What is Parisian male chic? When it comes to dressing like the French, chances are the answer is already there in your wardrobe.
According to sixth generation member of the Hermès family Guilluame De Seynes, a gentleman can't go past a quality navy blazer and signature belt to lean on time and again.
"Every six months I realise that among my wardrobe I still like to wear two or three of the same pieces and the same goes for my ties," says de Seynes, who was in Melbourne last week to launch the Hermès at Work exhibition.
"My best advice to men is to be more selective and go for real quality."
Success tied up
Historically Hermès has best been known for its craftsmanship of leather goods and handbags, but it's men's ties that are turning huge profits for the majority-owned, family run business.
More than 600,000 ties were sold globally last year, and while Hermès is not big on logos, it's the H belt that continues to be a best seller and keenly copied in the counterfeit market.
"We have been successful over many years in selling ties and even though men are dressing more casually these days, this is still a significant part of our business covering the classic to narrow ties for the younger man," explains De Seynes.
Inheriting the past
Founded by his maternal great grandfather Thierry Hermès, De Seynes managed to clock up more than 15 years corporate business experience before joining the family company.
"Being in charge of a family business with my cousins is always about continuing the legacy and pass it to the next generation," says De Seynes.
"We received this fabulous company from the hard work of previous generations that we have known from my grandfather [who died six years before he was born], uncle and my mother. They did well and our challenge is to keep up and continue growing the company," says De Seynes, whose own father ran the fragrance side of the business for 25 years.
But with that comes a new set of challenges that previous generations didn't face.
"We have new challenges in the world today from the changing habits of consumers, changes in the media and the rise of digital," says De Seynes.
Behind the curtain
Wrapping up this weekend, Hermès At Work is a free exhibition at Melbourne Town Hall where consumers can meet the artisan and makers behind the Hermès collection of belts, silk scarves and ties. Some of those flown over from Paris have worked with the company for 30 years.
"The purpose of the exhibition is to unveil what is behind the Hermès product," he says.
"Every craftsman has a translator with him or her to encourage the dialogue with the visitors and the questions they might want to ask. Talking to them you will sense they are proud of what they do and have a lot of product knowledge. We want to show that there is an everyday realness to Hermès." says De Seynes.
The Hermès signature
For the past 30 years, menswear designer Véronique Nichanian remains at the helm driving its ready to wear collection. She came to the French fashion house after 12 years working with Italian couturier Nino Cerruti.
"Our menswear business is getting stronger because it targets men who are casual – in that they want a lot of sports casual and knitwear looks but also keen on having a nice signature piece where quality is important and you can wear for several years," says De Seynes.
"Veronique always says she is not designing fashion but designing clothes – she is all about creating a long-lasting quality in knitwear and sport jackets because it's part of Hermès and our heritage."