Pécs Gloves

Glove manufacturing has a 300 year-old past in Pécs: gloves have been made here since the middle of the 18th century. The family Hamerly built a factory that was well-known throughout Europe in the 19th century. After the Second World War, the nationalized glove factory became one of the most important mills in the world. Nowadays, seven minor glove manufacturing private firms are operating in the city, united in a cluster.

Hamerli Glove Factory

It was János Hamerly, who founded the first glove manufacture in Hungary, Pécs in 1861. The location could not have been chosen randomly, because the craftsmen of Pécs were famous for their high-quality leathers since the Ottoman occupation. He opened a glove manufacturing plant in Vienna as well in 1865, which was necessary for promoting the products. The dynamic development of the factory and the opening markets made him extend continuously. He ran shops in the City Hall building of Pécs and in the main street too. But due to the malodorant and polluting process of leader production, he could not extend his factory site here, thus he bought a new one in Alsó-Puturla (now Vince) Street in 1877, where he also moved the rawhide depot and the tannery.

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He received a medal-for-merit at the world fair in Vienna in 1873, and a gold medal in Neusalz two years later. His success was due to high-quality raw materials and to modern techniques, because they used Western European presses and sewing machines already in 1868. After János Hamerly’s death in 1895, his sons operated the manufacture. Thanks to Imre Hamerli mainly, the manufacture became a real factory. The pavilion Hamerli also took part in the National Exhibition and Fair of Pécs that had a million visitors in 1907. Other local companies like the Angster Organ Factory, the Höfler and Partner Leather Factory, the Zsolnay Majolica Factory and the Littke Champagne Factory also participated.

Hunor Pécs Glove and Leather Garment Company

Corvin Áruház Budapest - Magyar Kereskedelmi és Vendéglátóipari Múzeum, CC BY-NC-ND

The factory could hardly survive the two world wars and could employ fewer and fewer employees every year. The factory was nationalized in 1948. Production was reorganized and the leather producing mill was attached to the leather factory. Fortunately, the operation of the factory fitted in the central planning ideas, thus the number of workers doubled between 1953 and ’56. During the 1970s in Budapest, people could find leather wallets, leather handbags and different kinds of leather gloves on the shelves of the Corvin Department Store, in the leather coat, leather gloves and fancy leather goods department. The range consisted of the products of the Pécs Glove Factory almost exclusively. Owing to different developing projects, the capital export reached USD 14-15 million by the ‘80s. The factory was renamed in 1982 to Hunor Pécs Glove and Leather Garment Company and the production of new goods was also planned (coats and jackets for men and women). However, investment resources slowly exhausted and the factory was privatized at the beginning of the 1990s.

 
The glove factory of Pécs is introduced (documentary film, 1978, directed by István Timár)

Pécs Glove Cluster

A couple of years ago, the media wrote about the closing of the glove factory of Pécs, but those who loved high-quality Hungarian brands needn’t have worried. Only the German Otto Kessler Hungarian Glove Co. ceased its production in Pécs and moved its manufacturing into two affiliates – with leadership in Pécs – in China (with 300 workers) and in Ethiopia (with 200 workers). The ceased firm could not have used the brand name ‘Pécs Glove’ legally, because it was not a member of the cluster. Instead of the old large glove factory, there are seven minor glove manufactures in the city nowadays.

To our pride, the Pécs Gloves still have an important role in the fashion world; even the most popular pop stars wear them at their shows: like Lady Gaga and Madonna.

Etele Szüts
Translated by Zita Aknai