Upcycled fur reborn on the runways but will it take off?

Upcycled fur in runway

In today’s fashion world where old is the new new, top designers have been putting vintage fur coats back on the runways in the US and Europe. Earlier this year, at New York Fashion Week, Saga Furs worked with Aliette to put upcycled fur pieces into their collection and with Numero Otto in Milano and Paris.

The key word is emotion. This is no longer just about grandmas’ old coats; designers are remodelling furs into completely new silhouettes even combining fur types from older garments to create new textures and looks.

“These are original pieces, each with their own storytelling about their origins and journeys,” explains Saga Furs North American Head and native New Yorker, Charles Ross. “Things like where did the pelt come from, who designed it originally and maybe even who wore it?”

Upcycling or what we used to call remodelling has always been a part of the New York fur retail market,” Ross recalls. “It’s used to be what separated the North American fur retailers from the rest of the world, in that they concentrated a part of their business on repairs and remodels. Now it’s also a growing business in Europe.”

Upcycling makes good business sense

Ross sees the growing number of small enterprises not just in the US but in the UK and other parts of Europe as a positive. “There are multiple designers doing it now and developing viable business models with their pieces appearing to be selling well.” It’s not only fur coats, some upcyclers are repurposing fur for trim to go on clothing or accessories including smart pillows and throws. Some are even reusing fur to make little coats for pets.

It’s also about responsibility

Upcycling is a good fit for the new circular economy, providing the antidote to fast fashion and fake fur by giving consumers a chance to buy legacy fur pieces. Consumers increasingly aware of climate change, plastic pollution and the negative effects of today’s fashion industry are looking for new sustainable ideas for their wardrobes.“Upcycled fur that has been restyled for today’s look seems to check the boxes on affordability as well as responsible fashion. says Ross.  “It might also give young millennials a chance to buy a luxury item that would otherwise have been prohibitive to buy new.”

With proper care, cleaning and storage, a fur coat can last for decades before being reworked or repurposed. And the final product is in line with what environmentally aware shoppers want in a winter coat – natural material with less waste and greater environmental sustainability, while still having the ability to keep you warm in winter.