The Brand History of BLACKGLAMA Mink
I have a question to you. Please think about it before you reply. What is common to Bette Davis, Barbra Streisand, Janet Jackson and Gisele Bündchen? Or let’s make it even more interesting and add to the list also names like Luciano Pavarotti and Ray Charles.
Yes, they are all celebrities, but that’s not all. The answer is that they all are part of the history of the legendary BLACKGLAMA mink, which since 2020 is sold exclusively through Saga Furs auctions.
Maybe the best place to start is still with the question: “what is BLACKGLAMA?” Although the brand and what it represents – unsurpassed quality – are extremely well-known worldwide, there are some consumers who don’t realize that BLACKGLAMA refers to the mink, not the designer or manufacturer.
The production of the world’s finest dark mink is an art, and it is always coming from North America. BLACKGLAMA mink is naturally dark in color, not dyed black, and it is of such high quality, that less than 2% of the world’s mink may earn the BLACKGLAMA label. What is good to highlight as well is that animals rearing conditions show first on animals’ fur, which means that you cannot get such quality without sustainable and certified practices on the farm.
Once it is understood what BLACKGLAMA mink is, we can then ask how did this iconic label come into existence?
Few words about the history of BLACKGLAMA
The year 1968 represented a turning point in world events and a shift in American culture. To the members of the Great Lakes Mink Association (GLMA), these turbulent times seemed a world away. Working long hours on farms throughout the upper Midwestern United States, they were busy improving and producing the world’s finest dark mink. Little did they know that their work would form the basis of a revolutionary new marketing campaign.
Through genetic management, their friendly competitors at the Mutation Mink Breeders Association, known as EMBA, had developed colored minks – violet, sapphire, pastel – and each time they came out with a new color, they announced it with a splashy ad. GLMA members wanted to make sure the public knew about dark mink too and some thought changing their advertising could accomplish this goal.
GLMA hired a small New York agency headed by the respected copywriter Jane Trahey, who suggested giving it the brand name BLACKGLAMA. One of the first missions was to really make the product jump off the page at the consumer. To do this, the campaign needed something special that would be memorable in the mind of the consumer. Because the luster of the fur doesn’t show up in a photograph, Jane Trahey thought up another trick. To make BLACKGLAMA synonymous with the glamour of universally recognized and admired people.
The means was brilliantly simple, and the world took notice for a variety of reasons. A black-and-white photograph of a well-known woman wearing a BLACKGLAMA coat shot against a seamless gray backdrop. Reputable names such as Judy Garland, Bette Davis, Barbra Streisand and Lauren Bacall were featured in the first year alone. The photographer was the renowned Richard Avedon. And a straightforward tagline tied it all together: “What Becomes a Legend Most?”
Within two years, BLACKGLAMA was considered the most prestigious black ranch mink in the world. Soon after the series began, stores like Bergdorf Goodman were selling garments that carried the BLACKGLAMA tag, and customers were asking for it by name.
From 1968 to 1994, when the campaign went on hiatus, the “Legends” included stars from the Hollywood, Broadway, Motown, Las Vegas, La Scala, the Met and beyond. Legends had won Oscars, Emmys, Grammys and Tonys. As Peter Rogers, account manager of the agency put it, it was “the most illustrious list of names ever brought together for commercial purposes.”
The millennium bringing a new twist
By the millennium everyone agreed the campaign needed to change, people were looking for something new already. The ad agency of that time Laspato DeCaro was known for its work in fashion and they were asked to reinvent the BLACKGLAMA campaign.
The idea was still to show high-profile names, but to show fur “as it is today”, as a very viable part of fashion. The goal was also to show the versatility of BLACKGLAMA – how it can be designed and styled in different ways.
Since 2001 the campaign has featured a who’s who of the international fashion world. These names include superstars Linda Evangelista, Gisele Bündchen, Cindy Crawford, Elle Macpherson, Naomi Campbell and Elizabeth Hurley. These Legends have helped to maintain the same style and elegance as the original campaign, while giving it a contemporary twist.
Like the rest of the world over the past 50 years, the fur business has changed. New techniques, new designs, new merchandising, new customers… However, throughout all these changes one thing has remained the same: the unsurpassed quality of BLACKGLAMA mink.
What is “Quality” when we talk about BLACKGLAMA?
Without question, quality is the characteristic most often attributed to BLACKGLAMA. But who determines if a mink is worthy of the BLACKGLAMA label and what are the criteria?
Each and every pelt that arrives at Saga Furs is hand inspected by one of our quality graders. In order to qualify as BLACKGLAMA, the pelt must be free of any imperfections on both the fur and leather side. Two types of fur are then examined; the base underfur must be deep in length, dark in color, and dense in flow. It supports the slightly longer and finer guard hair, which gives the pelt its soft, silky look and feel. It is this short nap characteristic that most defines the BLACKGLAMA mink in the garment form. With such tough criteria to pass, it is no wonder that less than 2% of the world’s ranch-raised mink production qualifies as BLACKGLAMA mink and is awarded the coveted serialized labels for garment placement.
Slowfashion movement – Invest in something timeless
Over the past fifty years the BLACKGLAMA name has been synonymous with the beauty and unsurpassed quality that each piece embodies. BLACKGLAMA and “What Becomes a Legend Most” are registered trademarks. Each BLACKGLAMA mink coat includes a label displaying a unique serial number providing permanent identification. The number also ensures that the label is genuine, not an imitation.
Since 2020 BLACKGLAMA mink is sold exclusively through Saga Furs auctions in Finland, to the most demanding and selective manufacturers and design houses in the world, and their customers.
It is safe to say that BLACKGLAMA has become truly iconic name, a symbol of class and style. If you want to invest in one fur garment, the choice is simple. Black is always in style and a quick look at the Vestiaire Collective, a globally known online secondhand shop, shows you quickly that the price for a secondhand garment has still four numbers.
If you are looking for the most elegant and renowned natural dark mink, you need to look no further than BLACKGLAMA.
Read more on BLACKGLAMA site here.
Images: Saga Furs, BLACKGLAMA, Artsy.net