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Behind the brand - Pongees

Bridal Buyer interview Pongees, a luxury silk supplier who have been providing bridalwear, daywear, eveningwear and lingerie internationally for the past 90 years.

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Can you tell us about the history of the brand?

While Pongees has been supplying luxury silks for bridalwear, eveningwear, daywear and lingerie internationally from its UK base for 90 years, the company was actually founded by a Swiss family back in the mid-1800s.

Ostertag Hausamann Faes was established to take advantage of Switzerland’s long-standing trading links with China and quickly became a leading supplier of silk, the queen of fibres.

In 1931, a branch office was opened in London under the name Pongees Ltd - pongee being a generic term for a group of Chinese silks that were especially popular at that time. Initially, it sold greige fabric to the printing industry for silk ties and scarves. Over the years, it has developed one of the largest ranges of silks, sourced not just from Asia but also top mills in France, Italy and the UK. Its current chairman is a descendant of the founders.

Can you talk about the brand’s relationship with the UK bridal market?

Pongees has built up a fantastic relationship with bridalwear designers and manufacturers through its impeccable customer service, which is very much valued in a sector where there are such strict deadlines and where selecting the right colour for an outfit is so important.

Whether a customer wants to order just 1 metre or 10s of metres, they are treated exactly the same. As fabric is kept in stock, next day delivery is available.

From a recent survey, we know that most customers like to order direct with our sales team so we have built up an excellent rapport with them. We think the personal touch is really important, particularly at the beginning of the sourcing process, even if the customer actually chooses to place the order through the website.

We also have bridalwear fabric catalogues so that designers and fabric buyers can have the range at their finger tips.

How has the last year been for your brand?

While it has been a difficult year for most businesses, Pongees has responded as it would pre-pandemic and has not lost a day’s trading of which we are very proud. Whenever possible, we have also opened our London showroom.

What’s next for the brand?

We have invested further in our sampling department with a generous feeler added to our shade cards so that customer can get a better feel of the products on offer.

We are developing more bespoke catalogues and more educational and fabric specific content for the website.

What are the brand’s secrets to success?

Top quality mulberry silk, an extensive range of over 90 available colours, competitive prices and fantastic customer service are all key to our success.

Can you tell us five interesting facts about the brand?

Pongees silks are not just for bridal dresses...

1. A garter belt by Near the Lingerie was worn by Billie Eilish in a shoot for Vogue

2. The first time that 22ct gold was used to paint a design on a fabric – it was Pongees organza for a dress created by Rebecca Street

3. Zandra Rhodes selected Pongees fabrics for her signature print dresses and for the staging of her collection

4. Bedding, including mulberry silk satin sheets, pillow cases and even eye masks

5. Lampshades, both traditional and modern in douppion.

Tell us about the fabrics have you included in your range?

We have plain dyed, embroidered and jacquard silks including tulles, chiffons, crepes, douppions, habotais, organzas, marocains, crepes, velvets and mohair, including multiple laces often used as trimmings. We work closely with top Portuguese bridal fabric supplier Sanmartin, with fabric ranges including laces, embroideries and jacquards.

Fabrics are eminently suitable for embellishing–hand dyeing, embroidery, beading–to create an even more bespoke, individual look. We can also custom dye fabrics for individual needs.

How can retailers get in touch to order?

Contact sales@pongees.com

Call + 44 (0) 20 7739 9130

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