By  on March 22, 1994

NEW YORK -- While fur sales have been showing a revival over the past two years, more and more furriers have turned to making wool, precious fiber, fake fur coats and real fur trims to keep business perking in a volatile market.

As reported, fur sales rose 9 percent last year, the second consecutive yearly gain, following a 10 percent hike in 1992, according to surveys of fur retailers done for the Fur Information Council of America. Still, fur manufacturers say diversifying collections and expanding into luxury outerwear and fur-trim merchandise has been proving an effective way to increase volume and distribution.

Karl Lagerfeld's mixing of ersatz fur with the real thing in his signature line and the Chanel and Fendi collections he designs caused a stir this month, but New York furrier David Leinoff has been mixing the two under his banner "An Original Furgery" for the past four years.

Leinoff, who is owner and designer of the fur label Davellin, said he started his foray into fake furs because "it was a nice added line to our fur business."

"It's interesting to me that Karl Lagerfeld and other designers are mixing fakes with fur now," he said.

Each season the line features eight different styles that use acetate pile fabric, sometimes combined with real fur trim and wholesaling for $100 to $450.

For fall, key looks include a two-tier green, black and brown patterned princess coat in the pile with fox collar and cuffs, another pile coat trimmed with Lapland sheep and a front flap coat, all in the pile fabric.

"We found that fur patterns adapt to the fakes and vice versa," said Leinoff. "We can do models in fake fur and interpret them in real fur."

Leinoff said that his fake fur line has not affected his original fur collection.

"They are completely different markets," he said. "One doesn't infringe upon the other. People who want a fur will want a fur, and people who want a fake will buy a fake."

Leinoff said that his Furgery line constitutes about 40 percent of his overall volume. He also noted that his fur business last year increased 25 percent over the previous year.

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