© Kürschner via Wikimedia Commons

Made in Greece
Fur from Kastoria

The fur production in Kastoria began in the 14th century.

During the Ottoman Empire, the Guild of Furriers flourished in Istanbul, where many benefactors were revealed, with great contribution to the Patriarchate, such as Manolakis the Kastorian. As the fur was a necessary component for the Ottoman military uniforms and the clothes of the courtyard officials of the Sultans, the Kastorians who lived in Istanbul excelled and brought this art to Kastoria and Western Macedonia.

Fur processing in Kastoria was recognized in the 16th century, when the Kastorian furriers began to import the raw materials from abroad, process it by hand, produce fur and trade it throughout Europe. Furriery as trade developed centuries later, when furs attracted the European fashion industry and captivated the high society of the big cities, as it was established as a sign of elegance in a worldwide scale.

The fur industry reached its peak at the end of the Second World War due to the exclusive technique and the passion of furriers, the time when Kastoria was established as the fur processing center of Greece, and the only fur- processing center in Europe. Family fur businesses were working day and night on the projects, the selection of leather, and the procedures of trimming, cutting and sewing in order to meet the increased demand. The high quality of Kastorian fur soon became the trademark of the city, and experienced high demand from ladies of the high society and wealthy businessmen from America and Europe. The trading houses of Kastoria multiplied and the reputation of the Kastorian fur conquered the world.

The fur production and trading of Kastoria played an important role in the local society, as it contributed to the grand mansions that were built during that era, on the first floor of which worked for the famous “gounaradika” with a home production.

During the 1970s, the time when many fur companies were operating in Kastoria, started requesting manpower from all over Greece, in order to teach them the art of furriery. Through this way, the Kastorian furriery industry created jobs for tens of thousands of families in the prefecture of Kastoria and the city of Siatista. More than six thousands small and large fur companies were operating in Kastoria and worldwide by employing fifteen thousands workers! During these years, the Kastorians were among the first on the list with the higher per capita income, not only in Greece and Europe, but throughout the world. This is why that Kastorian fur artisans were among the most well-paid workers in the world who dressed women with their creations across America and Europe. Soon after, the Russian market also expressed a great interest in the Kastorian furs. A financial crash of the stock markets, and the devaluation of the Russian Rοuble, however, along with the emergence of the environmental movement in Europe, the global economic crisis and the rise of the Chinese markets brought a decline to the fur market of the city and hundreds of businesses closed over the years.

Some of the most recognized Kastorian fur traders include Emmanuel Manos the Kastorian, who was the president of the Guild of Furriers in Istanbul and built schools in the Istanbul Arta and Chios, Nicolaos Skoufas, trader of fur products and an active member of the Society of Friends, Panagiotis Papanaoum, an important fur dealer in Vienna who served as the Consul of Greece, and Zachos Christodoulos, a great benefactor of Kastoria’s schools and financier of the Cretan Revolution of 1866.

Since the international rules for the management and protection of the ecosystem have been established, the raw materials used in the fur industry of Kastoria solely derive from farms with strict operational standards. Secrets of the Kastorian art of fur have been inherited from generation to generation with respect to tradition, by maintaining its unique products and works of fine art in the international market. Although the mass production of furs in China has won the fur market, some of the best handmade furs are still produced in the laboratories of Kastoria. Today, Kastoria is one of the major processing and distribution fur manucturing centers worldwide that supply shops in Russia, the former Soviet Union, Dubai in United Arab Emirates as well as the Greek Islands.

It is worth mentioning that the 42nd International Fur Festival of Kastoria will take place from the 5th to the 7th of May 2017. It is an international event that gathers and curates the very best of Greek and International Fur Fashion Brands.

Photo Credits

A collection of fur sewing machines: Kürschner via Wikimedia Commons

A collection of fur sewing machines: Kürschner via Wikimedia Commons

A collection of fur sewing machines: Kürschner via Wikimedia Commons

Furrier tools in Kastoria: Kürschner via Wikimedia Commons

Gounarades: Ert.gr

Ledger of a wholesale fur trader: Kürschner via Wikimedia Commons

Ledger of the fur trader Dedo from Leipzig (1896): Collection Kuhn via Wikimedia Commons

One of the oldest fur sewing machines: Kürschner via Wikimedia Commons

Parts of the Kastorian furrier Andonis Dimou: Kürschner via Wikimedia Commons

Parts of the Kastorian furrier Andonis Dimou: Kürschner via Wikimedia Commons

Table with furrier and other handicrafts: Kürschner via Wikimedia Commons

The first fur sewing machine of Kastoria: Kürschner via Wikimedia Commons