Luxury Upcycling

Petit H Breathes New Life Into Hermès Scraps

A piece of leather that could’ve been a Birkin bag becomes a one-of-a-kind bracelet. Leftover silk from a scarf is transformed into a vibrant pair of shoelaces.

At Hermès, unused materials are not wasted. Instead, they become new accessories and trinkets under the house’s petit h label.

Petit h was launched in 2010 by Hermès’ former co-creative director Pascale Mussard, the great-great-great-granddaughter of founder Thierry Hermès. Instead of discarding materials that were rejected in the production of Hermès goods because of defects or being discontinued, Mussard wanted to create a new life for them.

“A shard of ceramic might become an earring, a leather panel, a paperweight in the form of a mushroom,” says Mark Recker, director of public relations for Hermès.

A petit h music box
A petit h music box.

Mussard served as creative director of petit h until 2018.Current creative director Godefroy de Virieu now leads the “cheeky younger sibling” to the storied luxury goods brand.

Once a designer for petit h, he now leads a team of designers who must find inspiration for new collections from the materials that are available to them.

“Petit h has been a creation in reverse since the starting point—there is no preconceived idea in the making process,” De Virieu says. “Skillful hands and clever minds manage to use our unused Hermès materials and improvise.”

De Virieu prefers to think of these extra materials as fragments that tell a story rather than just merely leftovers, and the designers’ focus is on functionality and longevity.

“[Petit h] writes a new story while keeping the DNA of the original material,” he says. “All materials have something to say if we know how to look at them.”

While the nature of this design process creates a form of exclusivity—each individual petit h object is unique in its shape, color, and pattern—it also has become a way for Hermès to prioritize sustainability.

Leather and porcelain landscape boxes.
Leather and porcelain landscape boxes

Petit h’s design process has essentially become a form of upcycling—taking discarded materials to create new products equally as high in quality. De Virieu says this stems from the house’s roots of creativity and respect for its materials.

“This is a common-sense response to the issue of sustainable development and the preservation of exceptional materials,” he says. “All materials are valuable, even those that are not used.”

As the issue of climate change becomes more critical, the fashion industry has been forced to acknowledge its environmental impact. Petit h could be a pioneer in the sustainable luxury fashion and goods world with its purposeful efforts to reduce waste.

“Looking at what’s happening in the world with environmental problems and sustainability challenges, we must approach these issues with creativity,” De Virieu says.

The reimagination of the Hermès materials results in a wide range of petit h goods. For fashion and accessories, there’s jewelry such as leather bracelets ($345) and silk earrings ($580), leather charms on silk cords ($220-$345), and a silk dress ($2,075). As for household goods, petit h has created a porcelain and crystal candle holder ($430), mirrors ($1,175-$1,350) and an aluminum and leather side table ($5,250).

“All the petit h objects are useful and can be used for a long time,” De Virieu says. Petit h’s collections are available online, but their permanent home is in Hermès’ Paris Sèvres boutique.

Another component of petit h is that each collection hits the road. Every year, the new collection travels to a new city and its set is designed by a local scenographer. This year’s collection is set to travel to Sydney in October after debuting at the Sèvres boutique in September.

A salt shaker made of leather and crystal.
A silk basketball net
A porcelain skateboard are all made from the luxury brand’s scraps

Photo Credit: Hermès-studio rouchon

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