The Hermes handbag exemplifies leathercrafting as a work of art, often catching the eye of admirers and experts alike. So it’s understandable that these handbags don’t just get mass-produced on an assemblyline in one country with low-cost labor and then shipped everywhere else. In fact, Hermes handbags represent the opposite of such production, still dedicated to the process of slow, artisan-crafted works that have the care and expertise of a master tailor involved.
The production starts early on before any cutting or stitching is applied. The choice of leathers and skins as well as how they are cured and colored make a big difference in the outcome of the final handbag. As a result, the choice of material often requires searching and securing a ready supply so that an artisan doesn’t run short during the actual manufacturing. Further, age and curing approach often change colors of leathers, so a sourcing often needs to research what’s available and from where to get the right base material.
When the production is started, it often begins with the core pieces cut first and then hand stitched so that they can be attached as finished panels or straps when the bag is put together. This includes the interior materials as well as the outer layer people will see when the handbag is used and carried. The stitching of the assembly into a complete unit then embodies the skill and care of the artisan as he begins to produce the actual bag itself.
Most Hermes artisans have at least two years of bag-crafting school and then another year in an internship with Hermes before being allowed to actually create a unit. An expert artisan can produce a bag in less than a day, but the handle alone can take up to four hours alone. A beginning crafter can take a full work week. No surprise then, these luxury handbags command a price for the skilled craft they embody.