TruthAboutFur: What is the story behind the shop?

Paul Twigg: Lazare’s has been an institution in the Windsor/Detroit region since 1925. My career in the fur business began in 1988. My training was in Copenhagen, with Birger Christensen, the prestigious Danish fur house, and I ran their fur departments across Canada at Holt Renfrew. In 1992, a partner and I were able to buy Lazare’s.

TaF: What do you like about being a retail furrier?

PT: I see our fur business like a fine car dealership. We have new styles and looks to show each year, but our on-going relationship with our customers is equally important. Unlike many businesses, our job doesn’t end when we sell a coat; we see our customers Spring and Fall, when they pick up or bring in their coats for annual cleaning and cold storage. This also gives us the opportunity to inspect the coat and do any minor repairs before they become major.

TaF: How has the fur business changed since you first began?

PT: As our life-styles have changed, so has fur. We now dress more casually and live more actively – and the weather is also more erratic. In response, we see lots more short coats and jackets, styles you can wear with jeans or anytime. Fur apparel is much lighter weight than before, and the furs are often sheared and reversible….providing a much more versatile and wearable garment.

TaF: Can you describe for me your average customer?

PT: Although we have customers of all ages, I would say that a very typical customer today is a young, professional woman who is settled and confident. She works hard and often makes her own money; she appreciates good quality, well-made clothing and other products. It used to be mostly older people buying furs, but that is no longer true. We are seeing a new generation discovering the pleasures of wearing fur!

TaF: What would you say to a young woman who has never owned a fur coat, but is thinking of buying one?

PT: I would say: “Try it!” Fur is the warmest and most comfortable clothing you will ever buy. And it’s an ecologically responsible choice: a natural, long-lasting material that has withstood the test of time!

TaF: What are your top tips for choosing fur?

PT: The most important thing is to try lots of different furs, and see which ones you like. We will ask new customers about their lifestyle: do you dress for business, do you go out for dinner or social functions a lot. That helps us guide the consumer to the right type of fur. After that, we encourage them to try things on. When their eyes light up, when they keep coming back to the same piece, you know you’ve found it!

TaF: What do you think are some of the most exciting new fur products available now?

PT: While the dramatic full-length coat still has its place, we are now selling many more jackets and reversibles and combinations of fur with textile or leather or other materials. All this makes the new styles much more accessible and suitable for our active modern lifestyles.

TaF: What is the best way to keep furs in top shape?

PT: Annual cleaning and storage are essential to protect your furs and ensure that you will be able to enjoy them for many years to come. We clean furs to remove dust, dirt and body oils that can get into the fur with normal use – just like we wash our hair. Cold storage with controlled humidity helps prevent the fur leather from drying out, so that the pelts remain supple and strong.

TaF: What is the best part about working with fur?

PT: One of the extraordinary advantages of fur is that your coat can be taken apart and completely transformed as fashions change. Shearing can give new life to an old mink, raccoon, fox or coyote coat. New techniques allow us to transform your old coat into a lightweight and trendy new reversible. And new fur knitting techniques allow us to revitalize even older furs that would be too fragile for traditional remodeling, by integrating cotton yarn to strengthen the fur during the knitting process. This is all good news for consumers who have – or inherit – old coats that may no longer be styles they want to wear.

TAF: Some people are intimidated by going into a fur store – what do you say to them?

PT: People sometimes think that you can’t go into a fur store without being a millionaire, but nothing could be further from the truth. Today, most fur stores have a wide range of fur products and accessories that are very affordable. We also have our mark-down racks and a “pre-used furs” section, just like a luxury car dealer. And many fur stores now also have non-fur products too: handbags, scarves, accessories. In any case, as a retailer, I would always want you to come into my store and look around. No one should be shy about going into a fur store – that’s why we’re there!

TaF: What do you see as a major trend on the fur scene?

PT: Absolutely one of the hottest trends today is the sheared mink jacket. Also, jackets of all types, reversible furs and accessories.

TaF: What is the best part about being a retail furrier?

PT: I think it is a very exciting time to be a retail furrier; there are so many beautiful and exciting products now for every lifestyle and pocketbook. And I am also proud to be maintaining a remarkable craft heritage – and to be working with such a beautiful, natural and ecologically responsible product. If you haven’t been into a fur store recently, come visit – I think you will be pleasantly surprised!

Also see this story about Lazare’s printed in the Windsor Star in 2015!