Changing attitudes in the world of fashion and product manufacturing, both among consumers and designers, has led to the formation and use of innovative materials.

Chanel was one of the first luxury designers to commit to a move away from exotic animal skins, while Hermès’ embrace of weird and wonderful materials has made headlines in recent years.

But what is it about this change in material that sparks such widespread interest?

Well, it all comes down to the status and influence that brands like Hermès have on the rest of the market. While much of the value of a Hermès bag lies in its material, how brands like these approach issues of sustainability and various eco credentials impacts the market and can roll down to more affordable brands by luxury designers paving the way.

To recognise the impact that brands like Hermès have on the market and the future of handbags and other luxury goods, you need only look at the way Hermès has become a style icon…

The role of Hermès as a style icon 

Hermès is a brand that was founded back in the 1830s, initially as a harness workshop that created accessories for riders and noblemen across Europe. Over time, the brand developed its approach to design to encompass everyday handbags, though always kept the quality high and the approach to release exclusive and coveted.

By never creating enough to meet market demand, Hermès retained an air of exclusivity around every release – thereby pushing the financial value and popularity of the brand and its products skywards. 

Hermès has gone on to produce countless notable bags and models. The Hermès Birkin and Kelly bags are particularly prominent names that stand out in the brand story, backed by the stories which elevate them well above simple bags. The Kelly, for example, was launched under a different name but was renamed as a result of actress and Princess of Monaco Grace Kelly using the bag to disguise her baby bump. The Birkin was released as a result of Jane Birkin’s specific requests as a new mother, when she met Hermès’ CEO on a flight. 

These two bags have become status symbols as well as luxury must-haves – regardless of what they are made from. However, some new materials have been making headlines – and it’s not hard to see why. 

Introducing Hermès’ most innovative materials

Have you ever considered a handbag that’s made from mushrooms? Well, this is the ideology that’s at the heart of Hermès’ latest material. 

Hermès has been experimenting with bio-fabrics which use materials made from fungus and other organisms to produce a texture and finish which is similar to leather but derived and made using a much more sustainable methodology. Other products that have been tested include pineapples, grapes, cactus plants, and apples – all vegan alternatives which would open Hermès and its handbags to a whole new market.

Bio-fabrics are being considered not just as an alternative to animal skin but also as an alternative to plastic which takes centuries to biodegrade and can be just as harmful for the environment as the original animal skin and leather. 

How Hermès responds to changing trends

This isn’t just about the changing trends that we see across the style and accessories market. It’s as much about the roll of sustainability, environmental trends, and how products are made, as it is about the way that luxury products look.

Hermès has, for example, embraced new materials in such a way as to hint at a reduction in the use of exotic skins – following in the footsteps of brands like Chanel which are already embracing greener and more sustainable alternatives. As well as this, Hermès has embraced changes in its manufacturing approach to support economical and sustainable objectives as outlined on the brand’s own site, including operating within international boundaries and eco-guidelines, and supporting artisan creators from all walks of life. 

The world is changing – and it expects brands like Hermès and other designer names to change with it. The rise of innovative materials is just one way that Hermès is changing the conversation and placing emphasis on eco-friendly and sustainable manufacturing techniques.

Find out more about your favourite Hermès collections and whether there are sustainable materials available by reaching out to your local boutique reseller. 

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