Hermine’s Story. Once a Bespoke Sewing Studio, has now Blossomed into a Fully-fledged Fashion Brand
Hermine Khalaf Pogosyan’s work includes perhaps everything that can be at least partially sewn on a sewing machine. She is continuously seeking to elevate her work to the next level, mainly through attention to detail and high standards in her quality of work. To showcase her craft to the world, she decided to specialize in women’s costumes, jackets and coats where every detail counts. Her clientele quickly started to take notice of the difference in quality between Hermine’s sewing and the commonly accepted standards, thus the portfolio was expanded to include dresses and gowns. Among that which is usually invisible to the layman’s eye is the technique and quality of the sewing and style with which decorations are created. Imagine discovering all of the above for yourself after your first visit to the new Hermine Khalaf Pogosyan studio.
Your name suggests that you are not from the Czech Republic, where do you come from?
I was born in Armenia but my parents moved to the Czech Republic when I was 5 years old.
When did you realize you wanted to become a fashion designer?
In my childhood, in fact. My parents always pushed me to study and acquire different types of skills, but one topic in particular was omnipresent regardless of where I was – garments. Sewing and knitting is something of a ubiquitous craft in Armenia. My grandmother from my mother’s side loves to knit and has been doing so for as long as I can remember. She does it so seamlessly and beautifully that I was always amazed by the types of things she would knit for us. My auntie can weave the most complex patterns with the same grace, creating the most astonishing tablecloths.
My mother would regularly sew new clothes for us and herself when she had the time. This craft holds a very dear place in my heart; whenever I sew I carry this legacy on and try to make my family proud. Also, when growing up, I was exposed to all types of fine arts from rigorous painting lessons to studying competition-level piano playing. So when facing whether to study fashion design or something else entirely, it was kind
of a no-brainer for me.
So you attended design school?
Yes, I studied at the design school in Holešovice in Prague, the Czech Republic. The truth is that I did not finish my studies there.
Czechia’s education system is very outdated. I realized early on at the said school that I have a very different approach to how sewing and design should be taught and as soon as I came to this conclusion I took the necessary steps in the right direction. This was when they gave us a list of fashi-on chains where we could do our internships as shop assistants. Basically, this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I disagreed so strongly that I put an end to my studies there. Instead, I decided to focus on improving my sewing skills to a point where even the seams that are not visible are sewn to be perfectly accurate and straight. I am a perfectionist like my dad, and I do not make any compromises.
So does that mean that you have officially only acquired elementary education?
Officially, yes. But there is so much more to becoming a fashion designer and/or a good seamstress then formal education. I spent a lot of my time after school learning fashion design and improving my sewing skills with a very hands-on approach. My Armenian uncles, who ran a tailored clothing shop, took me in and I spent a decent amount of time working side-by-side with adult seamstresses, observing their craft, learning from them. Thanks to them I gained valuable experience and skills which I tap into almost daily even to this day. I then lived for a couple of years in the city of Krasnodar in Russia where the tailored clothing mentality also gave me a lot of new insight into how clients are supposed to be treated and communicated with. In the end, I returned to the Czech Republic.
And established your own brand?
Not right away, no. After my return, it took me about a year and a half before the Hermine Khalaf Pogosyan brand was founded.
There were several reasons for establishing my own brand. One of them was the experience with leading Czech designers, for whom I worked for 3 months as a seamstress. I saw many mistakes being made and certain practices that in my opinion had no place in this industry. It was roughly at that time that I also became a sewing instructor for the Burda magazine for a season. I was busier by the day. Before I knew it I was neck deep in work constantly sewing something; bespoke orders, presentations, preparing lesson plans, delivering courses, you name it. Although I was only accepting tailored sewing orders, the work was quickly piling up. When my husband saw the sheer amount of clothes that I was sewing, at the time at home, next to him in the living room, with no advertising whatsoever, he saw great potential and set it all in motion.
What exactly should we imagine it is that you create as part of your work at your studio?
This is definitely a question for my husband because he enjoys answering it. When creating our website, he even used the sentence that, if asked, I would make a space suit for an astronaut. Basically, the more you master a craft, the more the obstacles are removed, and by working with my seamstresses on the design, construction and the final sewing of every piece, I am able to create almost anything my clients desire.
The truth is that our original bespoke sewing service has been expanded upon and, in addition to it, we offer a ready-to-wear collection and a collection of wedding and formal dresses that we manually embroider. The embroidery techniques that we apply to our dresses vary from standard to very time consuming techniques that are taught only in France; they are extremely demanding, lengthy and expensive to realize but the final pro-duct is always worth it. Thanks to this, we can guarantee our clients
a level of exclusivity that we have yet to come across in the Czech Republic. And all this at a very high level of quality. We spend a lot of time explaining this to our new clients as it is very important to us that they understand why the Hermine Khalaf Pogosyan brand exists in the first place. It is only after that that we start working out the specifics of the order itself.
Once you decide to place an order with us, first, you have to understand why and how the clothes are made here. It is important to get to know each other so that I can best serve you and so that you can decide if you want the clothes that I create, because for me it really isn’t a matter of what I create, but how I create it.
Who operates the business side of things and who do you dress?
The brand, which today dresses both famous actresses and singers as well as women of all ages across the Czech and Slovak Republics, is comprised of a team of 10 people. And spearheading the team is my husband Marsel and yours truly.
We are continually shattering the notion that married couples cannot work together; on the contrary, it is impossible for us to imagine working without each other. My husband is in charge of business development and marketing and I, with my team of seamstresses, take care of the artistic and production side of things, which includes designing collections, sewing and maintaining the quality of the craft. We both strongly believe that through hard work and dedication we can set a world class standard helping to educate our customers on how to approach quality in clothing, and why the Hermine Khalaf Pogosyan brand exists and what its legacy is.
We want people to perceive clothing, to perceive its seams and workmanship. At our first meeting we introduce our brand’s history to each client and proceed to carefully explain the functionality of the fabrics that we use, the benefits of each of the materials and how much they cost and why. We strive to be as transparent as possible, so we openly conduct a price analysis with our clients, so everyone knows exactly what they are paying for. It is important to us to set the rules and make sure our principles are understood from the get go.
The way we see it is that a good company is recognized by how it can solve problems that may occur from time to time. That is why we welcome every challenge because we can demonstrate to our clients and peers that
a customer can still leave not only satisfied but excited with our products and services, despite any mistakes on our part.
Where can we find you?
We are based in Vinohrady in Prague and are currently putting the finishing touches on HKP brand new premises. Until now, we have had to limit our order capacity to meet the high quality standards that we have set for ourselves, but with more space we definitely have a new opportunity to rectify that.
Kunětická 2, Praha 2
Tel.: +420 703 362 361