There’s a bright future for the North American fur trade if the excitement of fashion students at the recent Montreal Fur Rendezvous is anything to judge by. This past Fall (November 2-3), leaders of the industry joined forces to bring marketing and design students from three of Montreal’s top fashion colleges a taste of new directions in the fur trade.
Saga Furs presented a collection of innovative fur apparel and accessories from their Fur Vision collection – modern creations that are definitely not your grandma’s old fur coat. Saga also brought hot young New York designer Romeo Hunte, who the students embraced like a rock star. They listened intently as Hunte explained his approach to working with fur, and were especially attracted to his giant blue fox Teddy Bear backpack, fur sneakers, and intarsia denim pants. The Saga Fur Vision team also demonstrated new fur-sewing techniques that greatly expand the designer’s palette.
Mink farmers Rob Bollert and Rob Dietrich manned the Canada Mink Breeders Association booth where students could see and touch some of the natural fur colours that have been developed (dyeing is really not needed!), and learn about the excellent animal care required to produce the quality of mink North America is known for.
“The students were very interested in learning that mink health and well-being is assured by strict codes of practice, and that Canadian mink farms are inspected and certified to ensure compliance with those standards,” said Rob Bollert. “It was very encouraging to see how open they are to using fur if they are confident that it is produced responsibly.”
Canadian trappers and wild fur were represented by Doug Chiasson of the Fur Institute of Canada (FIC), and Howard Noseworthy of Fur Harvesters Auction (FHA). Montreal manufacturers and wholesalers in attendance included Mitch Fazekas of Mitchie’s Matchings, and Christina Nacos of Natural Furs.
The Montreal Fur Rendezvous was also supported by M-Mode, the Quebec fashion industry “Grappe” (industrial cluster), and CEO Mathieu St-Arnaud was there with several members of his team. Other participants included Écofaune boréale, a research program focused on environmentally sustainable leather tanning and fur dressing, in partnership with First Nations; Fibreshed Quebec, which promotes local textiles following a “soil-to-soil” philosophy; and Mercury Leather, a Montreal-based manufacturer of leather garments.
More than 400 fashion marketing and design students attended the Montreal Fur Rendezvous over the two-day event, while some 50 members of the fur trade attended a cocktail on the first evening, which included a presentation by Saga North America’s Charlie Ross about the current state of world markets.
Saga joined with FHA, the FIC, the CMBA, Mitchie’s Matchings, and other local brokers to donate a collection of dressed pelts to the colleges, to help students experiment with fur.
“It was very exciting to see how enthusiastic these young fashion students are about working with fur, and how interested they are in learning about how the industry is regulated and fur is now certified to ensure that production is sustainable and responsible,” said Ross.
“This was a wonderful event because it is designers and fashion marketers who bring fur to the consumer,” said the FIC’s Doug Chiasson. “This was an extraordinary opportunity to build bridges with tomorrow’s fashion leaders,”