March 13, 2018
By Noelani Piters
HOW TO SPOT A REAL HERMÈS SCARFSHOP HERMÈS SCARVES
It’s not every day you come across a masterpiece, let alone one that you can wear. With the heritage house of Hermès, it’s their business to combine expert craftsmanship with the highest caliber of artistry, and no luxury product encapsulates this marriage of form and function better than the iconic Hermès scarf.
Based on a woodblock drawing by Hermès family member Robert Dumas, the scarf made its first appearance in 1937. And though all Hermès scarves are produced in Lyon, France, this signature piece is an international effort, with the atelier hiring people from across the globe to create their designs. Past artists have included Rei Kawakubo, a postmaster in Texas, a children’s book illustrator and many other types of talented individuals.
If you thought a Birkin took a monumental amount of time to produce, think again. It takes approximately 18 months for Hermès to create a scarf from start to finish. Artisans spend six months determining the final color palette for a design, and engravers work an average of 750 hours to finalize the screens for each piece.
Though you’re likely in awe of the dedication and intense artisanship that go into an Hermès scarf, there’s nothing more devastating than discovering your essential accessory is, in fact, counterfeit. Read on for Chief Authenticator Graham Wetzbarger’s expert tips on spotting the real deal.
Hermès Scarf Construction
The classic Hermès scarf is produced in two size variations — 70 x 70 cm and the traditional 90 x 90 cm version (in addition to the 45 x 45 cm pocket square and the 120 x 120 cm shawl) — and has delicate rolled edges.
“The edges of each scarf are rolled by hand and stitched in place by artisans who exclusively sew scarves,” explains Wetzbarger. “It’s a very time-consuming process to get the edges perfectly aligned and matched.” Due to the painstaking nature of this process, one artisan may only roll the edges of seven scarves in a single day. “If you see a machine-stitched edge, an overlock stitch or anything besides a hand-rolled edge,” adds Wetzbarger, “it’s an indicator that the item is counterfeit.”
Hermès Scarf Materials
It should come as no surprise that Hermès uses only the finest materials for their scarves, like any luxury item they create. “The house of Hermès looms their own silk,” notes Wetzbarger. “It’s twice the weight of other silks on the market.”
Hermès scarves are woven in a tight twill, which holds its shape and doesn’t collapse on itself like lightweight silks will. This allows the scarf to be pulled, styled, knotted and so on while maintaining its perfect square shape. “Always feel the material, and pull on it side to side,” says Wetzbarger. “It should almost snap back to its original shape. It shouldn’t stretch out.”
The fabric tag, which will be sewn onto the scarf’s bottom corner, will read “Made In France” and should always be 100% silk (or soie, the French word for silk). People will often remove the label, however, so the lack of a fabric tag does not indicate that a scarf is counterfeit. “Even though they’ve changed over the years, familiarize yourself with the Hermès tags,” says Wetzbarger. “A tag that’s too large, bright orange, stitched only at the corners or says polyester is inauthentic.”
Hermès Scarf Brand Identifiers
When examining an Hermès scarf, make sure to look out for the scarf’s title and the artist signature. “Artists traditionally sign their names discreetly in the corner of the scarf,” says Wetzbarger. “The title of the scarf is usually incorporated into the design as well, though it can be well-camouflaged and difficult to spot in some of the more abstract designs.” All current designs feature the title as a design element, but older scarves may not include it.
Another crucial authentication component to search for: the Hermès name beside a copyright symbol. “These can be very subtle,” notes Wetzbarger. “I’ve seen Hermès and the accompanying copyright symbol incorporated into the texture of a sea anemone or cobblestone road, for example. But it will be there on every contemporary scarf.”
Scarves are screen-printed by hand, and artisans use a separate screen for each color. A design can have upwards of thirty-two colors per design, which the artisans will test for months to reach the perfect palette. “If an Hermès scarf has only four or five colors, that’s a glaring red flag,” says Wetzbarger. Also, look closely at any imperfections in how the coloring is executed; if there is any unintentional negative space or accidental overlap when printing the design, Hermès destroys the scarf.