Nick Bowman-Scargill, Managing Director at Fears Watches, talks to us about his most loved brand and how it captured his heart.

Hermès is a very rare thing. A globally successful, instantly recognisable luxury brand, that is still fiercely and proudly independent. Though not owned entirely by the founding family, the way Hermès operates is very on its own, shunning industry trends. They have a clear DNA that transmits seamlessly across a wide range of product lines; leather goods, silks, apparel, homeware, perfume, watches etc.

The fact that most Hermès items only feature a very discreet rendition of the logo (the logo is not always the official logo and sometimes just the name written out simply) is testament to this powerful brand DNA. Interacting with the brand, in their beautifully curated stores, feels like stepping back in time to an unhurried world of true luxury. The staff, the scent, the way items are presented makes each and every item feel as though it is the best version of that particular type of product.

My first interaction with the brand was not with a store but rather with a product. It was a friend of my mother’s wristwatch that was shaped like the letter H. I thought it was such a whimsical design but didn’t know what it meant so asked her why it was that shape. She then explained that it was in reference to the brand’s name: Hermès, and then went on to say that it was the “last true luxury brand around”. At 12 years old it was the first time I realised that something could be even more luxurious and special when it doesn’t shout about who makes it. It whispers.

Hermes watch

There are several things that brands could learn from Hermès and not just brands operating in the luxury sector:

  • Independent thought – Hermès is incredibly good at ignoring industry trends and thereby staying consistent. This consistency builds strength and loyalty with its customers. This not only comes from the company structure and ownership but also from the brand having confidence in its own beliefs and pursing what it believes is the right course of action, whether it be design or how it treats its staff (who were globally on full pay throughout the pandemic despite not being able to work – they did the exact same during WWII when they closed their stores in Paris so as not to sell things to the occupying Nazis).
  • Stay true to your brand DNA – How does a Hermès item always look like it was made by Hermès? By the fact that they are not a one trick pony (pun intended). The power of the Hermès brand is by not just focusing on a colour or a shape or a material but rather focusing on an overall type of sophisticated elegance. By knowing what the overarching feel of the brand should be they are able to adapt and succeed in multiple different areas while staying relevant.
  • Avoid reliance on heritage – Though Hermès has an incredibly impressive and long heritage it only lightly touches on it. Rather than constantly reference it they instead use it to inspire what they make today. The focus is on the now and the above-mentioned strong brand DNA not on fickle and obvious touch points.
  • Craft! – Finally, craft. Why are Hermès items so expensive? Because they are made properly by the people who the brand says makes them (sadly a rarity in the luxury sector). The brand invests heavily on doing things properly and also in the way they say they do. This honesty is well known and the subtle “Made in France” stampings, or printings on items help remind the customer that they aren’t just buying a name, but instead are helping contribute to the training and employment of people who are experts at using their hands to make items that bring joy (which surely is what any item professing to be “luxury” should do).

The main thing that I have taken is that you can do things properly, with integrity and still be successful. By giving away that 2% margin and making things the way they should be made you can still become something significant in your sector.

Also, and this sounds like a cliché, by being independent and true to yourself, not following trends you can create a strong loyalty from the people who appreciate what you do.

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