As global fashion focuses on the importance of utilizing environmentally sound materials and production techniques, fur has undoubtedly stood fashion’s test of time and will continue to do so as fashion directors and designers using natural fur see it as an artistic platform that allows them to create and innovate.
From the wearer’s perspective, choosing natural fur fashion is an investment that will provide enjoyment with each use – for glam or casual luxe – now and in the future. Claire Sulmers, chief executive officer of the popular fur positive blog Fashion Bomb Daily (@FashionBombDaily), extols fur as a wardrobe essential stating, “For me, now it has become one of those staples. Even when I go to the nail salon, I’m wearing a fur coat. I think for me, as far as fashion is concerned, it’s luxurious, it’s warm, and it really makes a statement.”
Wearing fur has, unsurprisingly, been wildly popular among street-style influencers, especially during winter fashion seasons. Brightly colored fur coats and mink-trimmed outerwear offer influencers a spare approach to volume, filling streets outside of shows with maximum effect.
The element that natural fur adds to a look Sally Lapointe, founder and designer of her namesake brand, tells WWD Studios is: “Emotion.”
Lapointe says she continues to get very inspired by new trends in fur design like using special color stories. “Every season we do custom dye furs to work seamlessly back to the collection. I am really pushing myself to think of fur in transitional ways,” said Lapointe. “I am experimenting right now with different ways to construct fur garments that can be multi-use and transition from season to season.”
As a fashion material, designers utilize natural fur in styles that offer versatile day to evening and work to weekend wearability. “The designing of fur has become more casual – available to a much wider audience, and no longer thought of as your grandmother’s coat,” said Norman Ambrose, designer and founder of his namesake brand. “Current trends gravitate to the use of important color, embellishment, and manipulations to mimic fabrics making the material less obvious.”
Designs utilizing mixed mediums are also gaining in popularity. Saks Potts, the Copenhagen-based fashion and outerwear label, has gained an almost cult-like following from street style stars and influencers who love the brand’s offerings of fur-trimmed leather coats. And notably, the trend has earned the attention of a younger generation searching for distinctive eco-friendly fashion.
Nicole Smith, manager of the International Fur Federation’s ReMix Student Design Competition in the U.S. and administrative director at the Fur Information Council of America, explained that through the ReMix program and competition young designers are “fearless” and “adventurous” always working to expand designs for something fresh.
“They design with their age group in mind, which is fantastic for the industry,” said Smith. “They’re taking it even further. Accessories and bright colors because there are no rules really when it comes to fashion. They know no limitations; they know no bounds. It’s nothing to throw on a great purple fox fur bag with yellow sneakers. They love that, they crave that, and you see it in the designs they come up with.”
As students, Smith said, these young designers are also learning about traceability and sustainability as important factors when working with fur and become very well educated in sourcing materials. “Even though the fur industry has been around for many decades we still have a lot to learn. Our consumer base is changing and we have to hear them and incorporate their thoughts and wishes and wants on how we do business as well,” Smith told WWD Studios.
Within the ReMix program students are also required to provide reasoning as to why they have designed a piece, thinking from a sustainability mentality through the design process and not just “designing to design.” Along the learning process, she says, students gain an inherent respect for the material as well. “I think they become very conscious designers,” said Smith. “They understand that they are artisans and keepers of an age-old product that built America. To them, they’re not just creating a garment for one person, they are creating a heritage item to be passed down.”
Designing for Longevity
Natural fur pieces, after all, are items that are meant to be enjoyed by generations through the years, even decades.
“It is incredibly satisfying designing a piece that you know will get passed on and last for a very long time,” said Lapointe. “Fur is one of those materials that is 100 percent reusable for future generations.” Further, Lapointe says, women love to wear fur because it “serves two wonderful things in life: beauty and function.”
Ambrose, too, says his inspiration is derived from a mindful intention to create longevity. “I design with a timeless quality and one of individuality, that is difficult to replicate,” said Ambrose. “I want the woman who my designs are made for to feel that she owns the world every time she puts on a Norman Ambrose piece.”
“In my opinion, women who love to wear fur do so because they are strong-minded,” said Ambrose. “Fur is alluring, projects wealth, and can be intoxicating in a romantic way.”