PARIS — Boosted by its continuing presence on the runwaysthanks to designers like Marc Jacobs and Phoebe Philo, and new, morecontemporary manifestations, the global fur industry is continuing toboom. Business for the coming winter season is estimated to grow by 6 to7 percent, according to Mark Oaten, chief executive officer of theInternational Fur Trade Federation (IFTF).
“This industry isbeing led by young designers who are using fur in an incredible way,with color; with light designs, which means that you can wear fur in hotclimates; with the use of trim, which is opening up the market to somany people,” Oaten said.
The net worth of the global market wasbetween $15 billion and $16 billion in the 2010-2011 season (theindustry’s business period runs from roughly October through March), thelast period for which data are available, according to IFTF. About$4.5 billion of that figure came from Europe, $6 billion from Asia, $1.5billion from the Americas (mainly North America) and $3 billion fromother markets, primarily Russia.
Growth in consumption is beingdriven by Asia, largely China, and by strong demand in Russia, althoughthe vast majority of farming and production still takes place in Europe,Oaten said. In coming years, he expects to see increased demand fromthe Gulf countries, Turkey and potentially Brazil, notably due totechnological developments that allow lighter-weight products.
“Thismarket tends to follow wealth, but one of the barriers to it followingwealth in the past has been [its nature as] a product for a colderclimate,” he said. “But innovation, with trims and lighter weights,means that we can actually follow wealth, if wealth happens to bedeveloping in countries with hotter climates.”
Attitudes towardfur have altered somewhat since the Eighties and Nineties; cumulatedsales increased 70 percent between 2000 and 2010, according to IFTFfigures.
“I think design has led the consumer attitude change,”Oaten said. “And also a younger generation whose passion is not animalrights. They’re very motivated on environmental issues, more than onanimal-rights issues, and that for us represents a new industry demand,because we have gone a long way to ensure welfare is of the higheststandard.
“There is less focus on welfare. Maybe it’s becausewe’ve got our act together, maybe it’s because attitudes have changed,maybe it’s because they’re seeing fur more on the catwalk, in magazinesand in products that they like,” he explained. “The younger generationloves fur trim, and they are buying it.”
The association has alsoinitiated a life-cycle analysis of the whole fur value chain, theresults of which are in and will allow the federation to develop a setof guiding principles for the industry, which Oaten hopes to makeavailable within nine months.
“Interestingly, we put in somecomparisons with fake fur, because we wanted to look at theenvironmental impact,” he said. “We found all through the chain, as anatural resource, it is having less environmental impact than fake fur.”
Thefur industry is also upping its game in terms of advertising.“Traditionally, we were in [women’s magazines] because we had to be,because magazines were not covering fur,” Oaten explained. This fall,the IFTF will broaden its media reach. In October, the organization willplace its first ad outside the fashion press, in the Economistnewsweekly, and in November, a campaign developed in partnership withdesigner Rick Owens will break in GQ.
“This industry has perhapsbeen a little bit shy, maybe as a kickback to the Eighties and earlyNineties, when it was under attack,” Oaten continued. “Now it’s time tobe on the front foot and say ‘Look, we’re doing incredibly well as anindustry, let’s tell you about it.’”
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