After 31 years, the Fur Council of Canada is reinventing its signature trade show as StyleLab-Montreal, focusing on luxury outerwear targeted to the high-end boutique market.
The new show, which ran at the Palais des Congrès from 15-17 March, replaces NAFFEM — the North American Fur & Fashions Exposition — in Montreal.
“Fur is increasingly being integrated into general fashion, in accessories or mixed with other materials like cloth and leather,” says Alan Herscovici, executive vice-president of the Fur Council of Canada. They commissioned retail analyst Kevin Graff to look at the market for furs, who suggested that traditional fur shops would do well to transition to a mix of high-end fashion and fur.
“They already have the clientele,’’ Herscovici said of the traditional fur boutique. “They can attract younger, fashion-conscious consumers.”
The new show brought together about 60 exhibitors, mainly from Canada or Canadian agencies, with a few European collections. They included traditional fur specialists like Montreal’s high-end Natural Furs, knit-fur pioneer Paula Lishman and Zuki, known for his wildly patterned coats in many colours.
Also on the floor were pieces by longtime coat queen Hilary Radley and hot young Montreal label UNTTLD, both working with Natural Furs. Calgary designer Paul Hardy showed a line called Lamb.s.Laughter, fusing “politically incorrect humour and responsible quality and design.” And Montreal’s Marisa Minicucci, a luxury sportswear designer, displayed the Minicucci x Marcanio line she developed with her daughter. Jacquard blazers and leather jackets were among her offerings.
Minicucci, who has only worked with fur in the distant past at Irving Samuel doing linings or collars, feels the show is a positive move, especially with the high-quality product on offer.
“Why should we differentiate [between fur and other outerwear]? We’re all in the apparel industry,’’ she said.
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