MONTREAL — After back-to-back unseasonably warm winters, fur designers and retailers are dealing with the anemic economy and tightened consumer spending.
If those challenges weren't enough, strong demand for mink in Russia and China has spiked prices 20 percent. Mink accounts for about 75 percent of all fur sales, setting the benchmark for all prices, said Erik Neergaard, sales director for Kopenhagen Fur in Denmark, the world's largest auction house for mink pelts.
These were among the issues industry executives discussed at the 26th annual North American Fur & Fashion Exhibition in Montreal at Place Bonaventure April 29 to May 2.
Canadian fur exports were $381 million last year, compared with $451 million in 2006, a drop of about 15 percent, largely because of the declining value of the U.S. dollar, which is the currency in which most fur transactions are conducted. Last winter's warm weather and increased competition from China also affected fur exports.
"This season started strongly, but economic fears kicked in," said Alan Herscovici, executive vice president of the Fur Council of Canada, which organizes NAFFEM. "And certain areas around New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia didn't get the snow that other parts of the country got, which slowed sales a bit."
As a result, several retailers are carrying higher inventory than normal and shopped the show for novelty items to entice customers who are bringing in their furs for storage.
Several new collections premiered at the show, including Bill Blass for Natural Furs, Dominic Bellissimo for Gimpex, Mazzi Made in Italy for Jean Crisan and Stern Rockwell for Tanatar America.
"I love the Bill Blass team, and this represents a big growth area for us through trunk shows and through Saks," said Christina Nacos of Natural Furs here, who spends most of her time running Natural's New York showroom. "The growth in this industry is through labels, and to me, the story of Bill Blass for next season is color like purple, jade and olive."
The Bill Blass collection of 25 fur pieces consists of silver fox, lamb and mink combinations and micro sheared mink, which Nacos described as "very much a city line."Dominic Bellissimo designed a line ranging from reversible technical stretch rainwear to leather jackets, as well as white shearling, white fox and baby lamb and suede jackets for Toronto-based Gimpex.
"Shearling has not been that strong in the last five years and so I want to take Gimpex from a shearling house to an outerwear house," Bellissimo said. "But I want to build the collection before taking it to Milan."
The Italian-made Mazzi line for Jean Crisan premiered a collection of luxury fur-trimmed garments using silver and blue fox exclusively from SAGA Furs of Finland. The collection includes short peplum silhouettes with sequined embellishments and gold moiré silk coats with gathered tiered borders.
"Mazzi is well established in Italy and has a huge following in Russia and we have exclusive distribution for North America," said Steve Zuckerman of Jean Crisan, based in Montreal. "But the line is not for mass distribution. It's more focused on ski resorts and holiday wear."
New York-based designer Rockwell used NAFFEM for a soft launch of his new line created for Tanatar of Istanbul.
"It's an ideal venue to get a reaction, and so far, so good," said Rockwell, who has worked for Tiffany & Co., Dior and Cartier. "Tanatar is more conservative, while my line is for a younger crowd. I'm using different skins together, like suede and shearling, embossed tone-on-tone and reversible hoodies with the Rockwell name on the back made from stone sparkles."
From overseeing America’s fastest-growing speciality retailers to codifying cool, WWD talked to the women who are leading the way for the future of beauty. Check out our Instagram Stories to see how these women built today and are creating tomorrow. (📸: @hannah_khymych) #wwdbeauty
For @laperlalingerie's spring 2018 show, the brand chose to host their event at @thevenetianmacao. With Chinese megastars @bingbing_fan and @hubing in attendance, La Perla debuted a rock ‘n’ roll-inspired collection. The show marked the start of Sands Macao Fashion Week, which runs from October 19 to 24 — the city’s first such event. Pictured here are models backstage with glimmering eyes. #wwdfashion (📷: Cheuk-Yin To)
Trending for spring 2018: top stitch design. Gone are the days of stitch just for seams — designers are using the once-minimal detail to create strong decorative elements. (📷: Paola Testa; Styled by @andrew_shang) #wwdfashion
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews
Spotted last night at the @erdem x @hm launch event: Kate Bosworth, Rashida Jones, Kirsten Dunst and Selma Blair. The party, which took place in LA, also marked the opening of their pop-up shop. “I was interested in creating a collection that wasn’t in any way disposable. It was about pieces you’d create and keep forever, things that have a permanence to it,” designer Erdem Moralioglu said. #wwdeye (📷: Katie Jones)
Renee Zellweger in yellow in 2001 and again in 2017. Chosen as one of the 12 @pantone Leading Spring Colors (and dubbed “Meadowlark”), it only makes sense that the bright hue stands the test of time and is making a resurgence this season, seen already on stars like @blakelively and @gigihadid. (📷: Donato Sardello & @rexfeatures) #wwdfashion #tbt
Dior’s 70th anniversary celebration continues with a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. “Christian Dior,” which is scheduled to run through March 18, takes a look at the founders tenure from 1947 to 1057 and feature 40 designs. Pictured here is an evening gown from the Ailée, fall 1948-49 haute couture collection. #wwdfashion (📷: Brian Boyle)