MONTREAL — Interest in fur is going strong and this month’s North American Fur and Fashion Exhibition in Montreal is virtually sold out.

The event, scheduled for May 8-11 at Place Bonaventure, is nearing its capacity of 158 exhibitors, said Alan Herscovici, executive vice president of the Fur Council of Canada. Half of the 200 collections to be shown will be Canadian fur, leather, shearling and accessories. American companies will make up 35 percent and other nations, including Italy, Spain, France, England, Turkey and Hungary, will constitute the remaining 15 percent.

Almost 4,000 buyers are expected to attend NAFFEM, based on attendance figures from previous years.

With the increasing value of the euro against both the Canadian and U.S. dollars, Herscovici anticipates more European buyers this year. NAFFEM is also targeting Russian buyers, who have been buying Canadian wild furs.

“We’ve always had a few Russian buyers, but we’re expecting about 40 for this show as a result of our recent hiring of Oksana Moroz, a Ukrainian, as our new buyer recruitment representative for the Russian and Eastern European markets,” Herscovici said.

Moroz’s experience includes 15 years with Rosenberg & Lenhart, a German-Ukrainian fur manufacturer, where she was involved in product development and was responsible for the Eastern European market.

Based in Toronto, Moroz is also working with the North American Fur Association to bring buyers from Russia and Eastern Europe to NAFA’s fur sales.

“Another factor that will impact the fur market is a 50 percent increase in mink prices since last year, which allows a better spread in price points,” Herscovici said. “When mink prices are too low, it squeezes the margins of wild furs.”

Although this past winter, with some warm spells, was not as strong as the year before, many buyers still booked early for NAFFEM, which is a good indication that writing activity will be strong at the show, he said.

“We’ve also brought back Kevin Graff, a retail specialist near Toronto, to give a seminar on how to sell luxury goods,’’ Herscovici said. “He has sent out briefing notes to exhibitors on how to prepare properly for a trade show.”  

This story first appeared in the May 3, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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