Fur necklet and bags displayed in the 35th China Fur & Leather Products Fair on Jan 13, 2009 in Beijing.[Asianewsphoto]
The 2009 China (Yuyao) Fur Garment Festival will kick off in Yuyao, Zhejiang province on Oct 27, wrapping up on Jan 3, 2010.
The festival features a trade forum, fur garment show and shopping carnivals, marking the third time Yuyao has hosted such an event.
Yuyao is one of the first regions to produce fur clothing in China. The city currently has more than 200 fur garment enterprises and more than 5,000 practitioners, making it the largest fur garment market in China.
The China Fur and Leather Garments City (Fur City) was opened in Yuyao on Oct 27 last year with an investment of over 30 million yuan ($4.39 million). It covers 3.5 hectares of Yuyao Industrial Park, with an extensive scale of 100,000 sq m housing 200 businesses and more than 280 consumer goods shops.
Feng Chunhai, general manager of Fur City, told chinadaily.com.cn that the fur clothing industry in Yuyao is developing into a diversified market. "The traditional distribution channel still dominates the domestic market in this industry. We are breaking the ice by developing into a new dynamic market," he said.
"We are aiming to become the professional fur trading market and a fashion shopping center in order to develop Yuyao into a fur garment trading center in China and the world," Feng added.
Fur garment industry sales in Yuyao during October 2007 and March 2008 reached 550 million yuan, according to Fur City chairman Hong Boan. When The China Fur Garment Festival opened last year in November, the trading volume hit 300 million yuan in the first three days.
Hit by the financial crisis in 2008, sales of most luxury and high-end products were seriously affected. However, the fur market in Yuyao maintained a strong performance -- the trading volume even experienced a 30 percent growth year-on-year. "To some extent, the crisis brought the fur garment business in Yuyao a huge opportunity," Hong said. "The raw materials of the fur clothing are mostly imported from the foreign market. As the price of fur in the foreign market declined, the domestic manufacturers and sellers made quite a fortune from it. The impact is minor since the fur business in Yuyao targets mainly the domestic market," he explained.
In the sales center of Fur City, a shop keeper said 98 percent of 1,600 pieces of fur clothing were sold before the end of last year in his shop.
According to Hong, more than 90 percent of fur clothing was sold in Fur City last year. He predicts Fur City sales volume will hit 1 billion yuan in 2009.
The strong momentum of Yuyao's fur market benefits from its unique sales strategy, according to an industry insider. While the international fur market declined by 40 percent last year, sales of China's fur have only declined by 10 percent, mainly because the domestic fur market targeting low to high end consumers and garments with all materials and prices can be found here.
The clothing design of fur garments covers styles from classic to casual in order to meet the different needs of various consumers. However, the European concept in fur clothing design is high fashion, classic and expensive, so most products are beyond common people's price range. "When there's a financial crisis, luxury gets cut first from people's buying list. That's why the foreign fur business was hit so hard," said one industry insider.
In Yuyao's fur market, accessories costing a few yuan and expensive fur coats can be found in the same shop. Clothing, bags, and bedding products are all hot sellers in Fur City.
Started in 1979, the fur business has been developing in Yuyao for 30 years, becoming one of the city's pillar industries. In 2006, about 3 million mink skins were processed, which accounted for more than a quarter of the national total volume. Since then, the city has become the largest distribution center of mink skin garments in China, which attracts more than 50 thousand customers from home and abroad each year.
Encouraged by upbeat sales in 2008, fur manufacturers and sellers in Yuyao are optimistic about the future. "The potential of Fur City's development is huge. In three to five years, 6 million pieces of mink skin can be traded annually, the trading volume of fur garments will reach 500,000 pieces and accessories 2 million pieces annually, and the sales scale will hit 6 billion yuan annually," Feng said.