Global sales of fur are expected to exceed $15 billion (£9.5 billion) this year, new research today has shown as consumers in emerging markets rush to purchase the controversial product.
Consumers in China, Russia and South Korea are driving sales of the luxury item and Chinese imports have increased by 250 per cent within the last 10 years.
The country’s spend on North Americana and European fur reached $600 million while Russia has reported fur sales of almost $ 3 billion annually.
Despite the recession, UK sales are performing well, according to the International Fur Trade Federation (IFTF), which said that: “the UK has seen an especially strong demand for vintage fur as well as new designs”.
The IFTF also noted that all international fur auction houses have reported record sales volumes and prices during the course of this year while, in 2011 the North American market saw spend exceed $1.3 billion, up more than a third on spend in the 1990s, when anti-fur campaigns became widespread and attracted global attention.
While animal rights activists, particularly in the UK and Europe have been prolific in creating campaigns against the use of fur, many designers such as Prada, Gucci and Missoni have begun incorporating the product into their new lines as the taboo item re-emerges.
Interestingly, fur is no longer seen as a ‘cold climate’ material as the ITFT pointed out that there are almost 200 fur retailers in the UAE at present, despite an average temperature of 28 °C.
Middle Eastern and Chinese shoppers have boosted sales of luxury items in the UK in recent years as strong economies and a thirst for high-end Western fashion entice tourists seeking a tax-free shopping trip.
Meanwhile, in the struggling Eurozone, over 100,000 people are employed by the fur sector, contributing about €3.5 billion to the regional economy and fur is the third largest export for debt-ridden Greece.
However, animal rights organisation PETA, which recently called for department store Fortnum & Mason to cease its sales of foie gras, said that the use of fur is unjustifiable.
A spokesperson for the charity told Retail Gazette: “Fur used to be seen as a luxury item, and now it’s so cheap that prostitutes on the street wear it in some parts of the world and workers in China can have fur slippers where once had nothing on their feet at all.
“Pelt prices have been slashed to the quick, and fur sellers are making it into everything they can, from linings to slipper tassels. It’s so debased that they even have to pass it off as faux trim.
“Fur is dead, and the cries of “Fur is back!” that the industry floats about every year are laughable because cruelty is not back in fashion and only the ignorant and arrogant wear it now. A recent poll showed that 95 per cent of Brits would never wear real fur.
“We cannot rely on sales figures from an industry which makes its money by killing animals. If they have no problem killing, they’re not going to be opposed to lying to protect their industry.
“The cruel killing of animals is just as repulsive now as it was 20 years ago. The suffering of minks who go mad from confinement in tiny boxes and foxes who chew off their own feet to escape painful steel-jaw traps will never be “in fashion”.
“Truly talented visionaries and trendsetters like Ralph Lauren, Stella McCartney and Calvin Klein are able to design beautiful, fashionable and popular clothing without getting blood on their hands.
“With all of the chic, cruelty-free options available, including ones which are warmer to boot, to steal animals’ skins is not only cruel but also absurd.”