Fashion is always one season ahead. We view autumn collections in February and forthcoming Spring designs in September, so it should come as no surprise that Fur Fashion Week takes place in mid-June. The Fur Information Council of America (FICA) celebrated its 27th anniversary with a five-day [June 12-June 16] extravaganza; An Intimate Affair With Fur, highlighted upcoming industry trends and styles. This year's exciting lineup included collections from Carmen Marc Valvo, Helen Yarmak, Sorbara Furs, Adrienne Landau, Global Furs Inc., Natural Furs International, Mink Mart Inc., Orlando New York, Jekel, Alexandros, Zuki International, Tendler Collection, and Cassin. The showcase culminated with the Council's annual 'Man of the Year' dinner. Keith Kaplan, FICA's Executive Director was this year's honoree with a dinner held at Murano's Ristorante.
According to the website, the Fur Information Council of America was established in 1987 as the Fur Trade Association of the United States. FICA is affiliated with organizations such as the International Fur Trade Federation (IFTF), headquartered in London. The non-profit agency provides background information and guidance on industry developments, researches market trends and consumer habits, tracks and reports sales and price points, identifies issues of common concerns, represents fur industry in dealings with the press and public sector and other industries, as well as state and federal governments. FICA also monitors legislative initiatives and judicial actions that have a direct impact on the fur industry. FICA's membership is made up of more than 1400 fur manufacturers and retailers in the U.S. and Canada.
Mr. Kaplan's friends and colleagues came out to lend their support and honor him for all the great work he's done on behalf of the industry. 'He stimulates fresh thinking with his direct communication strategies while balancing cultural diversity in the global fur industry,' said Juliette Bailey Executive Director of the International Fur Trade Federation. Described as a dear friend to the industry 'who has urged the film industry to place products, he's also lobbied senate support and legislation on our behalf,' added FICA Vice Chairwoman Melissa Smart. 'He's an unselfish forward-thinker and leader' so hard-working from DC to Hollywood projects; he's the glue that holds us all together.'
'Fur sales continue their upward trend reflecting fur's importance in today's fashion,' explains Keith Kaplan. 'In 1985, only 42 fashion designers were using fur in their ready to wear collections. Today there are more than 400 renowned fashion designers showing fur fashions, coats, and fur-trimmed merchandise appealing to a broad cross section of consumers.' Southwick Association, which began compiling data for the industry 15 years ago, reported sales of $1.8 billion in 2003, a 7.5% increase from the year prior and a whopping 80% growth since 1991. According to a recent study by WWD, more than 74% of U.S. retailers now carry fur products in their stores. The Financial Times also reported a 400% increase in the number of stores carrying fur worldwide over the past five years. The IFTF reported in February that fur sales have increased for the seventh consecutive year, reaching $12.77 billion in the U.S. alone, a 9.1% increase over last year.
Many of the week's highlights ranged from contemporary uses of fur with playful and trendy samples in a Lippi print or innovative and bold infusions of color to the more traditional looks we've come to expect with sumptuous mink and chinchilla coats. No matter what your age, occasion, or climate, there is a perfect fur for you. Fur fashion week took a cue from the fall ready to wear women's collections by presenting a blend of prints, embellishments, and luxe fabrics. ESKO by Alexandros combined mink and fox with cashmere. Jekel infused fox trims and embroidered suede into their shearling collection. Helen Yarmak's ballerina-inspired line seemed to take inspiration from a Degas painting with golden minks and bronze appliques. Carmen Marc Valvo who was inspired by his ready to wear line created 'shutter pleated' minks in capelets and full lengths. Adrienne Landau's ruffled knitted mink and Zuki's reversible mink and fur coats with encrusted details and embellishments exemplified the growing advancements in fur design.
Smaller pieces and sexy silhouettes continued to be a mainstay in fur fashion with Tendler's chinchilla shrug and Global Furs swakara capelets. These chic pieces are the perfect complement to top off an evening gown or to dress up a pair of jeans. Vests were also a popular item this season, with Cassin showing mink and fox varieties and Mink Mart's swakara and leather lined vests. These small pieces allow today's woman to affordably add touches of fur throughout her wardrobe.
This year's presentations expanded into new directions with vintage inspirations, a line especially designed for the more full-figured woman, and even a line of home fashion! Vintage was all the rage as demonstrated in the Jerry Sorbara Collection and in the Aggelo for Mink Mart line with the mod Edie Sedgwick-inspired Lippi coats. Tendler Furs' Collection of lavish minks was embellished with vintage cameos and lace. Designed for women size 14 and over, Leon Hall's 'The Divas Collection' was inspired by beautiful women of size. Adrienne Landau interpreted fur fashions for the home with a collection of cozy fur throws and pillows.
It's been a few months since I engaged in that seasonal east coast ritual of packing my winter wardrobe of tweeds, wools, and furs and unpacking a trunk of tank tops, sandals, and flirty sundresses. One might expect that as I bid adieu to winter doldrums and welcomed the arrival of soaring temperatures, that the thought of bundling up in fox, mink, and sable ('oh my') would have left me a bit hot under the collar, but the truth is that I love fall fashions. It's always been my favorite time of year; it's when I eagerly anticipate the arrival of 700-page glossy editions, chock-a-block with all that's new for the season. Living in New York, I find myself homesick for San Francisco's moderate climate; I could [nearly] wear the same clothes year-round, with slight variation. It's unexpectedly chilly there in July though, which may be the perfect time to don a fur, or at least a coat with fur trim; in fact, I'm quite certain I have. One thing's for certain, with all the beautiful selections presented during Fur Fashion Week there will be no shortage of luxurious furs to wrap myself up in come September as I rotate my wardrobe once again! This may be just the incentive I need to look forward to winter'
Images provided courtesy of the Fur Information Council of America, for more information, please visit www.fur.org
Special thanks to Sandy Blye at Blye Media Relations for coordinating the release of press materials and images.