This Is What A $1 Million Fendi Fur Coat With Silver

This Is What A $1 Million Fur Coat With Silver Tips Looks Like


Photo: Victor Boyko/Getty Images.

From his omnipresent crew of attractive men to his far-flung runway locales and his well-crafted personal brand, Karl Lagerfeld has never been a designer to do anything halfway. By now, we’re already used to seeing his extravagant creations on the catwalk — Chanel branded casino tables, anyone? — but even that doesn’t compare to what walked down the runway at the recent Fendi show.

Just last week, Lagerfeld showed Fendi’s debut couture fur collection on the runway in Paris. The event also happened to mark Lagerfeld’s 50th anniversary with the Italian fashion house, so it’s not surprising that he took his “go big or go home” ethos to an entirely new level. Amongst the 36 looks crafted from mink, chinchilla, and sable, Lagerfeld’s haute fourrure show also featured one of the most expensive items of clothing ever: a fur coat worth €1 million (for the math averse, that’s $1,085,040). According to Dazed, every single follicle on this floor-length sable overcoat is coated in pure silver, “giving a unique and contemporary luminous metallic effect to the fur while maintaining its softness.” This glimmering, moonlit finish made it the standout piece of the show — we’d certainly hope so, especially given the price tag.

Clearly, Lagerfeld wasn’t exaggerating before the show when he told WWD, “The sable coat today is expensive, like people pay less for a house than for a sable coat. It’s unbelievable!” It just remains to be seen who’s willing to shell out — and brave PETA — in order to wear it.

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Karl Lagerfeld on Fur, Fendi and Couture

Lagerfeld will unveil his most expansive experiment yet during Paris Couture Week: an haute fourrure show for Fendi.

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Karl Lagerfeld at the Palazzo Della Civiltà Italiana, Fendi’s new headquarters in Rome.

Courtesy of Fendi

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Never one to take himself too seriously, Karl Lagerfeld once deadpanned: “I’m not very gifted for hairdos.” He was referring to his signature snow-white ponytail, which he has worn since the mid-Seventies and which has become visual shorthand for the designer’s personage.

Yet when it comes to the hair of animals, Lagerfeld is a magician and a scientist, continually exploring new techniques and pushing the boundaries of design with one of the world’s most precious — yet still divisive — materials.

This story first appeared in the July 8, 2015 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Still restless and driven after half a century designing fur and ready-to-wear at Fendi, Lagerfeld will unveil his most expansive experiment yet during Paris Couture Week: an haute fourrure show for the Roman house, putting fur on fashion’s most prestigious stage — and securing Lagerfeld, the couturier at Chanel for more than 30 years, another coup: the only designer to stage two high-fashion shows in one week.

Fendi is making a big deal of the milestone, not only mounting the show, but publishing a box-bound Steidl tome, “Fendi by Karl Lagerfeld,” packed with the German designer’s colorful sketches.

Eyes fixed on fashion’s horizon, Lagerfeld is practically allergic to anniversaries and backward glances. In a wide-ranging conversation, he shared his vast knowledge of fur production and design, strong opinions about men in mink and the virtues of sketching by hand.


WWD: Will haute fourrure become a permanent part of the couture week?

Karl Lagerfeld: I don’t know if we will do it every season. You know, it’s not on my contract, so I don’t know. I’m too busy perhaps to do it all the time. And there’s a problem because there are hardly any skins left, you know.

I remember 30 years ago, we made a finale with 20 sable coats. If you want to do that today, you’re lucky if you can make one or two or three because most of the animals are not hunted anymore. It’s quite difficult to do high fashion because everything made in the past hardly exists anymore, so we have to invent unbelievable techniques and mix them with feathers and other things like that because the world has changed. We are not in the Eighties anymore.

WWD: Is the scarcity of fine fur that serious?

K.L.: They’re rarer and rarer. That means the activists don’t have
to be too angry because there is less and less and it becomes more and more expensive. The sable coat today is expensive, like people pay less for a house than for a sable coat. It’s unbelievable!

The techniques I invented in the Seventies and Eighties to make fur coats light and with expensive fur can now be done with less expensive furs.

WWD: Is the creative process for fur the same as rtw or couture?

K.L.: Yes, because I’m one of the few left who sketches everything himself, and when you come to the studio, you can see that the photos taken of the dresses and the sketches are the same. I’m able to put it on paper in 3-D nearly, so they can read the sketch and show me toiles that are perfect. I don’t know how others do with computers or draping materials; I don’t do that, I have a vision and I put it on a paper and they translate.

