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Disappearing Furriers


Shy_Fur_Guy
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I have noticed that in my surrounding area (50 mile radius) there are so few furriers left. There used to be at least a dozen, but one by one they have gone out of business. We might have 2 or 3 left and I feel like they will be a thing of the past in the next few years. I wonder if this is from a lack of business, or if this is part of the so-called retail apocalypse. It could also be that furriers tend to be family run, so maybe it is simply that the owners are retiring. Are any of you noticing this as well or might this be just a New England thing?

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I wonder if this is from a lack of business, or if this is part of the so-called retail apocalypse.
Your speculation is right on (unfortunately). Furriers in the US are a dying breed for several reasons -
  1. Lack of business. Fewer and fewer people are buying fur products.
  2. Lousy economy where few people can afford furs.
  3. The anti-fur idiots making people afraid to wear fur even though their antics of the past are now classified as terrorism.
  4. Fur not being considered fashionable by many.

There are probably additional reasons, but I cannot think of them at this time.

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Same issue in San Francisco. There used to be dozens of furriers in the City. Now there is only one who sells used furs. Niemen Marcus and Saks 5th Avenue are the only ones that sells new furs. The Board of Supervisors recently passed a new law banning the sale of new furs, effective immediately. The new generation does not care for jewelry and furs so times have also changed.

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The irony isn't lost on me that when I took the plunge and started buying furs, I was making $9.00/hr and had to scour eBay for great deals. Some of them worked out wonderfully, but more often than not, they were less than wearable condition. Now that I am well established in my career and can look to a reputable furrier to buy from, they are all closing down.

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Owning and operating a brick and mortar store, while has it's advantages, can sometimes be a financial burden. I knew of a furrier who had a small spot in a mall and eventually confessed they were going to close it because rent was somewhere around $9k a month.

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Shy_fur_guy, whereabouts are you? New England isn’t too far from New York, Montreal, Toronto, right? I guess it’s all relative, but you have 3 major fur centres nearby (compared to folks in the UK!).

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I guess three furriers is better than none. Are there still people who wear furs in the winter in Boston? I remember going there one time in February. We took the commuter train and there was a lady wearing a full length mink coat.

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@minkme they are incredibly rare. Been in the city for almost a decade and outside of New Year's Eve I see possibly two or three per winter. New Year's Eve on the other hand, you'd have to have your head on a swivel to see them all.

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I sometimes wonder if it is not just a fashion thing, but it is related more to the point that in the US and UK, people have dumbed down dramatically with their every day clothing. People in the street are so scruffy now, and don't seem to take pride in their appearance any more.

 

Compare that to places such as Italy and Poland and to some extent France in the cities (although less fur in France) where I see girls and women who really like to think about their clothes, and dress really well.

 

Italian women especially seem to have an in-built instinctive awareness of style, and even choose casual clothes to make themselves look smart and pleasing to the eye, (for men and women). This is possibly a reason why I have noticed that fur is much more abundant in Italy, even on young women, especially in winter.

 

It's certainly not a price thing either. You can buy a reasonable fur accessory such as a stole or collar these days for the same price as a cashmere, wool or silk accessory,depending on where you shop. It's merely because people don't care anymore about their appearance.

 

Just a few decades back, going out in the evening to a play or concert, men would wear jackets and ties, and their partner would not look out of place beside them wearing a fur stole or bolero, or a fur coat to get to the theatre. Nowadays however, even in the London Opera House I have seen the guys wearing just polo shirts and slacks. A lady partner accompanying them would look quite overdressed beside them if she was wearing a fur stole. You do still occasionally see smart couples where the lady is wearing fur, but whereas it used to be the norm, it is now the exception.

 

Interestingly, you often see fur on smarter dressed women (not necessarily richer) when they are on there own, and not walking beside a more scruffily dressed partner who they are trying to match in style.

 

It is a great shame really, it is not all just a fashion thing as I say, it is just not caring about how you look. People forget ,or have never experienced that when you look good, you feel good, and your behaviour tends to be better accordingly, and a better time is had by all. There is no denying the difference in confidence and bearing that you see in women when they wear a fur of some sort. It feels good to them, it looks good, and they feel better about themselves because of it.

 

The explosion of cheap,functional pretty uninteresting, mass produced clothing has a great deal to blame for people happy to be scruffy. Unfortunately furriers are pretty helpless to be able to combat this this. People have got to start taking a pride in their appearance again before fur will be popular again. I just hope that furriers can hang on till then.

