Cerovečki Umbrellas

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Cerovečki Umbrellas maintains a 100-year-old tradition in producing specialized handmade umbrellas and parasols. The story began back in 1912 when Mijo Cepanec started his umbrella artisan shop Cepanec in Varaždin. The shop had moved to Ilica street in Zagreb in 1936 and has been there ever since. Today, the business is run by the fourth generation — Thomislav and his wife Mateja Cerovečki, and is still located in Ilica — the longest street in Zagreb, known for its small specialized shops, crafts workshops, trades and services.
There is no formal education for umbrella makers anymore, so the skill needs to be learned from an early age, and then passed on from generation to generation. This is how present owner Thomislav learned it from his father as well.
Today, Thomislav is the only umbrella maker in Zagreb (out of eight that used to exist). He repairs and manufactures umbrellas and parasols of all kinds together with his wife, and two other employees and outside contractors in case of bigger orders. In times of increasing imports from China, Cerovečki products stand out thanks to their premium quality and style. To be a successful umbrella maker one has to have patience, know the technology of the work, obey the rules, be aware of the quality of the materials, sizes, and have a sense of aesthetic and design, claims Thomislav.

The Šestine umbrella, also a symbol of Zagreb, is Cerovečki’s bestseller umbrella. The pattern, originally from Spain, was brought to Croatia during the Napoleonic conquests and took hold in the Northern parts of Croatia, Slovenia, Italy and Austria.

In 1937 Cepanec began importing Knirps umbrella parts, and started assembling them in the workshop in Ilica. The cooperation with other foreign umbrella manufacturers continued later on. In 1943 Gabrijel Cerovečki inherited the entire branch from Cepanec. As the business continued to grow, Gabrijel decided to pass his knowledge onto his son Krešimir, who also became a master umbrella maker. To keep up with the ever-growing demand, they worked together with six other workers. During 1967, due to political decisions unfavourable toward the privately-owned businesses, many of the craft shops in the centre of Zagreb were closed, including Cerovečki Umbrellas. Within 24 hours Gabrijel Cerovečki was ousted from his legally owned shop. However, he refused to give up and continued working at home until he managed to reopen his shop, this time at Ilica 50. The premises, along with the workshop where all the repairs are done are rented from the Croatian Chamber of Crafts.

Most of the materials used for production are imported from Italy and Germany. On average, it takes two to three hours to make an umbrella from the scratch (if it does not have some special features). The process includes: tailoring, skeleton joining, sewing the material, adjusting fine details, placement of canvas, mounting the handle, adjusting the spokes and ironing.

The Šestine umbrella, also a symbol of Zagreb, is Cerovečki’s bestseller umbrella. The pattern, originally from Spain, was brought to Croatia during the Napoleonic conquests and took hold in the northern parts of Croatia, Slovenia, Italy and Austria. It is produced in several colours: red, blue, black and green. The people of Šestine embraced the red variant because it matched their costumes and today it is an integral part of their folk costume. Šestine umbrellas have classical chestnut wooden handles, and the once cotton material used by peasants is now replaced with lighter impregnated polyester fabric. The art of making the Šestine umbrella in the traditional craft workshop Cerovečki is on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Republic of Croatia.
Prices range from 40 to 100 EUR. The most popular classical red umbrella called Šestinski kišobran costs around 90 EUR. Cerovečki makes and sells umbrellas of different types and sizes. There are classic and the auto-open umbrellas with metal or wooden shafts and handles, while lengths run from 50 to 76cm, with differing numbers of ribs (8, 10 or 12).
Besides their standard offer, Cerovečki also made custom replicas of umbrellas and parasols from the 18th, 19th and the early 20th century for American, English and German film studios and theatres. Many companies, embassies, ministries, the Office of the Chief of Protocol etc. have acknowledged Cerovečki’s commitment to top quality by ordering products as gifts for other statesmen or business partners. Most popular gift seems to be the charming and recognizable Šestine umbrella.
In recent years family business worked on expanding their collection by inviting local designers to collaborate with, which resulted in innovative new products such as Kaplja raincoat in familiar Šestine print.