Denmark’s coronavirus-driven mink cull has put the fur trade in a spin, with industry officials expecting fashion houses such as Louis Vuitton, Dior and Fendi to snap up fox and chinchilla to fill the hole.
The global fur business, worth more than $22 billion a year, is reeling from Denmark’s decision to kill 17 million farmed mink after Covid-19 outbreaks at hundreds of farms led to the discovery of a new strain of coronavirus in the mammals.
Worries of a sudden scarcity of slinky mink pelts, of which Denmark was once the top exporter, have lifted prices by as much as 30% in Asia, the International Fur Federation (IFF) says.
Now, all eyes are on Finland, where one million mink and 250,000 fox pelts will soon be up for grabs for buyers in Korea, China, the US and elsewhere next week. Auction house Saga Furs plans to hold the international sale, the first since the Danish cull, via livestream from December 15.
A sales programme offers mink fur from both Europe and North The united states, such as “Pearl Velvet” and “Silverblue Velvet” mink, along with “Silver Fox”, “White Finnraccoon” and Russian sable.
Saga Furs, which final year took over its North American rival NAFA, expects to sell all of the pelts, compared with a 55% take-up so far in 2020 on account of the coronavirus crisis.
“The market will make stronger, an increase in prices will help our trade in general,” Saga Furs CEO Magnus Ljung said of the industry, which has seen years of falling prices.
“We’ve already had more requests approximately foxes, whether people see that there’s a lack of mink, they could imagine the use of something else,” Ljung told Reuters.
LVMH’s head of sustainability Helene Valade said this week that the dressing luxury group obtains fur from Finland. The owner of Louis Vuitton, Dior and Fendi, which relies on brokers to tender, says it is the use of only 100% certified mink, fox and finnraccoon.
Fur demand has been falling since the 1950s, apart from for a rise between 2000 and 2013 when it was once popular on fashion runways and Chinese appetite for luxury pelts boomed, Lise Skov, an academic who researched the Danish fur industry, said.
A typical mink pelt sold for more than $90 at auction in 2013, while final year skins fetched around $30. This was once despite a fall in global production to just under 60 million pelts final year, from more than 80 million in 2014.
Euromonitor predicts the value of fur and fur products, both real and faux, will fall by 2.6% this year.
Is fur finished?
A Danish breeder-owned cooperative that sold 25 million mink hides final year, or 40% of the global complete, is thinking about selling its brand and other assets after announcing that it would gradually shut down operations over the next 2-3 years.
Kopenhagen Fur CEO Jesper Lauge Christensen told Reuters he had received expressions of interest from Chinese customers to take over the auction house’s brand, which he said could be valued at up to 1 billion Danish crowns ($163 million).
It still plans to sell some 25 million pelts over the next two years, from Danish farms not infected by the virus, frozen stocks and foreign animals.
Animal activists hope the Danish debacle, which has had political repercussions in the country, will finish off the fur industry and demand for items such as $1,700 fur trinkets, $16,000 fur vests and $60,000 fur coats will disappear.
Countries and states which have already banned fur farms or fur products includes Britain, Austria, the Netherlands, France, Norway, Israel and California.
PJ Smith, director of fashion policy at Humane Society International, says that brands still the use of real fur will ditch it soon, following Gucci, Prada, Armani and others.
But for now, Kopenhagen Fur’s Christensen said fashion brands in Europe had expressed concern they will be unable to find a similar quality to the Danish mink furs.
“Some of the biggest challenges from the brand perspective is that the unique Danish qualities will be disappearing from the collection and you can not source that product elsewhere.”
He said he was once taking a look at selling warehouse facilities and equipment such as automated vision machinery to grade the skins.
China, followed by Russia, is the biggest buyer of Danish fur as its own mink are regarded as of lower quality than those raised in Europe, where breeding standards are most often higher.
“We wouldn’t make a selection Chinese-made fur because of its naughty quality,” Zhang Changping, owner of China’s Fangtai Fur, told Reuters, adding that it had already bought enough fur no less than for the first half of 2021.
Fangtai would shift to auctions in Finland whether Denmark failed to provide enough mink sooner or later, he said.
Niccolò Ricci, chief executive of Italian luxury designer label Stefano Ricci which has many clients in Russia and eastern Europe, said he expected mink prices to increase by up to 50% but that high-end labels like his would continue to seek high quality pelts, chiefly from U.S. suppliers.
“The real scarcity could come from 2022, but by then we hope mink farmers in Canada, Poland, The united states and Greece will increase production to replace Danish output,” said IFF head Mark Oaten. Russia and China are also expected to hike output.
“People can be taking a look at other types of fur. Fox has been very popular for trimmings, in parkas for instance. Wild fur may be rising in popularity, as is chinchilla,” Oaten added.
(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.)
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