”When I started working with fur in 1988, the whole Greek fur business had just collapsed. Our main markets had been America and Europe and the consumers in these parts of the world lost interest in fur. This of course meant that the manufacturers in Greece could not sell their products in the same way as before”, says Kostas Tzimas, who has visited Saga’s auctions for 25 years and was here again in December.
Kostas Tzimas is a buyer working in the Greek market and he is buying mostly mink skins for the Greek garment manufacturers. The biggest target group for the mink garments produced in Greece are the Russian consumers. Most products are sold through wholesale and retail in Russia, but Russian tourists visiting the Greek sea resorts are also important shoppers.
“But even though times were really tough when I first came into the industry, the market started to recover again in the beginning of the 1990s. The manufacturers found a new target group in the Russian tourists, who were true fur lovers. For Russians fur has been an integrated part of their wardrobe for a very long time and our manufacturers have been able to offer them interesting garments.”
Russian consumers are changing their shopping habits
For the moment the global fur market is suffering from overcapacity and also the anti-fur movement has its effect on the consumer behaviour. And to make things even worse, the purchasing power of the Russian consumer has declined over the last years as the economic situation has weakened in Russia and the value of the rubble has decreased.
The conflict with Ukraine caused economic problems. The Russian manufacturers increasingly produce fur garments themselves and the consumer can find good garments also in their home market. So, for the moment the Greece manufacturers are facing many challenges.
“Consumers will learn to prefer real fur compared to plastic”
“The end customers will realise that the fur is a natural high-quality product, well worth investing in. Especially compared to the fake-fur products that now are offered to the consumers. Fur must be considered as a luxurious product worth wearing in our everyday lives.”
But for this to happen, the manufacturers need to make sure that the fur garments follow fashion trends, like for instance consumers’ interest in athletic clothing. And the well-being of the animals must be taken even more seriously than before. A good example is the WelFur certification, that from the beginning of December 2019 is required of all the producers.
“The industry is fighting strongly to stay alive and when we come out of this crisis, there will be fewer of us. But I am sure we will get through this as we did come through the previous crises”, Tzimas explains his views of the future.