I have long been a fan of Hermès silk scarves – worn inside a jacket perhaps, or tucked into a crewneck sweater – but it wasn’t until 2004 that the label created a scarf range especially for men. Then, in 2013, it introduced a larger size (100sq cm), followed by 140sq cm, and then a broadening range of designs each season.
“The scarf is becoming the new tie,” says Christophe Goineau, men’s silk creative director at Hermès. “It has a usefulness to it: it keeps you warm, but it’s also an easy way to change your look. And it can be casual or quite formal, depending on the way you wear it.”
This year, he says, the label has seen a particularly strong response around its collaboration with artist Nigel Peake, who was responsible for the Force Centrifuge design (£530, wool/silk, 140sq cm) for autumn/winter 2017. It draws inspiration from a bike mechanism, abstracting gears and chain into a colourful patchwork design.
Also popular is Flamboyant Web (£540, cashmere/silk, 100sq cm) by Japanese designer Daiske Nomura, which takes familiar Hermès design icons (a whip handle, a horse bit) and transforms them into something mechanical and futuristic. The finished scarf feels decidedly more masculine than traditional carrés.
Goineau has noticed that certain colours, notably vivid purple and turquoise blue, have been embraced by male customers and now help define the men’s scarves collection. Combine those with unique sizes, materials and designs, and it feels like men are becoming a real focus. “We are only at the beginning of the story here,” says Goineau.