NEW YORK — Steve Gold is moving on after 30 years of plugging Saga Furs of Scandinavia, a major force in attracting American designers to fur.
The marketing firm that bears his name will stop representing Saga, a co-operative of fur breeders in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden, at the end of June.
An executive familiar with the group said changes under way at Saga that may weaken its draw prompted Gold’s decision. Danish breeders will leave Saga in July 2005 to start a new label concept. Jan Erik Carlson, managing director of Saga, said, “It is important to underline that two other major players in Saga company — the Finns and the Norwegians — are going to continue to promote Saga mink and Saga fox worldwide.”
The Danish contingent of fur breeders is the world’s largest producer of mink skins. Some insiders expect that sector to exit the group sooner than the 2005 date.
While “the new Saga in theory will have a smaller budget,” Carlson said the group is looking into revamping its budget and creating new sources of revenue. “The conclusion is that Saga will go on, and we will have the exclusive rights to the Saga name. We have secured the [research and development] Saga staff at the head office and workshop and the international network across the markets is also intact for the future,” Carlson said.
Saga’s designer programs in New York, London, Milan and Paris — a key point in its branding strategy — “will go on more or less unchanged,” he said.
With the fur industry facing lackluster sales in the early Nineties, Gold’s company set up the Saga American Designer Initiative, a program that introduced 100 design firms to fur. European designers followed. Two years ago, Gold initiated Fur Vision to keep designers up to speed about developments and manufacturing techniques. Designers used fur extensively in their fall runway shows in Europe and the U.S. and Gold said Saga sponsored 15 American designers and worked with 40 more.
Charles Ross, who has served as Saga’s account executive at Steve Gold for the past five years, will leave the company to represent Saga.