Computer sketches I don’t even look at: they all look the same — this is the end of a personal style. By contrast, sketching is like writing — you have your special handwriting and if you sketch with the hand it’s always better.

Also, I explain to the atelier what I want. My sketches also come with technical explanations. I’m very professional, you know.

WWD: Had you designed anything with fur before you started working for Fendi?

K.L.: We did a few fantasy coats at Chloé: three or four little coats in rabbit in the Sixties because that was the trend of the moment, but you can’t call this fur. When the Fendi sisters asked me to work with them, I said, “You know I don’t like the bourgeois mink, but if you do a fantasy line called Fendi Fun…” because that was the idea at the beginning. The double-F was Fendi Fun. That’s how it started and two years later I did everything and the double-F became the logo of the house. Today it’s important to have a logo because some people from the other countries can’t read the name. I cannot read Chinese names, but everybody can identify a logo. That’s why logos are so important.

WWD: Does fur tend to follow the same trends as rtw?

K.L.: There are different degrees in terms of fashion, so it depends. The high-fashion things can be, in a way, more eccentric than you would show at ready-to-wear, because you know, I’m very much against ready-to-wear shows when you see things you’ll never see in the shops. I hate creativity for nothing, only for the press, I think that is the opposite of what fashion is supposed to do. You don’t have to be low-commercial for that, because I don’t think my collections are so lowly commercial. I think they’re just right for the moment, if I could be pretentious.

WWD: Do you see haute fourrure as something innate to Fendi and Rome — in the same way that couture is closely linked to Paris?

K.L.: Fur for me is something Italian because in France, I never do fur. There are not many great fur people here, and their technique is basic compared to what I’m used to.

WWD: Do you prefer designing winter furs or summer furs?

K.L.: Summer furs, they hardly exist, but now furs are also bought by the hot countries. They put the air-conditioning in their houses to under zero and then they can wear the fur. I don’t think too much about seasons you know, because it’s warm and cold in the world, in different moments.

WWD: In working with fur, is the fabric limiting in any way and does this limitation inspire you?

K.L.: No, no, no. I don’t want to sound pretentious, but I invented a lot with furs so I can handle that as long as I have good workrooms to work with. I see it like another material: velvet or fur, it’s the same thing. It’s just another technique, it’s something else, as tweed is also something else. My process of thinking is very strange because I have these kind of visions and I put them on paper, it’s very bizarre. And this even improves with age.

WWD: Was fur very fusty and bourgeois when you started?

K.L.: It was horrible, horrible, because remember even in the Seventies and still in the Eighties, especially in Italy, they had all floor-length mink coats that were really not beautiful and very heavy to wear.

WWD: Did you ever meet a pelt you didn’t like?

K.L.: Oh, many. I never liked panther because I thought it was stiff. I even never liked it printed on fur; I also never liked all the things that were forbidden, not because they are forbidden, because I don’t like them, I don’t think they are flattering. My favorite furs are sable and ermine: ermine because it’s so liquid and sable because it’s warm. They are the most flattering furs.

WWD: What are some of the wackiest experiments you’ve tried with fur?

K.L.: Oh yes, trying 20 different furs together cut into strips and knitted and things like this. I did that in the Nineties, but I don’t remember that much. Don’t ask me too much about the past. For me personally, it’s about doing and it’s not about what I have done. I hate anniversaries.

WWD: So you rely on the atelier to interpret your sketches and technical requirements?

K.L.: When they cannot do it exactly the way I thought, they find another way. It’s a very creative way to work together. I’m always very close to the workroom.

It’s not only the idea, it’s also the technique and finding the right people to do it, because there are not so many people left, and trained well enough. You cannot do this with amateurs.

We do samples, we try to work out things together, to mix, to make it look completely different, because the great thing about fur today is that it mostly doesn’t look like fur anymore. I even like the allure of mixing fake fur with real fur. Nothing should be forbidden.

WWD: Have you ever worn fur yourself?

K.L.: In the Sixties, but never after. My house is too heated for a sable bed cover, but I think fur covers can be very beautiful.

WWD: Do you think it looks good on men, or should they approach with caution?

