The Ercegovac hats fashion store is situated in the center of Belgrade, just across the Palace on Terazije. It was founded by Vojislav Ercegovac who, after the war, moved to Belgrade and started working as travelling salesman at the shop of Milivoj Popov. Mr. Popov had already been in the hat manufacturing and sales business, working out of a shop in no. 5 Kolarceva street. Milena Ercegovac, Vojislav’s sister, who was married to Milivoj Popov was working at that same store as well.
On August 1st 1927, Vojislav opened his own women’s hats store in Kneza Milosa street. The store was named Women’s Hats Main Warehouse and Store Ercegovac. One of the store’s employees was Jelena Trbojevic, the then soon to be wife of Vojislav.
Jelena had graduated from high school in Osjek, where she later studied fashion design and crafts at the esteemed store Klingen. She arrived in Belgrade in 1927 and immediately started designing fashion items for the Ercegovac fashion store. A year later, due to an increase in demand and consequently production of Jelena’s and Vojislav’s hats, they opened another store in no. 4 Sremska street, which was working over the course of the following two years. During those years, they even opened another store in Kralja Milana street, in which only children’s hats could be bought.
Frau Kligen, besides being know as a rather strict lady, was also regarded as one of the most skilled masters in fashion design east of Vienna. She was head of a young girls school in Tvrdja old town of Osijek, Croatia. Upon finishing her design courses, Frau Klingen’s students would often work in other parts of Europe or North America because they were considered as exceptionally skilled.
Jelena Trbojevic (Jela) was one of those students. She arrived in Belgrade in 1927 with the sole desire to buy a ticket and move to North America. While residing in Belgrade she received a letter telling that her younger sister Milica was engaged and soon to be married to Mr. Radovan Mirkovic, who was a cavalry officer.
Since, at that time cavalry officers were notorious for their seductive ways, a worried older sister decided to postpone her travels until Milica gets married. Therefore, she immediately needed to find work and a place to stay in Belgrade.
The Ercegovac Family’s brother-in-law, Mr. Milivoj Popov, owned a women’s hats factory and had two sons who weren’t interested in that line of work. They both studied in renowned European schools and led rather avant-guard-like lifestyles. Namely, after WWII they didn’t even return to Yugoslavia. Upon the war’s ending, Dusko had become an excusite spy with code-name Tricycle and Marko was a doctor. That is why Mr. Milivoj Popov employed and taight his brother-in-law, Vojislav Ercegovac who was a rather diligent fellow. As all other young ambitious and talented folk, Voja quickly kindled a desire for independence in a line of work that he had already been succesfull in. In 1926 he deiced to carve his own piece in the women’s hat industry, Therefore, Voja needed to quickly find a shop, a stylist and employees.
In this moment, as in many others touched by fortune, two people met at the intersection of destiny in 1927, in Belgrade, striving for the same skies, seeking the same future. Little could they know that great love would flourish from tireless work hours and that their craft would be sustained over the next 90 years by their daughter-in-law and their grandkinds. Their shop hasn’t moved since 1927.
However for the plot to cullminate, it needed another love story. One of those that brought discomfort to life. Namely, another fashion deisgner, already married with an operating store, started to neglect her husband and her work for a forbiden love affair. The destiny of this fashion designer remains unknown to us, but what we are familiar with is that her husband, clutterd with troubles, decided to sell the store. 1st of August 1927, Mr. Vojislav Ercegovac and Mss. Jelena Ercegovac took over that exact store in the street of Milos the Great, above the London building and present their first collection. On the first morning Mss. sold five five felt winter hat’s in the midts of summer. Witnessing this the former owner started to reconsider his decision to sell the store. However, the deal was in fact made, as the two gentlmen were men of their words, master craftsmen.
Five months later, Voja was visited by his uncle and aunt. Voja presented his workshop and the store. To everyone’s surprise he introduced Mss. Jela to his family, as his future wife. This rather charming proposal, impossible to decline, had put to motion a brand that spans trough four generations. Dragoslav later married Jelisaveta, and through their daughter Jelena, they passed the entusiasm to their granddaughter Isidora, the same way the craft secret’s were passed to Jelena, by her grandmother Jela and grandfather Vojislav. That fortunate series of events enabled Ercegovac hat’s successors to prolong the tradition and keep enriching it with love for 90 years.
That is how a Belgrade’s fashion brand Ercegovac hat’s was born, and today after almost a century it is held in high regard troughtout the Balkans, Europe and the world.