Value Chain

Fur Europe represents the entire value chain of the European fur sector including farmers, trappers, auction houses, brokers and buyers, design centres, dressers and dyers, manufacturers and retailers. At the centre of the European fur sector, Fur Europe’s job is to facilitate the continued development of historical and cultural European heritage in a responsible manner.

 

Farmers

European fur farmers produce 44 million farmed fur skins of the species mink, fox, finnraccoon and chinchilla annually. The production makes up almost 50% of the global production. Highly innovative breeding software makes sure that European fur farmers are at the forefront in breeding selection on various genetic parameters related to quality, health, animal welfare, production and the development of new fur types. Fur is farmed more than 5,000 farms in 22 European countries and is solely located in rural areas where the productions are important to local economies.

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Trapping

European hunters are not organised under the Fur Europe umbrella, but due to their market-leading positions the European fur auction houses offer a wide selection of wild fur during their auctions. In extension of this Fur Europe and the European fur sector supports the development and humane trapping standards and works to implement the Agreement on International Humane Trappings Standards (AIHTS) in Europe.

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Auction houses

Europe is home to the world’s two largest international fur auction houses, Saga Furs in Helsinki and Kopenhagen Fur in Denmark. The auction houses are at the centre of the international fur trade as the auction houses both collect and sell fur skins during a total of nine annual auctions that gathers the international fur trade in the two European capitals. Due to advanced sorting technology the European auction houses offer advanced intersorting of fur skins which is sought after by international fur customers and unmatched in the world.

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Brokers and buyers

Buyers of fur from the European auction houses travel in from all over the world. In order to establish the correct world market price for raw fur skins, the international fur auctions are surrounded by the highest level of transparency. Price levels are publicly communicated, and anyone has the opportunity to participate in the bidding. Most often, however, the buying of fur at the international auctions happens through fur brokers. These professionals are trusted to buy millions of fur skins on behalf of their customers due to their expertise on skin quality and skills within areas like logistics, taxation, insurance and financing. Quickly growing to become the centre of the international fur trade after World War II, London remains at the heart of fur trade and the home of many international fur brokers.

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Dressers and Dyers

In order to obtain its long-lasting abilities the raw fur skins require special chemical treatment. Dressers and dyers can also give fashionable colours to fur skins, or shear or pluck them which enhance the creative possibilities of the fur material. Product development also includes laser print and press pattern, and the processing of raw fur skins are done by dressers and dyers. In Europe the processing takes place in Greece, Germany, Italy, Poland, Lithuania and Denmark. The European dresser and dyers are subjects to the European Union’s REACH regulation (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation, and Restriction of Chemicals) that is adopted to protect human health and the environment from the risks of chemicals.

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Manufacturers

Even though much of the European manufacturing of fur garments has been outsourced to China a considerable fur manufacturing cluster still remains in Europe. As opposed to other textiles, the fur material requires delicate craftsmanship which is a traditional European core competence. A large part of the fur manufacturing companies are family-owned businesses which have existed for several generations. In recent years, the product development of fur has entered entirely new areas and today fur is used in the production of shoes, handbags, hats, keyhangers, jewellery, furniture, and decorations and interior. The major centres of fur manufacturing in Europe are located in Italy, Greece and Germany.

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Design centres

Knowledgesharing is the keyword for Europe’s three fur design centres. Saga Furs Design Centre and Kopenhagen Studio are operated by the two European fur auction houses and are both located in the Copenhagen area in Denmark. The Dutch Fur Breeders’ Association operates FurLab in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. All the design centres are dedicated to develop new fur techniques and ways of working with fur and share the knowledge with established designers as well as design students from all over the world. The creative outreach of the European fur design centres is also established through partnerships with the world’s highest ranked design universities, commercial design brands and other outside stakeholders. The longest running design centre of the three, Saga Furs Design Centre has had more than 30,000 visits from designers since 1988.

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Retailers

Traditionally sold solely from furriers, the fur retail sales in Europe today follow the trend of other products and are nowadays sold and distributed through a variety of sales channels. These include fashion boutiques, commercial brands, decoration and interior shops, department stores, and online sales in addition to the traditional local furriers. The historical European furrier craft still play an important role in the European fur sector because the furriers – quite often family-owned businesses - have the expertise to repair and remodel fur garments. The latter has grown to become a popular activity amongst the ever more responsible consumers who are attracted by the environmental benefits attached to a product lasting for decades.

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