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Hedvig Palm (Next) backstage at Fendi AW14
Hedvig Palm (Next) backstage at Fendi AW14Lea Colombo

Fur is big, big business

According to a new report, the fur trade is worth as much as wi-fi – all $40 billion of it

TextZing TsjengPhotographyLea Colombo

You might think of fur as a niche luxury product favoured by rich Russians and Joan Collins, but it turns out that the fur trade is worth more than $40 billion (£24 billion) – roughly the same amount as the global Wi-Fi market.

Figures released today by the International Fur Federation show that sales of fur products are estimated at $35.8 billion, while farming is valued at $7.8 billion. All in all, the industry employs more than one million people.

"It's easy to get caught up in the emotions that the business can generate, but the truth is that the fur trade is an economic cornerstone in Europe and beyond," CEO Mark Oaten told the Telegraph. "Much of the fashion and increasingly the soft furnishings world relies on fur - and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future."

Fur has been consistently popular with Italian fashion houses such as Prada and Fendi, but some designers have refused to use it. In 2009, Stella McCartney told Suzi Menkes, "Well I don't do leather and I don't do fur and it's not just because I don't eat animals. I don't think that half a billion animals a year shouldn't be killed for the sake of fashion."

In the 1990s, supermodels Claudia Schiffer, Christy Turlington, Cindy Crawford and Naomi Campbell posed nude for Peta under the slogan: "I'd Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur."

What do you think about fur for fashion?