Zhanar will come up with clever text or Karina... Definitely not Darina
WITH HUMOUR
AND EASE

IN 1987, CHRISTOPHE GOINEAU JOINED HERMÈS AT THE AGE OF 21. AFTER MANY YEARS AS MEN'S SILK COLLECTION MANAGER, WHERE HE DEVELOPED THE TIE COLLECTIONS AND EXTENDED THE TEXTILES ACCESSORIES' COLLECTION, HE BECAME CREATION DIRECTOR OF MEN'S SILK IN 2011. ETAGE TEAM TALKED TO CHRISTOPHE ABOUT HUMOUR, TECHNOLOGIES AND SPIRIT IN FASHION.
Christophe Goineau
- Can you tell us how you came to work at Hermès?

By chance! When I first joined the company I was doing a training for a business school. Then they offered me to stay a few months, and at that time I wasn't sure what I wanted to do. Now, after over two decades I know what I like to do! I enjoy making products that bring people happiness!

- You said: "The spirit of Hermès is to create timeless objects". What makes Hermes style special?

Style is completely mixed up with quality, and sometimes quality makes style very special. One very important fact is that our style is in constant evolution, but never in revolution. We trust and believe that the past (the beautiful archives) could be the best base for the future. We also think that there is no amnesic creation. For us, timeless means contemporary objects that you want to keep for a while.

- You've been making menswear for nearly 30 years. So, who is the typical Hermès man?

It's a very hard question, for me there is not one particular, but many kinds of Hermes Men. But definitely, it's someone who loves beautiful products that last long and that are close to his personality. A man that loves comfort and discretion, with a strong character, following his own way.

- In recent years the idea of entertainment and irony are read between the lines in Hermès works and projects. How do you manage to continuously innovate on classics and timeless collections and create something conceptually new?

It is not hard to manage, this is in the DNA of the house, when you spend so many hours on details that nobody will notice at first, you are a bit like a child hiding a secret love letter in his homework. And believe me, sometimes it is not serious at all to reach perfection. You have to be modest, and humour helps you!
- If we talk about digital technologies, Hermes has two mobile applications for men and women. What was the inspiration behind the "Tie Break" app?

In fact, this is connected to the way people see and buy ties today. Wearing a tie is now a pleasure, and not anymore an obligation. This difference is fundamental. So, in a way, it is more of a fashion accessory and a "hot product" today than 10 years ago. The tie has become more personal, more a matter of individual choice; it expresses the real personality of its owner. People enjoy buying ties now, they play and find that fun. The richness of our collections and the creativity of Hermès patterns, prints and shapes are essential. Fabrics can also bring new effects and combinations (knitted, woven cotton & silk, façonnée…). In "Tie break" we have tried to keep that spirit.

- We can see an unobtrusive connection between responsibility of the business world and the immediacy and easiness. What is the target audience of "Tie Break"?

"Tie Break" is a gift for our clients. We tried to express the feelings of our customers, and that was our target. The goal was to create something fun that could at the same time show the richness of the collection and the humor behind it.
The audience is really the people that very much like this specific way of thinking, living either in LA, Tokyo, Astana or Lisboa.

- MANifeste (The Hermes lifestyle webpage – Étage) is a man, a list, a twist. Hermès has turned the notion of classics upside down, bringing a new fresh breath. What else do you mean by "list and twist"?

Don't be so serious; enjoy the colour of a pink tie, a blue and yellow scarf. Reveal and set free your fantasy, life is about discovery, surprises, humor with the Hermès touch. It is a very positive attitude!
- Men's world is complicated and dynamic. What can you offer to let them continue to rule their lives?

We can offer the best quality, the best service and the best elegance. But the most important thing is, certainly, to bring them joy when wearing our products. Our mission is to bring happiness and comfort.

- People say: "Men love by their eyes". It is a fact or a stereotype?

For me, it is a stereotype, especially at Hermès, where you can fully feel the smell, the touch, the view, even hear the sound of silk. Taste is the only sense that is missing.

- Men and accessories sometimes go different ways. There is some kind of a contentious relationship: ties are worn as a part of the dress code, and scarves are often not accepted. Have you managed to introduce love for details among men?

The good news is that men are buying now for themselves, and that makes a big difference. They now enjoy and learn quickly what they like or not. They follow different advice they get, but not 100%. They are creating their own rules and they like to change them more often. More and more, they can feel and appreciate small details.

- Has your own philosophy changed after years of working here?

Yes, of course, I like to think about fashion that "classic is modern, modern is classic".
But also, as for my professional life, working for a company that is a supplier before being a retailer makes a strong difference in comparison to competitors. Hermès likes to produce beautiful things, and then they find their clients. This is quite different to making what people want.

As for my personal life, trying to reach the best quality ever is something valuable. When you enjoy a product for many years, it is a real pleasure, especially in a world of immediacy and easiness, where a lot of products are disposable.

Let me just tell you in "off" that I spent a few weeks in Kazakhstan and really enjoyed this beautiful country, where people are so kind. And, of course, when you work for Hermès you are very inspired by a country where horses are so present in the culture. É
Interview: Étage Group
Photographer: Walter Pfeiffer
Date: November, 2015