Craft work— Paris


Hermès is one of the most recognised fashion houses in the world. But as a family-run business with a focus on craft, the current men in charge prefer to manage by looking inwards rather than chasing markets.

Axel Dumas, Pierre-Alexis Dumas, Thierry Hermès

“This is not a company, it’s a house. And one that has protected me since I was a very young man,” says Pierre-Alexis Dumas, artistic director of Hermès and the sixth generation of family owners. His office does indeed feel more like a fashionable studio apartment than the nerve centre of one of the most recognisable brands in fashion, the walls dotted with contemporary paintings and tear sheets. He’s sitting swaddled in a cashmere-felt blanket at a low table in the middle of the room as the in-house executive chef delivers us a breakfast of…

The Rules

Axel Dumas

  1. What time do you like to be at your desk?
    At 08.50. I never miss dropping my son off at school and he starts at 08.30.

  2. Describe your management style.
    I try to delegate as much as possible while focusing on making sure that everybody is aligned to our strategy. I talk a lot! Hopefully, to ensure that our values stay vibrant and not just a token to history.

  3. Are tough decisions best taken by one person?
    When someone stands to lose something, or when a choice is difficult, I feel it is better to do it oneself, rather than have someone else fall on the sword.

  4. Do you read management books?
    Yes and no. I dutifully buy management books, stock them next to my bedside table and eventually leave on holidays with novels or essays. I do read the ‘Harvard Business Review’.

Pierre-Alexis Dumas

  1. Where is the best place to prepare for leadership: an MBA school or on the job?
    Always look for mentors. Mine were Stanley Marcus, Jean-Louis Dumas, Joseph Ettedgui and many more.

  2. Describe your management style. Hands-on.

  3. Would you prefer to be liked or respected?
    I see myself as a dream-catcher.

  4. What does your support team look like?
    The Dream Team.

  5. What would your key management advice be?
    Always surround yourself with people greater than yourself.


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