“There is really not a stakeholder group within the fashion community that we haven't "fur touched" in one way or the other"
We have met with Julie Maria Iversen, VP Fashion Partners at Kopenhagen Fur to a talk about how Kopenhagen Fur collaborate with designers and why we developed Kopenhagen Fur Development.
How did Kopenhagen Fur first begin working with brands and designers?
At first it was all about education. Since the launch of our design studio back in 2004, we have had a keen focus on working with design schools in order to make the craft of working with fur more accessible to future designers early on in their respective careers. As the design students turned into talented designers in their own right, we realized it made perfect sense to follow their career paths and not only make the craft more accessible to them, but also assist the designers in doing actual fur collections. Hereby, in smaller scales of course, we managed to assist the designers in making fur products more accessible and desirable to their customers - the end consumers.
From then on, we have gradually expanded our network within the local and global fashion community, using our unique competences within fur craftmanship to nudge and assist not only design students and designers in their fur projects, but also well established commercial brands.
Commercial brand collaborations remain a great part of our project portfolio of which our collaboration with the Saks Potts fashion brand since 2014 is a great highlight and example of how fur maximizes its potential as a fashionable add on through the creative mindset of the founding young duo, Cathrine Saks and Barbara Potts.
In 2016 we decided to crawl all the way to the top of the brand ladder, as we judged that even for worldly luxury maisons, such as Kering and the LVMH Group, we had something unique to offer. So, we decided to create and produce a bespoke couture technique collection addressed to the high-end segment only. We knew that to gain their interest we needed to provide them with inspiration not meant for everyone. To make the collection even more spectacular we invited external artisans to work alongside our state-of-the-art furriers to create something need based on unexpected fusions of skills. We are for example now working with a hairdresser, a florist, a sustainable metallic coating company and an embroidery studio that all add that little extra amazing detail to the bespoke techniques.
So, I would say we have come full circle. There is not a stakeholder group within the fashion community we haven’t ‘fur touched’ in one way or the other in the time we have had our design studio. Today we are acting as fur design sparring partners for some of the world’s most renowned brands.
Bottom line, the reason why we invest so much effort in, basically, being the fur incubator in terms of fur competence development is to support and strengthen fur as a relevant, sustainable, and trendy material within the global fashion scene.
What is Kopenhagen Fur’s role when collaborating with brands and designers?
Kopenhagen Fur’s greatest contribution lies in the extensive knowledge we have about all things and processes related to fur, including of course how to work with fur from a design perspective. We have a team of highly talented furriers and any type of collaboration always entails 1, 2 or 3 days of creative sparring and technique development with one or more of our furriers. And when we meet with the brand it is not just about how to work with fur – it is also about education and enlightenment. They need to fully understand, how we work as an auction house besides the creative activities. If they do not fully buy into that, it is hard for them to take on the fur ambassadorship afterwards.
Finally, we help to connect especially newly established designers and brands, or brands who never worked with fur before, with specialists and fur manufacturers who can help bring their fur visions to life. Because it is important to say that for all we do, we are NOT the fur manufacturers. We do not have the resources, nor are we the best for actual production. But we know all the manufacturers who are and herein lies an important value add in our all-round offering to our brand collaborators.
Can you describe Kopenhagen Fur Development?
Kopenhagen Fur Development is our yearly attempt to inspire the broader fur and fashion community in new and innovative ways of working with fur. Every one of the 27 techniques have been carefully crafted and developed based on the overall creative concept of Nordic nature and the multiple underlying sub themes to this are made by a Danish external designer. In this way we maintain the close and important partnership between fashion designers and the honorable craft of our furriers. Besides the techniques, our external designer made three individual style designs directly inspired from a small group of the techniques. Our experience is that it helps creativity flow among our stakeholders if they see concrete examples of how to integrate the techniques into actual designs. It helps to visualize how they themselves can apply the techniques to their own collections.
In your opinion, why do brands wish to work with fur? Both now and going back a few years.
Back in the days, which is not that long ago, fur was primarily used for outerwear – before the down jacket, it was warmer than all other coats and it added that something extra – exclusivity – extravaganza that plenty of brands and their customers, the consumers, liked. These days, designers have really adopted the notion of using fur for a whole variety of products not limited to outerwear only. There is a broader perspective on fur as a versatile material, but at the same time of course it has lost some of its core functionality – as keeping you warm and exclusive looking is no longer core features of fur. But longevity is. Fur is an incredibly strong and durable material and entirely natural, which resonates well with the time we live in. Over consumption is no longer desirable – on the contrary and that paves the way for high quality products that will last you longer. Sustainability in other words is a core reason why many designers and brands look to fur these days.
In your opinion, what is it that fur can add to a brand?
Exclusivity. Decadence. In my opinion fur adds an edge to openminded brands. If you think about it, it really is unlike any other material you will encounter. It is vibrant, it is soft, it is shiny in a way that fake fur could never copy, and it is 3-dimensional. I have yet to meet another material that can fully substitute all these parameters in just one material
Then there is the notion of heritage. Quite a few designers are drawn to fur due to nostalgia, memories awoken from distant times closely linked to fur. In my years working with fur, I have always been an interesting dinner company, as most people associate fur with feelings. They may be good, they may be bad – but fur always awakens emotions. And after all, mankind has worn fur since the very beginning – meaning that most of us have family members, who owns fur or who inherited fur from previous generations – leaving you with that certain notion – if fur could speak it would tell a tale of past love, intrigues, revenge…
On top of that, fur is a highly durable material and will last for generations if you take good care of it. And this is also an important quality to many of the brands, we work with. Besides durability, it is warm and yet it allows you to breathe, which gives it a certain functionality that makes it more fit for more seasons than merely the winter season.
And personally, I still like the premium feel that a beautifully made fur coat eludes. This is also something worth embracing for high end brands of course.