K.L.: It depends who you are, if you’re Liberace, maybe it’s OK, but I’m not too crazy for fur on men. As a lining in cold countries, why not? Although they can make you look fat. Very soft, beautiful coats — I think they are feminine. There were too many rock stars and people in the Sixties who used to wear fur, and if you look at the pictures today, it’s very tacky. But you know, in the Sixties, it was anything goes.

WWD: Fur has roared back to popularity in recent years. How do you account for that? Is it just a fashion trend, or do you think there’s something else at play?

K.L.: You know, trends come and go, so there are no rules. For the moment, people like fur, but they like fur as a fantasy, not as a status symbol. It’s not something you buy to show how rich you are, or as an investment. That I hate. But that kind of coat they don’t really make anymore.

WWD: Which women, past or present, wore fur with the greatest panache?

K.L.: Look at the old issues of Vogue, fur was the chicest thing in the world, especially in the Twenties and Thirties, when they used a lot of ermine — nothing to do with what they did later. At that time, the fur was much more beautiful and lighter. In the Forties and Fifties, they were just horrible, stiff and old.

In the Twenties, fur was treated like a material. There was a French fur designer named Max Leroy, and he did beautiful furs. There is a very beautiful old catalogue that exists of sketches by a man called Eduardo Benito. And Madeleine Vionnet did beautiful furs.

WWD: Where did the idea come for those fun and frivolous fur bag bugs, and especially the Karlito one that looks like you?

K.L.: Because I’m a cartoon, my dear. I’m easy, everybody can recognize me, and it’s fine. I can’t even cross the street anymore, anywhere, for all the tourists, all the selfies. It’s unbelievable, I don’t know how it happened — it’s so strange, this fame thing. But as my fortune-teller told me when I was young, she said: “For you, it will really start when it’s finished for the others.” It’s quite true.

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Fur Is More Fashionable Then Ever

The arc of history bends towards progress, but for the fashion industry, change isn’t progressing fast enough. As recent revelations that Hermes skins live alligators for their bags show, animals are being tortured and killed for fashion at an alarming rate. Leather is a staple and fur is one of the hottest crazes in the industry. As Racked recently pointed out, “isn’t the year 2015 an odd time for fur to be such a major trend? Aren’t we a bit too enlightened? Fur production often involves animal cruelty, not to mention environmentally harmful processes. Its growing presence in the luxury market just doesn’t jibe with our era’s emphasis on social and ecological consciousness.” It’s true. And weirder still, fashion is now full of vegans, so what the hell, how is fur making a comeback?

Fashion has long had a fascination with fur and the repercussions are scary. Long before the modern fast fashion era furs, leathers and other animal products were worn and used for practical reasons: warmth mainly, but also protection, durability and in some cases simply because other materials weren’t readily available. That started to change in the 18th century when European aristocracy began wearing furs not for utilitarian purposes, but as a show of status and style. The late Victorian age saw a remarkable rise in demand for pelts, furs and even exotic leathers that has gone unsatiated since. In the process, every animal imaginable was skinned for its fur. Badgers, skunks, wolves, polecats, squirrels, musk ox, monkeys, raccoons, wombats, wallabies, tigers, leopards, even hamsters and house cats were skinned for their fur.

The trade was so lucrative and desire for the highest quality furs so intense, whole species including beavers, badgers, foxes, minks and wolves were driven to near extinction in Europe and even America. In response, animal lovers, vegans, and environmentalists began organizing. PETA launched aggressive and shock-oriented campaigns against the fashion industry.

And it worked. For twenty years, the sales of furs and exotic skins plunged. Until recently. In the past decade, furs and exotic skins are clawing back with deceptive rebranding of fur as ‘ethical‘ and ‘luxurious‘ targeted at young fashionistas. In 2011, sales of fur were worth £9  billion, a rise of more than 70 % in a decade leading to over 50 million animals being slaughtered on fur farms. And fur is once again mainstream fashion. In 2014, 70% of New York and British fashion week shows incorporated fur into their collections.

Will the latest Hermes gruesome scandal in which an undercover PETA activist videos thousands of alligators getting their backbones snapped and then being skinned alive for bags, change anything?

Fortunately there are many great fashion alternatives. Modavanti has an entire vegan section filled with fashion forward styles. Earlier this month, brand Hugo Boss announced it plans to go fur free by 2016, a pledge that iconic British designer Stella McCartney made years ago. Freedom for Animals, a New York based conscious purse brand, has become widely recognized as the Vegan Celine bag. Brave Gentleman is also fully committed. Stylish fur-free, vegan fashion has arrived. It’s time for the rest of the fashion industry to catch up.

