My grandparents emigrated from Greece in the 1920’s. Many of the immigrants came here with little material wealth and set out to make a life for themselves. A good number many started their own businesses.
To this day, there are certain businesses that historically are run by owners of Greek descent. The fur business is one of them. My own grandfather used to be a furrier who worked for Christie Brothers and then Morgenstern Brothers. While those furriers are no longer in business, one name that has had staying power is the Pologeorgis family.
Nick Pologeorgis runs the company which was started by his father Stanley in Manhattan’s Fashion District. His furs are beautiful, being showcased in his showroom as well as many top name department stores. I recently spoke with Nick about the history and current state of the fur business…
Tell me how your family got into the fur business?
NP: Pologeorgis Furs was started in 1960 by my father, Stanley Pologeorgis. He started as a workman in the factory making furs by hand and learning all aspects of the fur business. After founding his own firm, he saw an opportunity to increase the business by forging relationships with designers. He was the first to do this in the industry. The first designer collection was with Pierre Balmain in the 1970s. Since then many prestigious labels have been added such as Michael Kors (for over 20 seasons), Zandra Rhodes, Ralph Rucci, and Zac Posen. Most recently we have worked with Derek Lam and Monique Lhuillier.
When did you get involved and take over the business?
NP: I took over the company from my father in the late 1980’s after graduating from Boston University with a degree in Finance. In 1989, my sister Joan Pologeorgis joined the firm after graduating from The Fashion Institute of Technology. She now heads up all of production!
Tell me how you source your pelts for your furs?
NP: I travel all over the world to source pelts. I go directly to the auction houses to bid on the goods that they have inspected. The best mink come from North America/Canada while for fox, it’s Scandinavia. The most beautiful and highest quality of Sables come from Russia. Shearlings come from Spain and also New Zealand
Where are your furs made?
NP: Pologeorgis has an onsite factory here in Manhattan. We have two floors with designers, cutters, sewers and hand finishers. Our showroom is also here with easy access to the factory. We are very proud that the majority of our styles are hand made in New York City. Each of the garments takes weeks to make by a team of highly skilled craftsman. We inspect each item carefully before adding our Pologeorgis signature label.
Who comes up with the designs?
NP: We’ve built a team of talented designers who work on the Pologeorgis Collection.
Who are your biggest customers?
NP: We work very closely with the best department stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus. We also sell our accessories line to Barneys and Bergdorf Goodman as well as specialty boutiques. We have distribution all over the world, selling well in Europe and Russia. We also offer a private client experience here at our showroom by appointment. We present the collection to the client who can work with existing styles and build her own custom garment. Our designers are on hand to take measurements and customize all aspects from the type of fur to the lining and monogram. It is truly a bespoke experience. We have a huge selection of furs in our vault and the customer can select the exact pelts they want. We also offer a remodel service where a client can bring in an older style or vintage piece and we can remake into a more modern style.
I’ve noticed that Pologeorgis coats have become more trendy, more edgy. Can you tell me about the current line?
NP: We have a mix of styles here which are trendy and edgy for the current collection which is available online at ( www.Pologeorgis.com). We thought about the way that women dress and we made a collection modern for a stylish and busy woman. We hoped to make the perfect fur piece to effortlessly throw on and make any outfit. Also we do not simply aspire to be trendy or of the moment we also want to offer classics that the client will enjoy for years to come such as the perfect mink vest and the most timeless mink jacket
We have some amazing military inspired fur lined parkas with fox patchwork and Mongolian lamb. We have an amazing long haired goat coat in a multitude of shades which would be at home on any Runway! A favorite for the season is a lightweight fox vest which can be zipped off to make a short one. It also folds up compactly up travel! We saw a need for chic evening pieces and we offer a great fur shrug in black and white which is $650.
What trends to you see in Fur?
NP: There are so many new and innovative techniques in furs. We can make them so lightweight now by stripping with leather or fabric. We can make garments reversible to suede, leather or fabric. We are developing furs with unique elements such as metallic shines and hand painting. We always strive to make the styles not only beautiful but wearable.
How is social media affecting your brand?
NP: Social media is clearly a great vehicle for highlighting the newest styles we offer, and we’ve become very involved over the past several years. We did an amazing photo shoot this season and we are thrilled to share those images on social. We love to work with influencers who love fur – so many have great individual styles and show how fur can be worn in different ways. We are slowly building an authentic fan base who interact with us and let us know how we are doing! It is a great way to reach a global audience.
What is next for Pologeorgis?
NP: We are promoting our new collection online www.pologeorgis.com We have a great selection from Couture to Collection Classics. Not only do we offer an exquisite hand painted sable by Ralph Rucci, we offer a selection of affordable accessories in all different price ranges. It is exciting to be able to Offer so many options to our clients. We are also expanding our Home Collection – We have worked with top interior designers for years and now the secret is out. We are offering custom made blankets and pillows in a variety of furs from mink to coyote to sable. Every home deserves a touch of luxury, wherever you live in a loft in Manhattan or a ski home in Aspen we have the perfect fur accent for your home.
For more on Nick and POLOGEORGIS, visit: POLOGEORGIS.com or follow along on social at @POLOGEORGIS!