Ong Chin Huat speaks with the founder and designer of Primo Luxe Gloves, Georgette McGriff and finds out what sets these super luxurious gloves apart from the rest and why she decided to venture into the glove business.
Having studied fashion merchandising and later working at the upmarket store Barney’s in New York gave Primo Luxe founder and designer Georgette McGriff the impetus to start her own luxury glove company. Inspired by her love of artisanal craftsmanship and glamorous images from a bygone era, Georgette established Primo Luxe back in 2006 by launching a collection titled “Cruise Control” which turned out to be an overwhelming success. The driving glove made from soft and supple lambskin and available in eight colours was sold out quickly.
Today, all her highly coveted gloves are hand-made in Italy by skilled artisans who employ a 25-step process when making each glove. This dedication to quality and workmanship is also employed to all her other products such as leather clutches, card cases and luggage tags. With attention to the minutest detail, fashionable colour combinations and modern techniques, Primo Luxe gloves and leather accessories pay homage to the past while capturing the imagination of a future generation. The Primo Luxe Collection is sold at Henri Bendel, Harvey Nichols, The Plaza Hotel in New York among others.
LM: Tell me about Primo Luxe and how it came about.
GM: Given my passion for fine accessories, I envisioned my own personal line and decided to take the initiative to bring it to life. With the countless varieties of fine leather accessories in the market, I too wanted to be part of an industry that appreciates the creative, by presenting my own signature, Primo Luxe.
Prior to the building of my brand, I was making frequent trips to Italy for vacation and whenever I returned home, I would bring leather and suede gloves back as gifts for friends. Those trips exposed me to an accessories store in Rome where I became friends with the owner. I was lured by the beauty and artistry of their product line and knew then, I wanted to build my own brand. It wasn’t long before a friend introduced me to leather/suede manufacturers in Italy, which at that point started the process. Needless to say, this reinforced my idea even more. What I experienced in Italy, I wanted others to experience back home.
Once in New York, I started the basic business practices to launch Primo Luxe. As one of the greatest fashion meccas in the world and my hometown, New York gave me enormous leverage to showcase Primo Luxe. I had access to everything I needed.
Primo Luxe is my personal panache and labour of passion. Overall, my ultimate desire is that my clientele can exude their best when engulfed in Primo Luxe.
LM: Why did you decide to go into the luxury glove business?
GM: My initial desire was to design handbags but that was a saturated market. Thus, I shifted to my next favourite, gloves. Worn by both women and men, gloves are the everyday added dose of glamour. When you watch “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” study pop culture or people watch (especially during winter), one cannot help noticing that gloves are an everyday fashion staple.
LM: Were you from a luxury or fashion background before you founded Primo Luxe?
GM: When I was younger, I studied fashion buying and merchandising and while I knew that was not the direction I was headed, the experience provided me with the much-needed tools to grow Primo Luxe. Also, there was a season in my professional life where I worked at Barney’s in New York (first job). Working in their accessories department was like a kid in a candy store.
LM: What sets Primo Luxe apart from other gloves?
GM: Primo Luxe is grounded in true luxury. Specifics such as fabric, colours and design details are selected not just for style but for function as well. Each pair goes through a 25-step process, handcrafted by true artisans. Primo Luxe has a broad variety of colours, textures and styles for both women and men. We also customize products to accommodate the client’s needs.
LM: Apart from gloves, what else do you make?
GM: Aside from gloves, Primo Luxe manufactures leather envelope clutches/iPad cases, card cases, and luggage tags.
LM: Are you involved with the designs of the gloves?
GM: Yes. My input starts from sourcing the leather to choosing patterns and embossing the leather. I oversee the entire process before going to production.
LM: How many collections do you produce a year?
GM: I produce two collections a year. Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter.
LM: What inspires you when you sit down to create a new collection?
GM: Unlike many designers, I do not sit down and sketch ideas in a classical sense. I tend to draw my ideas from my own personal approach. I get inspired by watching foreign films, flipping through my archives of old fashion magazines, travelling internationally and looking through my plethora of art books. These are the influences that fuel and invigorate my ideas.
LM: Tell us about Primo Luxe’s latest collection.
GM: This year my inspiration took me to the ’80s. In particular, the 80’s in Paris. Films such as “Diva” and “Frantic” were definitely referenced. So chic! In the latest collection, I decided to use embossed leather and lots of embossed metallic. My favourite item in the collection is the fingerless glove.
LM: How many pairs of gloves do you own?
GM: Somewhere between a ‘lady never tells’ and ‘too many to count.’