The arc of history may bend towards progress but in the fashion industry it needs a bit more of a correctional push.

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Celebrate Amazing Furs Custom Designed For LGBT Community

WASHINGTON — In a long-sought victory for the gay rights movement, the Supreme Court ruled by a 5-to-4 vote on Friday that the Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage.

“I’m all about the fur.” said three-time US champion, two-time Olympian, and World medalist figure skater, Johnny Weir.

Marc Kaufman, pre-eminent furrier to the LGBT community, makes fabulous furs, remodels your old furs, and rents furs to members of the gay community for every occasion. Get in touch today to buy a gorgeous new or pre-owned designer fur or design your own custom fur garment. Celebrate marriage equality with a fresh fur look or congratulate your favorite LGBT couple on their engagement or marriage with the gift of fur! Or buy a fur for your lover or yourself, just to celebrate this historic occasion!

Rent a fabulous fur coat or fur garment from Marc Kaufman Furs for a special occasion, a scene in a movie, a music video, a wedding or a photo shoot for a magazine. We have a beautiful collection of unique designer furs for rent at every price range. Most of our fur garments are one of a kind. Each and every fur was hand crafted and carefully designed. If you are interested in renting a fur, come in and see what kinds of furs we have in stock and what’s available for fur rental in your size. We have a huge inventory of furs for rent for you to choose from, in a wide range of styles and prices; you are guaranteed to find a piece for any occasion. If you rent a fur and fall in love with it, we will apply the fur rental charge towards the purchase of the fur that you rented.

Ever wanted to wear a fur garment to a special occasion but thought you couldn’t afford one? Now you can look and feel like a celebrity without breaking the bank with Marc Kaufman Furs’ Rent-A-Fur program. Renting a fur from Marc Kaufman Furs is fast and easy: we even ship fur rentals to wherever you may be!


Marc Kaufman Furs NYC 

212 West 30th St

New York, NY 10001

1 (212) 563 3877

Follow us on twitter @marckaufmanfurs

E-mail: kaufmanfurs@aol.com


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Fur Coats Fur Jackets Sales Booming

Fur trade booming after swing from fashion faux pas to catwalk favourite

Figures show farmers stepping up production to meet soaring demand for mink, sable, fox and ferret pelts

Fur pelts
Buyers and sellers trade animal fur pelts at a fashion fair in Hong Kong. Photograph: Alex Hofford/EPA 

They are not alone in falling off the anti-fur wagon. Figures from the International Fur Federation show that the industry is enjoying another year of considerable growth. The demand for mink, sable, fox and ferret has soared and farmers have stepped up production.

In 2013/14, 87.2m mink pelts were produced around the world, worth a total of £2.2bn, with 35m produced by China alone.

China also remains one of the biggest producers of fox pelt, and together with Finland was responsible for 91% of the 7.8m fox furs produced globally.

The figures – the first to show a breakdown of different pelts – follow on from research by the IFF last year which valued the global fur trade at more than £26bn.

On the British catwalks last year, more than 60% of shows featured fur, and at New York fashion week the figure topped 70%. While luxury labels such as Fendi have a long history of featuring real fur in their shows, fur is increasingly being used by newer brands as well. In New York, the up-and-coming label Cushnie Et Ochs said fur was its favourite material of the season, adding that it was “not ashamed”.

This month Karl Largerfeld said he would be putting on a special “couture fur” show to mark his 50th anniversary of working for Fendi. “For me, fur is Fendi and Fendi is fur, fun furs” he said. “Fendi is my Italian version of creativity. The Fendi haute fourrure fashion show is the opportunity to stage the royal furs of furs.”

He told the New York Times: “For me, as long as people eat meat and wear leather, I don’t get the message. It’s very easy to say no fur, no fur, no fur, but it’s an industry. Who will pay for all the unemployment of the people if you suppress the industry of the fur?”


In the 80s it was a serious fashion faux pas to step out in real fur, but today’s celebrities are rarely seen out of it. Rihanna and Rita Ora have recently been pictured in real mink coats, and Kim Kardashian dressed her one-year-old daughter North West in what was thought to be a $3,500 (£2,300) crystal fox fur coat at last month’s New York fashion week.

