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How the Dumas family, heirs to the $49.2 billion Hermès fortune, turned a leather store into a luxury empire and became one of the wealthiest families in the world

ERIC PIERMONT/AFP/Getty Images

Thierry Hermès, who was highly skilled with leather, opened a shop in Paris in 1837.

Thierry Herms, an orphan , was skilled with leather so skilled, in fact, that his main clients in the 19th century were royal families.

Six generations later, the Herms family and brand is now known for its exclusive Parisian fashion house and a $49.2 billion fortune .

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At the head of Herms, today are two cousins: Pierre-Alexis and Axel Dumas. Both are co-chairmen of the brand, Axel the CEO and Pierre-Alexis its creative director, whose father, Jean-Louis, revolutionized Herms from just selling perfectly crafted saddles to an international luxury retailer.

In the fashion industry, Herms is the ultimate status symbol: Its signature Birkin bag takes over 25 hours to make, costs up to six figures, and can be seen on the arms of celebrities and princesses.

Take a look at the history of Herms, and the family which is now one of the richest in the world that turned it into a fashion powerhouse.

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SEE ALSO: Meet Franois Pinault, the French billionaire who has a $1.2 billion art collection, owns Christie's, and founded Kering, the luxury giant behind Gucci and Balenciaga

SEE ALSO: Meet the Wertheimers, the secretive French brothers worth $42 billion who control Chanel, own vineyards in France and Napa Valley, and breed racehorses

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