermès sari? There could be a whole new market right here. We imagine you'd look lovely in one of these on holiday or even as a drapey evening shawl, but what do you think?

Let us know what you think below . . .

- Naomi Attwood

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