Certainly, the prestige of the brand has something to do with it, the idea of uniqueness that the Hermès name alone evokes. Just as the choice of the maison to offer (consciously) less than what the market demands, that is a strong influence. But what is striking, is the fact that many customers, rather than buying a new bag from another brand, prefer to sell out to get a Hermès at auction.
In this sense, the interview that Lucile Andreani, director of Christie’s Accessories Department, granted to Vanity Fair is illuminating. Because she acknowledges that, among Hermès’ merits, is not having renounced two elements that many competitors have abandoned: true craftsmanship and exotic leathers.
Things a new bag doesn’t have
The premise is that 95% of Christie’s auctions (accessories division, of course) involve Hermès products. They are so coveted because, as we were saying, the maison’s offer is out of proportion to the demand, while the prestige is very high. But there are two qualities in particular that make an old Hermès bag more desirable to Christie’s public than a new bag from another brand. The first: craftsmanship. “The bags are hand-sewn in the ateliers of Paris,” Andreani explains. “They are not made in mechanised plants like those of other brands”.
And already here many people’s ears are ringing: as we tell you in issue 12 of La Conceria, there is a battle going on over the definition of craftsmanship in luxury. The second quality of Hermès concerns leather: not only does it choose the best, without defects. But it uses exotic leathers, which “are rare and precious: they are desired and of high value”.