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A furrier is someone who designs, creates, maintains, and repairs fur garments. The term “furrier” is closely related to “clothier,” a term used to describe people who work with textiles to create garments. Furriers can be found in many major cities, especially in northern regions, where the business of buying and selling furs tends to be brisk. People can enter this profession through apprenticeship with an experienced furrier, or by receiving training in trade school.
Garments made from fur have been utilized for much of human history. Furs are ideally suited for clothing in cold climates because they have excellent insulating properties, and they continue to be prized for this reason. Fur is also regarded as a luxury material in many areas, especially in the case of certain types of fur such as ermine. Handling fur requires special care, as it can be very fragile when it is not handled properly, and much of a furrier's work revolves around taking care of furs so that they can be enjoyed.
Furriers may work in the design aspect of the industry, creating garments made from fur, exploring new construction techniques for fur garments, and working with individual customers to create custom commissions. Furriers can also be involved in the trade and processing of raw furs, as well as the management of garment collections, ranging from furs kept in museums to personal fur collections. Some work with other garment designers to provide high-quality furs used in garment design when garments are not made exclusively from fur, as when a designer wants to make a wool jacket with a fur collar.
A furrier's job also includes tasks like altering fur garments to fit new owners, as well as cleaning and repairing existing garments. Furriers also act as consultants for customers who want information about proper fur storage and handling, or who want assistance with picking out furs of a specific style or quality. Because furs are so variable in quality, it can be helpful for inexperienced customers to work with a furrier to avoid making unwise purchases.
Increasing concerns about the ethics of the fur trade have placed new demands on furriers. Some furriers have responded by altering the way in which they do business, priding themselves on ethically and humanely acquired furs, or putting energy into finding sources of fur which do not involve the trade of banned furs such as the fur of cats and dogs or fur from endangered species. Some furriers have even helped with government investigations designed to identify parts of endangered animals which are being illegally traded and sold, using their experience in the fur industry to help protect endangered species.
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