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Note on the connections between ESCP and Hermès

Today Hermès is regarded as a global ambassador of French luxury. The history of this family-run business is a long one, dating back to 1837 when Thierry Hermès opened a small boutique in Paris as a master harness-maker and saddler.

Thierry Hermès's Trade

His trade consisted in designing and manufacturing harnesses and other riding gear, which he then sold in his shop. Although the firm’s early days were humble, it became famous some thirty years later when it was awarded a first-class medal at the Paris World Fair. From that time on, world leaders became the company’s customers, such as Tsar Nicolas II, who placed orders for equipment for his horses from 1860 onwards.

The contribution of ESCP

ESCP contributed indirectly to exporting Hermès in the second part of the nineteenth century. In spring 1877, Pedro II, the Emperor of Brazil , made his second trip to France. On that occasion, he visited some important institutions like the Institut de France and the Sorbonne, before meeting the writer Victor Hugo in person. A few days later, in May 1877, Pedro II made a request to see the programs of the École Supérieure de Commerce de Paris and during an audience with the dean, Paul Schwaeblé, expressed the wish to visit the school.1 On that occasion, he met a final-year Brazilian student called Alfredo Ayulo. During their discussions, the Emperor expressed the desire to see the Parisian goods he was fond of sold in his own country. Alfredo Ayulo did not forget the Emperor’s wish and a few months later, after graduating in July 1877, he worked for Hermès. He exported their products to Brazil from 1880 onwards. Did Pedro II benefit from Hermès’ expertise in his own country, as he had wished? The answer to that question is far from certain, as the sovereign, who was ill, left his country to recover in Europe before being deposed in 1889. A Francophile, he died in Paris in 1891.

ESCP and the Latin America Continent

This anecdote illustrates the school’s international reach in Latin America as early as the nineteenth century. This reach was already longstanding, as Amédée Brodart, the school’s co-founder, had opened the Academy of Accounting in Buenos Aires in 1825, which was modelled on the school in Paris.

1 Sources: “Minutes of the administrative committee meeting of the École Supérieure de Commerce de Paris; session of 12 May 1877”, p.297. Archives of ESCP. “Minutes of the administrative committee meeting of the École Supérieure de Commerce de Paris, session of 20 December 1879”, p.342. Archives of ESCP.