Hermès eager to tackle affluent Austin market

Hermès International SA, a French luxury fashion designer and retailer that has had its Birkin handbags put up as an investment that rivaled gold and the S&P 500, is opening a brick-and-mortar shop on Austin’s hip South Congress Avenue.

The 7,600-square-foot store at 1221 S. Congress Ave. will open on April 30. This will be the third Hermès store in Texas — the other two are in Dallas’ Highland Park Village and Houston’s River Oaks District.

Austin has been welcoming more luxury brand names, such as the recent first-to-market Gucci, Hublot and Saint Laurent stores in The Domain neighborhood in North Austin. During South by Southwest, Atelier Beauté Chanel opened a month-long pop-up store in the Music Lane development on South Congress.

The design of the Hermès store draws on a blend of the Texas desert landscape and Austin’s urban streetscape. The company used the Parisian architecture agency RDAI. The architecture firm has handled many global Hermès stores, including in Amsterdam, New York, Vancouver, Milan, Beijing, London, Miami and elsewhere. This was RDAI’s first project in Austin, according to its website.

Two Austin-based artists, Sophie Roach and Laura Lit, designed the colorful storefront for Hermès.

Austin’s two-story Hermès store will offer products from perfumes to jewelry, watch collections to leather goods and more.

Robert Chavez, president and CEO of Hermès of Paris USA, said via email that this store intends to add to the “eclectic mix” of South Congress retailers. The strip of stores, which is just south of downtown, has long been known as a bastion for local shops that keep Austin weird, such as costume store Lucy In Disguise.

A peek at South Congress Avenue, what some now call “SoCo.”

“Austin has been growing at an accelerated rate the past few years,” said Chavez, who was born in San Antonio and has been CEO of the U.S. subsidiary of Hermès since 2000. “This growth continues, and having planned our store here the past three years, we felt 2022 was the right moment.”

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