Footsteps across the world collection | Hermes
Footsteps across the world collection
Hermès endeavours to create objects that withstand the test of time and to forge lasting connections with the surrounding world. Film and documentary maker Frédéric Laffont, winner of the Albert Londres award, brings his humanistic perspective to bear as he walks in the house’s footsteps and gives free rein to his camera.
With curiosity awakened, we navigate between stories and portraits, carried along by gestures and places, and taking discovery to the ends of the earth…
Our relationship with sustainable development shines through this Footsteps across the World collection.
Saint-Ouen and Paris, France
These classes of 14 and 15-year-olds in the Île-de-France region, at the Michelet professional high school in Saint-Ouen, and Staël high school in the 15th arrondissement of Paris, have neither maths nor French lessons today. Benjamin, Emmanuelle and Diane, saddler-leatherworkers, have come to their classrooms to convey “the pleasure of doing and sharing”. By meeting these craftsmen, who share their passion with students aged 9 to 16 as part of the Manufacto programme initiated by the Fondation d’Entreprise Hermès, a new lesson was learned: that you can make your life by making objects.
Hong Kong, China
Pushing open the door of one of Hermès’ fifteen repair workshops around the world is like entering a magicians’ den, where the passage of time is made to disappear. In Hong Kong, on the 22nd floor of a tower in the Admiralty district where they have laid out their tools, Christelle, Farid and Alexandre save their best tricks for objects that have a past. Unseen and unnoticed, these experienced artisans, trained in French leather goods workshops, make a well-loved bag look new again, by changing a handle, retouching an area of colour or using the saddle stitch. Restoring, repairing, it’s what their “metier” is all about.
Her Kelly, with its dark-hued patina, carries the memory of her mother along with her small treasures. And the pages of the diary she purchases once a year from Hermès are gradually filled with the daily journal she has kept since she was 4 years old. This is a private luxury, at once a legacy and a narrative.
Hermès collaborates with artists, such as the English illustrator Alice Shirley, to interpret and pay tribute to the beauty and wealth of the planet via motifs and prints.
Drawings on the wall, prototypes, trials… On the fifth floor of 24 Faubourg, Laurent Goblet’s workshop, a saddle-maker at Hermès for forty years, has been turned into a design office for the creation of the Arpège saddle, in collaboration with German dressage champion Jessica von Bredow-Werndl. A simple stroke, a curve, a line give birth to this fine, light dream saddle that keeps a low profile, contrary to certain museum pieces. Tree, seat, flaps, girths–it is all a matter of balance in this métier that Hermès has been mastering for more than 150 years.
Hundreds of inhabitants of Sorède, in the south of France, braided whips and riding crops in hackberry wood until the car and the tractor supplanted the horse. A workshop at the foot of the Albères massif still works with this strong, supple wood, in an establishment for people with mental disabilities. Hermès entrusts them with the task of making all its riding crops and dressage kits.
Droplets, waves and mountains… the etchings held prisoner in blocks of stone were the inspiration for the Japanese master bookbinders’ marbled paper. Inkjet printing has transposed these effects to fabric, without ever equalling the delicacy and radiance of the patterns found by Hermès in an old album in the archives of its Lyon textile sector. After years of research, this technique of silk marbling using a compressed, through-coloured starch paste was rediscovered in Kyoto. The Nose family’s company, Kyoto Marble, is its custodian.
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 Goldfinger Factory spreads out under the Trellick Tower’s 98 metres of concrete. In this underprivileged part of West London, young people become talented apprentices with the support of the Fondation d’entreprise Hermès. Recycled wood and metal sheets are transformed into contemporary furniture. A social enterprise that focuses on style.
Kongussi, Burkina Faso
Place a cooking pot upside down on the ground and draw around it. Then take a termite mound, some straw, and donkey dung to obtain the refractory material for an ecological stove. In Kongoussi in Burkina Faso, the Tiipaalga association teaches women how to build these fuel-efficient wood-burning stoves, which are less polluting and improve living conditions. This is just one idea amongst many initiatives supported locally by Hermès through the Livelihoods fund.
The River Tardoire meanders through the fields where Limousine cows graze lazily. Montbron, in its picture postcard landscape, was sliding into oblivion. The opening of the Hermès leather workshop created over 250 jobs that contributed to the regeneration of this town in the Charentes area of southwestern France. Families are moving back in, a nursery class has reopened, and community activities resumed. A renaissance.
Hermès employs 15417 men and women, including 5200 craftspeople, who form the first métier of the house. This land of hand changes and hires nonstop. To train, pass on, develop, ensure well-being, health and solidarity… Our ambition is to stimulate the personal growth of everyone involved.
Hermès endeavors to exalt, in twenty or so métiers, the most beautiful materials offered by nature. Our artisans’ skillful hands respect leather, silk, fabric, wood, crystal and precious metals. To preserve, optimize, revalue and draw… Our duty is to achieve the sustainable use of these resources.
Hermès owns 43 of its 55 manufactures in France and more than 300 stores around the world. Our proximity with suppliers, partners and territories is cultivated in the field. To fertilize, mesh, renovate and be committed… Our role, as an environment-friendly company, is to build sustainable ties.