Tandem | Hermes


Tandem, a decade of open-mindedness

In late 2008, an artisan from the leather workshop in Sayat laid down his tools in Puy-de-Dôme to spend a week behind a counter with a sales associate at the faubourg Saint-Honoré store in Paris. It was the start of the Tandem exchanges. Bringing these two worlds together is not simply a matter of distance. It is an invitation to live somebody else’s life and introduce them to one’s own.
Since 2014, the exchanges have become more frequent, and each week a craftsman and sales associate step into each other’s shoes to swap gestures, rituals and schedules. These are the rules of the game for the Tandem programme. The leather workshops paved the way, followed by textiles, then the watchmaking, porcelain and enamel manufactures. And stores in every country have joined in, with Asia in the lead. The boundaries crossed are not only geographical. Seen through the eyes of another, each person’s metier takes on its full meaning. It becomes a joint enterprise, a shared culture.
 “When you bring a Kelly or Birkin to life, you always ask yourself how it’s going to be presented to clients, who’s going to wear it, why they’ll choose it. During my immersion in my ‘Tandem’ partner’s Hermès store in Las Vegas in December 2017, I realised how much goes on after the workshop! I was also able to observe the attention both seller and customer paid to the details that we, the leather workers, carefully handle every day. Many people thanked me – I wasn’t expecting it at all.”
Virginie Dubois,
leather worker at the La Tardoire leather workshop, Montbron (Charente)

Discover more

  • Footsteps across the world collection

    Recognisable by their trademark white coats, which have earned them the nickname the Blouse Brothers, the Prudhomme brothers, Lionel and André, are supervisors at the Pantin leather workshop. But beyond their clothing, their skills honed by four decades with the house have given them the status of mentors, dispensing precious advice with a keen eye for the smallest detail. They pass on to their fellow leather craftsmen the secrets of flawless finishes and the requisites for a perfect bag.
  • The golden filets of porcelain

    Of all the arts involved in glazing ceramics, that of painting a band, or filet, onto a piece of porcelain is one of the most intricate. In the Hermès workshops in Nontron, the artisans must juggle between bowls, large vases, plates, dishes and tureens. Eight gold-filet workers maintain this know-how, decorating the pieces by hand using a liner brush saturated with gold, platinum or colour.
  • Dexterity, the trade secret of talent

    Agile fingers dance with tools for cutting and table work in the leather workshops. Hermès welcomes diversity in backgrounds and ages. Here, dexterity, tested with the French Pôle emploi (Job Centre) prevails over initial training. This, along with respect for time, is the main secret of crafting objects.