Lady Gaga made a Naomi Campbell-esque turnabout on the issue. Having initially denounced fur, she was later pictured in a full-length coat made of white pelt, and went on to say: “You see a carcass, I see a museum pièce de résistance.”

Mark Oaten, CEO of the International Fur Federation, said he was unsurprised by the growth in productionas the taboo around wearing real fur was fading into irrelevance. “We knew from the catwalks that fur is certainly being used much more by designers and from some of the retail figures, which can be patchy and difficult, that the sales are going strongly,” he said. “So with this increase in demand, farmers are deciding to invest more in fur farms and increase production.”

Oaten, a former Liberal Democrat MP, said Asia and Hong Kong remained the big players in the fur trade, both in terms of demand and production, but emphasised there was a shift towards buyers in America and Europe.

“Designers appear to be embracing it, customers appear to be embracing it and we certainly find the younger generation have less of an issue with fur than the younger generation of the 1980s,” he said.

“But it’s changed rapidly, even in the past three or four months. We’ve seen a change of patterns of the kind of consumers in Asia. Six months ago I would have said Beijing and Shanghai are really hot markets, but now we are seeing a shift away to the second- and third-tier cities in China as well. We’ve also seen an enormous increase in America because fur has had an incredibly busy runway and it has also been extraordinarily cold.”

In the UK, members of the British Fur Trade Association reported a 20% increase in sales last year. The association’s chief executive, Mike Moser, said the growth was being driven as much by younger generations as by foreign millionaires.

“It’s hot stuff because fur is being used in a real fun way in fashion now,” he said. “It’s more accessible for young people because of the increase of fur trims on coats and fur accessories.

“The BFTA runs an annual competition for design students using fur and this year we’ve seen a 50% increase in the number of students taking art. They just want to use fur in their designs which proves there such a strong interest in the younger generation.”

While the fur industry in countries such as Canada, the US and Europe remains heavily regulated, concerns remain over China, which is much more lax about the welfare of animals. Oaten conceded it was a concern for the IFF and said cleaning up the Chinese fur trade remained a priority.

“Obviously with so much mink coming from China, one of my big priorities is to make sure that they understand what the requirements are for welfare,” he said. “I was in China a couple weeks ago meeting with government officials. They have already adopted Council of Europe guidelines on welfare and we’ve had a long dialogue with them to implement even stronger welfare protocols. The difficulty does still lie in ensuring these regulations are always enforced in such a large country.”

Oaten said he was a personal fan of pelts. “I use a lot of fur for interiors,” he said. “Though I’ve not yet found a fur coat that suits me.”

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Snoop Dogg Marc Kaufman Furs NYC

Snoop Dogg is fashioning an amazing Lynx fur jacket with white fox trim around the hood. furs from Marc Kaufman Furs of NY.

P. Diddy and Snoop Dogg wearing Marc Kaufman Furs, February 2015

P. Diddy and Snoop Dogg wearing Marc Kaufman Furs, February 2015

Since 1870 The Marc Kaufman Fur family has been designing quality furs and creating designer wear in NYC . We have a large, selection of designer fur coats and fur jackets at wholesale pricing. Full length designer fur coats, designer mink coats, fur jackets, fox coats, fox jackets, sable coats, and sable strollers. We specialize in fur storage, fur cleaning, fur repairs and fur remodeling.

For the softest in furs we have the finest Chinchilla trimmed mink coats, chinchilla coats, chinchilla jackets, lynx coats. Enjoy your shopping experience at Marc Kaufman Furs, NYC ‘s Best Place to Shop in New York City for furs. Professional fur storage, fur cleaning and fur repairs. Furrier on premises.

