The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0

February 27, 2011

How Luxury is Made – A Visit to the Hermès Festival des Métiers

Filed under: shopping — Tags: , , — Brian Lutz @ 1:14 am

Although I’ve never been particularly good at dressing the part, it seems that I live in a rather fashionable neighborhood these days.  With next-door neighbors with names like Louis Vutton, Jimmy Choo and Salvatore Ferragmo, I figured from day one when I moved into this place that I’ve never had much chance of keeping up, and an offhand trip to Neiman-Marcus while killing some time one day pretty much confirmed that I’ve got a long way to go before I can afford any of this stuff.  Actually that’s not true;  I can probably find a few things at some of these shops that I could afford if I was to eliminate some unnecessary expenses like food and electricity.  Sure I’d starve in the dark, but at least I’d look really snappy while I was doing it, right?

Although I’m (currently) not part of the intended audience for the really high-end stuff you’ll find around here, it’s clear that someone is, as the Bravern hosts a number of high-end stures you won’t find anywhere else in the Seattle area, one of which is the only Hermès boutique in the Pacific Northwest.  Normally, I wouldn’t have any particular reason to go anywhere near the place, but during the past week they have been hosting an event in an unoccupied store space at the Bravern called the Festival des Métiers (which translates to “Festival of Crafts.”  In essence, this event (for which Seattle is the first stop on what is expected to be a worldwide tour, with stops in Chicago and Washington DC to follow this one) is a chance for them to bring some of their master craftsmen (and women) out of the workshops in France to their customers to demonstrate their skills, and show how some of their most popular items are handmade.  Even though I seriously doubt I’ll ever buy any of these items, I’ve always had a keen interest in seeing how things are made (a marathon of the Science Channel’s How It’s Made show can easily cause me to spend a whole weekend on the couch without even noticing,) so yesterday I made the short trip over to the Bravern to check this out. 

There were a number of different craftspeople on hand demonstrating the making of shirts, ties, leather goods, watches, jewelry, and even saddles (which is where  Hermès got its start.)  Even with all the demonstrations on hand, the big attention-grabber seemed to be the demonstration of how Hermès famous silk scarves are screenprinted, aided no doubt by the two charming French men performing the printing and providing an interesting commentary on the process.  After the jump, you will find a number of additional photos of this process, along with some facts that I picked up along the way.  I don’t think I’m going to be rushing out and buying any of this stuff anytime soon, but I will say that this might be the first time that I’ve ever found myself thinking that such high-end luxury goods might not entirely be a waste of money.  If nothing else, I can certainly see where the high prices come from, and can appreciate the effort that goes into making such goods by hand. 

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