Cashmere Connection

Threads

How Kriegsman Luxury Outerwear makes
bespoke coats from the world’s finest fabrics

By Waynette Goodson

Established in 1924, Loro Piana is the largest and finest manufacturer of cashmere in the Western world. The precious fibers come from hircus goats in the mountains of Northern China and Mongolia, where the luxury Italian fashion brand has offices in Beijing, Hong Kong and Ulaanbaater.

Once a year in the spring, goat herders harvest the animals’ underfleece through a harmless combing process. Each goat yields about 250 grams (9 ounces) of the underfleece, but after the coarser outer fibers are removed, only about half remains — which is why it’s so precious. Most all materials then go to workshops in Italy, where craftsmen still make most of the garments by hand.

And a select few merchants outside this rarified circle are allowed to receive bolts of this exceptional fabric — including Kriegsman Luxury Outerwear of Greensboro.

“When we went to buy Loro Piana, they vetted us,” owner David Kriegsman recalls. “Then when we got it in, we asked for the labels, and they vetted us again. Just having the rights to purchase the fabric is a feather in our cap. They don’t just sell it to anyone.”

And Kriegsman isn’t just anyone. 

“We are furriers,” he explains. “And that’s what we’ve done for eighty-eight years. My father was a furrier, and my grandfather, and my grandmother, and my uncle. This is what they did in the Old Country —Austria. We’ve sold cashmere and fine woolens for at least thirty-five years.”

In 2008, the recession hit, and Kriegsman decided he didn’t want to lay off anyone from his venerable store, which has stood at 502 East Cornwallis Drive for thirty years.

“My thought was to make better cloth coats,” he recalls. “I’m not in competition with the department stores. I can’t make a coat for $250 like they make in China. So we started making cashmere garments, and the next thing I know, we started buying cashmere from Loro Piana, who makes the finest fabrics in the world, period.”

The store’s chief designer, Stanka Ivanova, hails from Bulgaria. An accomplished artist, she creates garments in a wide range of materials, from fur to leather and from fine wool to cashmere — and all combinations — for women and men. You’ll find the atelier behind their showrooms is full of the machinery to design and make these special garments. Cold storage vaults on the premises contain thousands of furs during the hot summer months.

“About 80 percent of the garments we make for customers are custom created,” Ivanova says. “We make about one-third of all our inventory ourselves. We create hand-stitched garments the way they should be done. It’s not just bing, bam, boom.”

Longtime Greensboro resident Edith Griffin remembers the day she decided she had to have a navy blue leather suit made. “David showed me all the leather samples and gave me the timing,” she says. “I was so excited about it! They commented on how wonderful it looked on me and made me feel so special.”

Griffin has shopped at the store for three decades and collected many favorites along the way, such as a custom silk dupioni dress and a black cashmere coat. “They’re so patient and understanding,” she says of the crew at Kriegsman. “I go there when I have some downtime, and I try on the furs, jackets and sweaters, and now they even sell handbags. I have to get one of those, too!”

Mention the word “Kriegsman” to Armando Dunn, and he starts rattling off dearly beloved purchases: “Three cashmere coats, two trimmed with chinchilla and one with mink; a full-length otter; a mink and cashmere blend fabric lined with nutria. A German shearling. For this season, I’m going with fox.”

Dunn splits his time between High Point and New York, where he enjoys wearing his favorite item, a sheared black, full-length mink coat, perfect for formal black tie attire at the opera.

“It’s very difficult, about impossible, to find someone who makes furs for men,” Dunn explains. “The only other person is Tom Ford, at about $40,000 for anything.”

And that’s the magic behind Kriegsman. “No one else does this like we do,” he says. “There are just two furriers in the state. If you research you’ll find there are few people in the whole country that make bespoke, custom-made Loro Piana cashmere coats. It’s a very small number, and virtually no one in the South does this. There’s no one like us in the state, and that’s our story.”  OH

When she’s not dreaming of cashmere and furs, Waynette Goodson pushes a pen for Casual Living as the editor in chief. 

Old Is New Again

Tired of that dusty old stole buried in your closet? Let Kriegsman Luxury Outerwear Store turn it into something new and now.

“’We had a girl in high school bring in her grandmother’s fur, a graduation gift, and we used it to design a contemporary leather-and-fur vest,” says owner David Kriegsman.

On another occasion, a hunter brought in a deer skin, which also became a vest; the front with deer and the back with cashmere. “We work with everyone from a young graduate to a man who will wear his vest on his Harley,” Kriegsman says.

Furs restyled to create bed throws or even stool covers? That, too!

Kriegsman Luxury Outerwear is a hidden gem at 502 East Cornwallis Drive, in the same shopping center as La Bamba Mexican restaurant. Be sure to allocate plenty of time to peruse the shelves, chock-full of much more than just coats. Think real cashmere pashminas, leather gloves, hats, belts, cashmere/silk/woolen scarves, mink key charms and flower pins, and a wide selection of handbags, such as the very sculptural and modern German label, Olbrish. kriegsmanfurs.com

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