The newly-launched Saga Furs Creative Hub is the company’s new high-end platform for engaging suppliers, buyers, brand customers, and designers from around the world on every aspect of fur fashion design, artisanship and sustainable material use.
The new Hub has its beginnings in the Saga Design Centre, founded in 1988 in Denmark. At that time, the company decided to put fur back into the spotlight of fashion through innovation in fur design. During its more than 30 years in operation, the Design Centre hosted an estimated 30,000 visitors, from design students to established names in fashion.
From now on the Creative Hub is located in the capital area of Finland, in the same building as Saga Furs’ headquarters and the auction room, which brings together Saga Furs’ experts in fur craftsmanship, grading, sustainability and a lot more. “Bringing the Centre to our Head Office in Finland closer to our suppliers and our core business operations was a natural next step for us,” explains Saga Furs CEO Magnus Ljung.
The company still retains a small unit in Denmark of two furriers and one designer. But, legacy furniture and a wall of fur fashion retro photo frames have been brought from the Design Centre and installed in the new space at the Saga Head Office. The combined effect is a distinctly Scandinavian feel, characterised by clean lines, clear surfaces, natural wood tones and a lot of natural light.
Inside, you’ll find mini parlours with antique furniture and objects d’art alongside large open table spaces, which function as work stations for furriers to hone and demonstrate their skills. There is also ample display area for the nearly 2 500 natural fur samples and garments that make up the legacy collection.
Previously, the Design Centre had been creating 150 design samples per year but in the interests of dematerialisation, the plan is to reduce this number to around 80 pieces per year. We are also considering donating pieces to design schools and brand customers. “This makes sense especially where we have a big overlap”, says Leena Harkimo, Chief Officer, Saga Furs Creative Hub.
“What’s really amazing about this space,” Harkimo enthuses, “is that the techniques developed at these tables by our skilled furriers in Denmark and Finland do actually end up on the runways in fashion capitals around the world as part of high-end collections.”
Sustainable production practices
Air gallon is one of the techniques that has revolutionised fur fashion over the years. By punching small air holes in the fur, the garment expands to triple the size, making it lighter, less dense and easier to wear, while at the same time using much less material.
Another highly skilled approach developed is called Intarsia, which involves laying out pieces of fur and piecing them together into garments. The results can be stunning in their originality and the technique promotes zero waste.
Harkimo also presents an entirely new approach that promotes sustainable material use as well as warmth and wearability. “This is a technique using fox tail fur and other fox pieces, which would otherwise have gone to waste,” Harkimo explains. “We pipe it into ribs inside the jacket linings in place of down.”
Using this technique any colour, shape or size fur piece can principally be put into the same garment. However, given that working with fur is still highly specialised and time consuming, the technique will still need further development before it can become truly cost effective.
Sustainability a licence to operate
The Hub is also a place for educating stakeholders on broader sustainability issues. “Sustainability and transparency are becoming increasingly important to fur fashion consumers,” says Marja Tiura, Executive Director of the Finnish Fur Breeders Association. “They want to know where their products came from and how they were produced.”
Saga Furs leads the industry with its strict farm certification program that holds its farmer suppliers accountable to the highest standards of animal welfare and environmental farm management.
Saga is also investing heavily in transparency and traceability with its new RFID solution that will allow consumers to place their device on a Saga Furs hang tag and trace a garment or fur trim back to the country and farm of origin. And this will eventually be available for customers to test out at the Hub.
“Our fur farmers understand that sustainability has become their licence to operate in today’s fashion market,” says Tiura. “They also understand that good environmental practices such as zero farm waste, closed loop energy, and developing a growers market for nutrient-rich manure all make good business sense too.”
All three agree that relocating the Saga Furs Creative Hub to Finland is an investment into company’s resilient future. “Our common target is to educate, inspire and promote confidence in certified fur as an exciting material to work with and a sustainable choice to add to any collection”, adds Ljung.