Jerry Sorbara: Exclusive Interview

Jerry SorbaraWhen did you start your label?

In 1975.

How did you first establish yourself/find customers?

I was a designer for another firm for over 14 years, and I established a large “following”. When I decided to start my own business, my reputation, a little advertising, and plenty of customer recommendations went a long way.

How did you establish/when did you establish your relationship with Neiman Marcus?

Neiman Marcus had an appreciation for my talents with my previous employer. They have been a tremendous support for my company from inception, and we’ve been “exclusive” for them since 1981.

Why do you like working with fur? Which fur technique and/or treatment are you into lately?

My roots are in tailoring, and working with fur enables me to expand my horizons as a designer. I like to use a laser-grooving/let-out technique that gives fur a unique texture, and a fabric-like appearance.

Which fur types do you favor? Why?

I’m not certain that I can say I have a favorite type of fur. I like working with them all.

What are your thoughts on dyed fur?

I can remember being one of the first to pioneer the idea of dyeing furs! The mere though of dyeing furs was exciting because it expanded the repertoire of our inventory. Dyed fur can account for a majority of our collections every year.

As a rule, who is today’s fur customer? Do you see a specific age group? A lifestyle?

I believe today’s fur customer, man or woman, are fashion conscientious, yet quite practical. However, I don’t think this customer is limited by age or lifestyle!

Hipsters and socialites are all wearing fur nowadays, why do you think this is?

Because fur is undeniably glamorous, comfortable, and feels great to wear.

How do you see fur worn today versus a generation (or two) ago?

I have been involved with furs for over 50 years, and I truly believe that I can say fur is worn, has been worn, and will always be worn in every imaginable way. Whether it be worn to feel glamorous during an event, to keep warm from the cold, dress for work, or leisure…Generations from the past, present, and future all seem to have very similar mentalities.

Why do you think fur has been growing in popularity among designers? Consumers?

In a way its like osmosis: “It’s the natural thing to do!”

As a designer, how do you like to see fur worn?

In every possible and imaginative way, from on ones body to over the shoulders.

How would you introduce a male client to fur versus a female client?

I have been designing men’s furs since 1962, and it’s hard for me to say that I have a different way of introducing fur to men versus women.

Who is today’s key fur customer? Why do you think so?

I believe today’s key fur customer to be a person who is “secure”, fashionable, outgoing, and happy!

What is today’s fur/fashion customer looking for?

Something different, new and exciting!

What is the fur type you’d recommend for a first-timer? Why?

Traditionally I’ve always been partial to a mink stroller as a first time purchase. However, I guess I would have to do a little prying about their lifestyle and recommend something that I believe would fit their everyday needs.

What is the most “on trend” way to wear fur today?

That’s easy…whatever the imagination asks for!

What are the key fur pieces/silhouettes for the coming season? The key trends in fur fashion for the upcoming 2011/2012 season?

Short jackets, boleros, vests (long or short), capes and shaped ¾ garments seem to be trending for the upcoming 2011/2012 season.

If someone were investing in only one fur piece for the upcoming season, what should it be?

A good old reliable mink coat! Durable, warm, and never goes out of style!

What is the first time you ever remember designing something? What was it? Who was it for?

The first time I ever designed something was for my mother. It was a lamb jacket, and she was my first “test”.

Have you ever regretted a design? Fur or not!

Maybe, but I honestly can’t remember!

Have clients made you blush with a private order? What was the request? Did you do it?

Yes, I recall a client asking me to cover a pair of handcuffs, a blindfold, and a whip in dyed red mink. We invoiced them as “special accessories”.

How would you recycle/rework grandma’s mink coat?

If the garment is in “workable” condition, the options can vary. I can utilize the fur as a liner to a raincoat, or I can tweak the shoulders, cuffs, and the length to modernize it for very little cost.

What celebrity is your “muse”? What would you design for them? What kind of fur garment would you put them in?

Sandra Bullock. I would design a gorgeous white Ermine coat for her.

What is your favorite food?

I love pasta e fagioli.

What is your favorite thing to do on your day off?

I like to play golf, and tend to my fig trees and vegetable garden.

Your favorite vacation destination?

My home in Florida!

Can you name any celebrity clients?

That’s the one question I can’t answer!

Comments ( 3 )

    • D&D says:

      Great interview on such a talented man! I was so pleased, and agree, that today’s fur customer is a happy person! Thanks for some background on Mr. Sorbara.

    • anita says:

      Hello, I have a full length lynx coat Sorbara for Neiman Marcus which was left to me. I want to sell it. What are your suggestions for the best value? It is in new condition.

    • FurInsider says:

      Hi Anita! Vintage (or slightly used) furs are very popular right now. You have several options. (1) your local fur retailer or vintage boutique may buy the coat from you; (2) you can offer the coat directly on ebay or a number of other online e-commerce sites: (3) you can donate your coat to one of our member retailers at appraised value to be sold in a charity vintage fur boutique. A local fur retailer guide can be found at http://www.fur.org.

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