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Filene's Basement in Boston had a leased fur department. Evans had it at the end, I believe. It was always a must stop on any visit to the city. I still have and wear garments from them.

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Ravens8, you're spot on about people (at least in the States from what I can tell)... casual, frumpy clothes with little if any thought put into it are what most people can be seen wearing. Sweat-pants, hoodies, pajamas even, it's a Wal-mart world, total cultural apocalypse. At least where I'm at, despite it not being the most fur-conducive place in the country, you see a fair share of faux furs in the autumn and winter time - mostly vests and furry boots with a few coats thrown in, often paired with riding boots and infinity scarves. I've come across several real furs at bars and clubs, but yeah, most people dress down like they're about to curl up on the couch with some Netflix.

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Here in Scotland there are only two furthers left in the country i am aware of. In winter here you can see a fair amount of fur (majority is faux and poor at that) particularly where there are large student populations but these are all from charity or vintage stores. Price also is major factor. Was quoted minimum £2000 for new fur jacket from one outlet!! Thank god for eBay and similar. Sign o' the times I guess.

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I think its just in general that lots of stores are closing and fur stores are not that popular because they are expensive. So they will close sooner

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In Montreal things are no better. We had 2 major fur houses close and now there are just a few small ones around. This last winter as cold as it was up until February, my wife and I were out in our furs either in the city or the country and maybe we saw a handful the whole winter season. My close friend is in the business or remodeling and repairing furs and he is almost out of business as there is no work. It does not look good for the industry that already does not have an upcoming generation to carry on the craftsmanship required. My wife and I enjoy wearing our furs and do so whenever we can. Most people whether young or old appreciate and ask questions, etc.. When the cold weather does not get them out of the closet then we are in a sorry state.

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Which places have closed in Montreal?

 

I was under the impression that business was good in Montreal. My furrier there is always busy, but they have an international client base. However, I would agree that you don’t see many furs on the streets in the city centre.

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In germany it's no better. In my town the last furrier closed three years ago and went into retirement. But I understand his (and others) business was not going quite well because the shop was a bit old-fashioned and the furs and leather jackets were presented poorly. And he was a little odd.

 

Now my preferred furrier is some 100 km's away in a town I visit regularly. They are doing fine, also because they specialized in refurbishment of furs. And they have a quite modern shop and selection of furs and leather jackets. Last but not least they are very friendly and it's a pleasure to go there.

 

So, if you work on your business and your skills, you still got a chance.

 

But generally people are buying less and less new real (as we understand it) fur coats nowadays. Price, style and society are the driving forces here. Yet people buy fur hoods instead.

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Ravens8, i agree with you completely. We are at a very low ebb in terms of dressing. It used to be that if you worked in an office in the US, you had to wear at least a sportcoat and tie. Now, most companies dont even have a dress code anymore. I hope things go back to being more formal.

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Another factor maybe the general demise of brick and mortar stores, not just furriers. In the age of Amazon, more and more people are choosing to buy online, rather than at stores. In case of furs, a fur hat that may sell for upwards of $200 can be had on aliexpress for just $40. A mink coat that would retail for $5000 at a furrier may be bought online for maybe half that price.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm new here, but there is one small thing I'd like to add. I feel part of it, is poor use of social media that is contributing to this. Russian Furriers are all over Instagram and some I know of, post pictures of various furs they sell several times a day. I think some American Furriers have not used social media to it's full potential and it's hurt them.

 

There's a major Furrier in the Midwest United states I know of, that has no Instagram page and a twitter account not updated in more than a year and a half, though they do have a web page There's another one not too far from me, it's a smaller furrier that's been around for years but again they have a web page, but no twitter and no Instagram.

 

A lot of young people use both and this is a perfect and inexpensive marketing tool to reach possible younger customers. It's like they're not even trying. Social media can also be used, to counteract the online propaganda of a certain anti-fur organization which I will not name.

 

On the contrary, Flemington Furs in New Jersey, I feel is doing a good job and seems to be really reaching out with a good social media marketing campaign.

 

I wish it were different But some furriers in the United States have totally dropped the ball on this. They really need to get out there.

 

Mr. G

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We still have a few shops in the Chicagoland area. It's not what it used to be mind you, but still there is around 6 shops in the greater metropolitan area and suburbs. And chicago as of last winter was really a hot spot for furs. I'm really looking forward to seeing what it looks like next year.

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An interesting point and possibly very true. However many of the remaining furriers in the US are mom & pop shops and cannot afford the time or personnel to do social media properly.

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