Marc Kaufman Furs in New York City, NY ships your fur purchases and rentals to wherever you may be: Chicago, Illinois, Detroit, Michigan, Buffalo, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, California, Minnesota, Seattle, Washington, Philadelphia, Taos, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Atlanta, Georgia, Portland, Oregon, Park City, Utah, Idaho, Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, Wyoming, Montana, Aspen, Colorado, Missouri, Anchorage, Alaska, Moscow, Russia, London, UK, England, Seoul, South Korea, Geneva, Gstaad, Lausanne, Zurich, Switzerland, Germany, Paris, Chamonix, France, Austria, Italy, Dubai, UAE, Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, China, Tokyo, Osaka, Japan, Toronto, Whistler, British Columbia, Quebec, Canada, Helsinki, Finland, Stockholm, Sweden, Copenhagen, Oslo, Norway, Melbourne, Sydney, Australia, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Singapore; to all 50 States, and just about anywhere else in the World! With over 2000 quality furs to choose from, and the option to design your own, Marc Kaufman Furs of NYC has the most extensive online fur selection in the World.Marc Kaufman Furs in New York City, NY ships your fur purchases and rentals to wherever you may be: Chicago, Illinois, Detroit, Michigan, Buffalo, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, California, Minnesota, Seattle, Washington, Philadelphia, Taos, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Atlanta, Georgia, Portland, Oregon, Park City, Utah, Idaho, Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, Wyoming, Montana, Aspen, Colorado, Missouri, Anchorage, Alaska, Moscow, Russia, London, UK, England, Seoul, South Korea, Geneva, Gstaad, Lausanne, Zurich, Switzerland, Germany, Paris, Chamonix, France, Austria, Italy, Dubai, UAE, Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, China, Tokyo, Osaka, Japan, Toronto, Whistler, British Columbia, Quebec, Canada, Helsinki, Finland, Stockholm, Sweden, Copenhagen, Oslo, Norway, Melbourne, Sydney, Australia, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Singapore; to all 50 States, and just about anywhere else in the World! With over 2000 quality furs to choose from, and the option to design your own, Marc Kaufman Furs of NYC has the most extensive online fur selection in the World.

Our Designer Furs come from different parts of the world. We have some of the most beautiful Italian designed fur coats,some French designed fur garments and some beautifully designed fur coats from our NY fur designers. I must say we have a beautiful fur collection.
Special Orders is our Specialty. We can take a collar from one fur coat, a sleeve treatment from another fur coat, a color from another fur coat, It’s all your Choice.
Our New Russian Designer Fur Coat Collection  We have developed with the help of a Russian Fur designer, the most exciting fur collection too be previewed this year. With over 50 furs styles to choose from, our unique designs will be stand alone. Only one fur sample per style will be available for purchase.
Marc Kaufman Furs has a modern cold fur storage vault and a special fur cleaning facility all in NYC. This fur cleaning facility was designed to clean furs, clean leathers and clean shearlings. Special fur cleaning methods were passed down from 3 generations of Kaufman’s.  
Expert Fur Remodeling, we offer many designer styles that will modernize your older fur. Let us take your old and tired fur coat and make it look new again.
Fur is no longer just for warmth on the coldest of days, furs has moved into the hot ‘must have’ fashion category and is worn from day to night and across all seasons. 
Purchasing a Marc Kaufman Fur is a perfect Luxury Gift for your Lady or for your Man. Every time they wear this Marc Kaufman Fur, they will feel the warmth and memory of their gift from you and the occasion that this gift was given.

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Fur Is Back Big Time Marc Kaufman Furs NYC

Fur Is Back Big Time — Here’s Why

Jenna Sauers
Jenna Sauers

As we recently learned, the fur industry is booming. Global fur sales rose by 70% from 2000 to 2010. Annual sales of fur pelts reached $15-16 billion, according to the fur industry’s trade association, during the winter of 2010-11 (pelts are sold during a season that runs from around October through March, and the 2010-11 season is the most recent for which figures were available). An industry spokesperson attributed the rise primarily to two factors: designers who have incorporated small amounts of fur into a wider array of garments, making fur an option in warmer climates, and “a younger generation whose passion is not animal rights.”

This development is surprising to anyone who remembers the highly publicized battles over fur and animal welfare of the 1980s and 1990s. Back then, shocking depictions of the cruelty inherent in fur production — often in the form of polemical and, critics said, misleading videos produced by pro-animal-rights fringe groups — were only starting to reach a wider audience. Protesters were omnipresent at fashion week and public pressure to avoid fur was high. Anna Wintour was served a skinned raccoon at the Four Seasons. It seemed like every week another of your favorite celebrities was stripping off for a PETA ad. By turn of the millennium, the moral issue of fur seemed settled, and fur itself seemed like a relic of a bygone age — something that your grandparents’ generation had misguidedly believed was okay, like golliwog dolls or smoking during pregnancy. The idea of wearing something so thoroughly politicized and icky as fur just seemed ugly. Popular culture kept up with the times: when Lily Esposito chided Mary Cherry for her mink coat on Popular, Mary Cherry looked like the spoiled, amoral wench that she was.

