A Readers' Choice nominee in the Best Leather Goods Category, Hermes has come a long way since its inception nearly two centuries ago. The company was founded by a Frenchman named Thierry Hermes in 1837 as a maker of harnesses and bridles. Since then, it has grown into one of the world's most sought-after luxury brands; customers have ranged from Humphrey Bogart to Paris Hilton.
Hermes is known for leather goods like the Kelly bag and Constance bag, favored by actress Grace Kelly and former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Like all Hermes products, these bags are made by hand without assembly lines; only one craftsman may work on a bag at a time.
The Birkin bag, which takes its name from actress Jane Birkin, is perhaps the most coveted of them all. Made from exotic animal skins and adorned with hardware hewn from precious metals, these bags boast waiting lists in excess of two years and price tags starting at $5000. A one-of-a-kind pink crocodile Birkin fetched $140,000 in 2007.
Hermes peddles its goods through boutiques sprinkled throughout posh U.S. enclaves like New York, East Hampton, Palm Beach and Beverly Hills. Based in Paris, the company continues to expand abroad into lucrative developing markets such as China. In a nod to its heritage, Hermes still offers equestrian paraphernalia.
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Gallery: More from Hermes