How Hermès Invented Hype

It might seem that Hermès is a synonym for luxury, but the 184-year-old French house is very particular about words. In fact, when I ask the label’s men’s artistic director, the warm and sophisticated Véronique Nichanian, what she thinks about the word luxury, she practically rolls her eyes. “For me, that does not mean anything—luxury,” says Nichanian, who has helmed the house’s menswear maison for nearly 32 years. She describes her pieces as “vêtements-objets”—something akin to clothes as objects—and adds, “I’m not doing fashion.” Indeed, what Hermès aspires to create—with its Birkin bags, crocodile-skin peacoats, and highly sought-after scarves—are not merely products. And you don’t really buy these objects; you collect them. If shopping can seem like an act of mindless consumerism, Hermès makes the process of welcoming new things into your life a pursuit of connoisseurship. Read more at GQ.