Fur Is Back Big Time — Here's Why

But during the 2000s, things changed. Designers who hadn’t previously shown fur on the runway began showing it; designers who had previously shown some, showed more. Designers who had publicly pledged to abjure fur, like Giorgio Armani, went back on their word — as did a good number of those overexposed PETA “faces.” (Naomi Campbell even went so far as to do an ad campaign for the furrier Dennis Basso.) Fur began to creep back into fashion magazine pages. 1990s grunge and minimalism gave way to 2000s bling and ostentation. And now, fur is back in a big way. This year’s fall runways? Among the designers who showed fur and/or shearling were Alexander McQueen, Dolce & Gabbana, Lanvin, Louis Vuitton, Michael Kors, Oscar de la Renta, Prada, Rebecca Minkoff, Salvatore Ferragamo, Tom Ford, Vivienne Westwood, and Yves Saint Laurent.

Fur Is Back Big Time — Here's Why

This reversal is not merely the result of a cultural trend meeting its inevitable backlash. It’s also a story of economics, and of the fur industry’s quiet battle to rebrand its product as sustainable, natural, and luxurious.

Fashion is still a very top-down business. A fur coat in a designer’s fall collection might retail for $10,000 and be ordered by a handful of stores; but that fur coat’s value in visibility for fur as a whole helps sell thousands of $60 rabbit-trimmed Michael Kors hats and $400 coyote-trimmed men’s jackets at Macy’s. To help make fur a trend that pops up in magazine editorials and online, fur suppliers often sponsor designers, giving them free product to incorporate into their seasonal collections and even sending them on junkets. In 2010, the New York Times reported that one Scandinavian supplier, Saga Furs, gave fur to Cushnie et Ochs, Thakoon, Brian Reyes, Wayne, Derek Lam, Proenza Schouler and Richard Chai. It also paid for three designers to go on a junket:

Last summer, for example, the designers Alexander Wang and Haider Ackermann, plus Alexa Adams and Flora Gill of Ohne Titel were flown to Copenhagen for weeklong visits to the design studios of Saga Furs, a marketing company that represents 3,000 fur breeders in Finland and Norway. Saga Furs regularly sponsors such design junkets.

Another fur supplier, the North American Fur Auctions, gave furs that year to Bibhu Mohapatra and Prabal Gurung. “We want to make sure fur is on the pages of magazines around the world,” said the NAFA’s director of marketing at the time. “The way to do that is to facilitate the use of fur by designers.”

Fur Is Back Big Time — Here's Why

Fur industry organizations sponsor design contests at top fashion schools, including Parsons and the Fashion Institute of Technology. (So does PETA, which enjoyed some institutional support at Parsons back when Tim Gunn was dean of its fashion school.) The prizes are often lavish, including free international travel and tens of thousands of dollars worth of product — perfect for a young designer who needs backing to launch a line. It’s no accident that fur is increasingly present on the runways: the fur industry has spent years patiently working to re-legitimize and de-stigmatize its product in the eyes of a new generation of fashion tastemakers, and fur’s current boom is the fruit of their labors. A 2007 ad campaign even called fur “the natural, responsible choice.” Alice + Olivia designer Stacey Bendet, herself a vegan, wears fur and uses it in her collection. “It doesn’t make sense,” she once admitted. “Something about putting it inside me feels really barbaric. Something about wearing it just feels a little glamorous.”

Fur Is Back Big Time — Here's Why

Established designers like Zac Posen now see no downside to collaborating with fur brands — c.f. Posen’s collection for Pologeorgis. Even a series of minor scandals over fur labeling hasn’t served to set back the industry.

Five years ago, PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk said that only “old fogey designers like Karl Lagerfeld and so on” used fur, and that fashion’s new generation just wasn’t that into fur. Clearly, Newkirk was wrong.

In the past decade, fur has gone from being a kind of ethical third rail to just one point on the developing moral questionnaire of modern living. Maybe you care more about the environmental degradation, animal cruelty, and labor issues brought up by the leather tanning industry, or factory farms. Perhaps you think nothing of wearing vintage fur because to throw out a useful garment smacks of waste. Maybe you believe, like Silvia Fendi, that real fur is preferable to fake because, as she put it, “We did a collection of fake fur several years ago but found it is the most polluting thing for the environment.” Perhaps you feel a little like Kelis, who concluded a long MySpace rant against PETA by weighing concern over animal welfare to concern for the human beings who toil in sweatshops and in the fields. “Underpaid minorities picking your vegetables, now that’s fine for you right?” asked Kelis. “Don’t waste my time trying to save the dang chipmunk!”

