Designers like Fendi, Michael Kors, and Jeremy Scott of Moschino have turned fur into a runway star over the course of recent seasons re-branding this holdover from the country club 1950s as young, hip, fashion-forward and even environmentally sustainable.
“Fur has always been a hot-button issue in fashion, and now more than ever because the consumer has the ability to research and decide for themselves where they want to stand,” said Robert Burke, founder of the luxury consultancy in New York bearing his name. “It is really the one area where money and ethics converge in fashion.”
Who better to talk about what’s happening in the industry of fashion and fur than a stalwart fur advocate and luxury design maker. I sat down with designer Ita Kli to talk about the fur trade, going faux and the fur demands by the famous, new generation.
Penned by: Nichelle Cole
Hello, and thank you for sitting down with me. Let’s do a background check. I read that before becoming a fur designer you worked in many different areas in the fashion industry including photography, styling and as a stylist consultant. What was it like working in these different positions and how long before you realized that fur design was the right fit?
During my career I’ve always been curious and willing to learn different roles in fashion, taking the best from each position; since the beginning I had a desire to know the different roles within the fashion system, it helped keep my passion and my interests in fashion alive.
Tell me a little more about your time in Paris with Valentino and Ungaro Haute Couture. What was your role, what exactly did it entail and how did your work contribute to the Valentino and Ungaro Haute Couture brands.
My job was that of a print designer; this consisted of interpreting designer input, mediating their creativity and telling their history while at the same time offering them the possibility to distinguish themselves from others, guiding them according to the trends of the moment and paying attention to not let them fall into repetition.
I heard that Ita Kli was born from an experience you had in Marrakesh. What happened there that made you want to create a luxury line of all occasion furs?
My journey in Marrakesh gave me the chance to network. It was in Marrakesh that I met people who offered me a collaboration, a chance to start a line as a creative director focused on my own ideas and on my own vision of the world.
The Ita Kli line of furs are super light-weight and the shape and style are very modern. What is the philosophy behind your fur designs?
The brand’s philosophy is one of comfort and of a metropolitan fit, suitable for a range of clients from mother to daughter. To achieve this goal I try to maintain a versatile cut that suits everyone, as well as a good price/quality ratio.
Fur is in demand by the new generation, such as the Hip-hop and Generation Z age groups. On Instagram we see fur accents on purses, key chains, sweatshirts, scarves and high heels. There is a desire for a ‘touch of luxury’ that only comes from fur. Does the Ita Kli brand offer accessories that a younger generation can afford?
My collections are all affordable, our policy is to create a product that is accessible to both adults and to younger clients. It is for this reason that I create accessories like the Mongolia bag and even fur slippers.
How do you see the Ita Kli brand engaging with the Millennials who are now growing into adulthood and want to develop a more sophisticated style while maintaining their youthful edge? Does Ita Kli have any new styles or experimental styles that would appeal to the young generation?
The main difference between youth and adulthood is the choice in clothing which becomes more balanced with age. For this reason the products that are better suited to Millennials are the timeless pieces revisited in a glamorous way, like parkas with fur lining or classic wool coats with colorful fur applications.
Faux fur options are now under scrutiny. As you know faux fur is often made of non-biodegradable, chemical-based synthetics like nylon and polyester. Do you have a policy regarding where your fur pelts are collected, or how the animals are treated and how the production of fur impacts the environment? If not, do you have an opinion on how the fur trade and the production of fur for luxury goods should make changes?
My personal commitment is to use exclusively leathers from controlled farms; we never use fur skins from producers that are not audited or that do not guarantee the quality of the animal skin. In order to reduce the ecological impact, I use recycled skins wherever I can, in fact, the “sports style” pieces are made from recycled leather. However I think it is unthinkable and impossible to stop the production of fur coats, which represents a microscopic part of the fashion market, to stop it would wipe out an entire world market, including the leather market.
Many girls are willing to invest in chic faux-fur versions. Does Ita Kli have faux options? And if so, how long have you offered faux fur as part of your collection? And if not, do you intend to introduce faux fur into the line?
I love faux fur coats because the tissue actually allows you to more easily create combinations of colors and materials, and to make various cuts and patterns at very low costs. It is true that we create ecological damage with real fur but also with fake ones. Faux fur takes about 6 liters of petrol; it is 100% plastic, and consequently pollutant. However, for the moment, I have no plans to introduce a faux-fur line, but I am developing a parallel one: it is a collection of cashmere and merino wool born from a fixation to always be “in order” at home. The idea is a collection of comfortable cashmere knits, reinterpreted from classic models but with stretch. Pants and dressing gowns, nightgowns and skirts that can be worn both at home and away. It’s a way to entice the famous new generations to not only attempt to maintain their public appearance but to be consistent at home, have a respectful look for themselves and for the people they live with.