Fur buyers and designers just got together in Montreal for a little fur trade show. Last season the fur community was a little depressive since the recession put a damper on fur sales, but this season spirits were lifted. The colder winter weather helped get furs out the door, mostly sheared and reversible styles. The owner of Kriegsman furs in North Carolina said mink pieces up to about $3,000 "sold well" this winter. However the fur industry must now learn to deal with a roughly 30 to 50 percent uptick in mink prices.
Customers will have to learn to deal with it, too: With the price hike, mink-inclined folk may have to settle for beaver or fox pieces. They might even have to look really poor and go for a mink-mix piece that's mostly leather or cashmere with a few tufts of mink on it. Yet many buyers and sellers at the convention said customers were looking for "fashion" in their furs. And what says "fashion" to a serious fur buyer more than a patchwork of materials?
The Canadian fur industry could also benefit from the mink price uptick. After fur exports declined by $95 million from 2008 to 2009, more fur buyers may look into seal furs, which cost 60 percent less than mink. Though seal fur is banned in the U.S., it's being promoted increasingly heavily in China, for example, as an affordable alternative to mink. Looks like Nigel Barker has a little traveling to do! Good thing André Leon Talley can hold down the fort now.