Whatever the case, fur is back in a big way. And it seems to be here to stay for the foreseeable future.


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Furs Furs Furs all over the Designer Runways

There Is So. Much. Fur. On the Runway. 

Chris Brown is obviously just trolling us now.
At the end of New York Fashion Week this February, there was the usual onslaught of sing-song-y articles parsing the trends. “Fur!” they all chirped, every one. Fur, fur, fur, fur, fur!

It was everywhere. Fur coats, sure, but also fur scarves, fur stoles, fur shirts, fur shoulder pads, fur vests. Fox fur was most prevalent, although some mink, and in the case of Marc Jacobs, skunk. Reviewers vomited a steady stream of glowing modifiers to flesh out the trend, some furs belonging to the “bohemian/rustic/artisanal” end of the spectrum, others deemed “high ’70s glamour.” Certain designers, like Michael Kors, have always used fur in their collections—but even brands like Suno, which had never gone down the fur route (and whose collection I fawned over here), featured a few mink-accented looks.

[Clockwise: Alexander Wang, Altuzarra, Cushnie et Ochs, Dennis Basso, Diane von Furstenberg, Michael Kors, Prabal Gurung, Suno, Wes Gordon, Zac Posen]

There Is So. Much. Fur. On the Runway. 

Some of these treatments are, admittedly, beautiful. Prabal’s ombre fox fur gilet is chic as hell, and as Fashion Week traveled overseas to London, Roksanda (second to last, below) sent some stunning, otherworldly creations down the runway.

[From left: House of Holland, Matthew Williamson, Roksanda, Sass and Bide]

There Is So. Much. Fur. On the Runway. 

And in Milan, the fur parade continued. Some designers only showed one or two pieces; others, like Marni, were more heavy-handed.

[From left: Gucci, Marni, Philipp Plein, Emilio Pucci]

There Is So. Much. Fur. On the Runway. 

And we can’t forget Fendi! The absolute glut of furs Lagerfeld sent down the runway at Fendi, including some fully hideous fur boots, is but a sampling of what’s coming; the label will be presenting a “haute fourrure” show during Paris Couture week in July dedicated entirely to fur.

There Is So. Much. Fur. On the Runway. 

There Is So. Much. Fur. On the Runway. 

This is obscene.

And as Fashion Month pushes on to Paris, it’s something we should all be talking about. Faux fur is better than it’s ever been, but it’s still not ruling the runways. The fur trade is currently valued at over $40 billion dollars. Furriers, as the New York Times reported a few years ago, essentially bribe young designers into experimenting with their wares, forging career-long ties.According to the International Fur Federation, where such numbers can be found, China is currently the world’s largest importer of fur, closely followed by North America, Europe and Russia. Between 2000 and 2010, fur sales rose 70%. Nobody in fashion appears to give a shit about PETA—and why would anyone considered a tastemaker pay attention to an organization known for campaigns like this?

We’ve been here before. Every once and a while, an article like the one I’m writing right now has attempted to question the fur frenzy, shaking its tiny proverbial fists against the giant fashion cog that transforms an ugly death into something clean and covetable.

But nothing really changes, despite the fact that designers like Stella McCartney have paved a gorgeous alternate path, and despite the fact that the inner workings of the fur industry are a fairly well-known phenomenon.

(In case a refresher is needed: A recent investigation found designers including Fendi and Alice & Olivia to be sourcing furs from a farm in China in which raccoon dogs and foxes were kept in piles of their own feces, electrocuted, and skinned alive. In Finland, where nearly four million foxes, polar foxes, minks, polecats and racoon dogs are raised and killed for their fur on farms, arctic foxes are typically kept in 8.6 square ft. wire cages (and minks in 2.7 sq. ft cages). An investigation into Finnish fur farms found frequent cases of open wounds, leg and ear injuries, cannibalism, lame animals, gum infections, dead animals left in cages with living animals, and more.)

The International Fur Federation, on the “Ethics” section of its own website, essentially waves its hand at the problem of animal cruelty, noting that “the main goal of many anti-fur groups is to deny other members of society the right to make their own individual choice.”

Individual rights are cool. But there’s no need to flex them by wearing a dead animal whose suffering has been rendered completely unnecessary by the highly imitable nature of its pelt.

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