5 Interesting Facts About the Kopenhagen Furs Auction

It’s FUR WEEK!

Actually, nearly every week is fur week in my world, except maybe the weeks between May and August. But over the summer I took a day trip to Copenhagen and visited the Kopenhagen Furs Auction House, a mink farm, and the KF Studio. You’ll be hearing about each one of these places this week – and hopefully you’ll be getting a bit excited about cold weather fashion and taking the furs out of your closet!

Part two is about the Kopenhagen Fur Auction House, which hosts fur auctions five times a year. Here’s a few interesting facts.

kopenhagen furs, mink, fur is green, ethics of fur, fur auction

The auction room at Kopenhagen Furs. Pelts are sold in Danish Krona but US dollars conversions are displayed. The auctions last about eight or nine days. There are a lot of pelts to sell!

1. It is the biggest fur auction in the world. With 450 employees and a turnover of 21 million pelts in the last year – this is a major player in the fur and fashion world. And business is growing, each auction breaks new records. Anyone who thinks the fur industry is dying out needs to think again – it is better than it has ever been.

kopenhagen furs, mink, fur is green, ethics of fur, fur auction

Mink farmers put bar codes on their mink before they leave the farm, so that they can be identified at auction.

2. Kopenhagen Furs has a very unique sorting system – the only one of its kind. As you know, there are lots of different types of fur bearing animals, and within species, lots of different variations, for example, brown mink, black mink, and sapphire mink are all completely different. When companies buy pelts, they want to buy lots of the same type of animal, matched so that their coats are as close in colour and quality as possible. Even within a particular species, you can get a huge variety in hair length and colour. In most auctions, farmers will sell lots of their own pelts – so one farmer might have 200 sapphire mink that are all similar, and sell them as a lot.


kopenhagen furs, mink, fur is green, ethics of fur, fur auction

You can see the coloured tags representing the different farms – this lot includes mink from several different farms.

But in Kopenhagen, things work differently. All the pelts from all the farmers are grouped together and then the expert sorters (who train for two years to be able to do this) go through them all and divide them into lots. Some of the sorting is done mechanically by machines who analyze the colour of each pelt and sort them according to tone and quality, but most is done by hand (and eye.) The result is larger lots of the same quality pelt, which not many auctions can offer. (To give you an idea of figures, a common mink, like a brown male, might be sold in lots of 1000, whereas as a rare quality might only be sold in lots of 100.)

kopenhagen furs, mink, fur is green, ethics of fur, fur auction

Browns minks as they come off the mechanical sorting machine.

3. The Chinese account for 80% of the auction’s business. In China, Danish fur is very sought after, and the Chinese fur companies flock to Copenhagen five times a year to buy some of the finest mink pelts in the world. Kopenhagen Furs even has a storage facility in Hong Kong (in addition to the huge warehouse in the basement) and they hire a Chinese chef to cook in their staff canteen (see below) during auctions.

kopenhagen furs, mink, fur is green, ethics of fur, fur auction

A show lot of mink. Customers can view show lots of fur a week before the auction, so they know what they are bidding on.

4. Kopenhagen Furs are owned by the farmers. This means the auction house and the design studio are collectively owned by the farmers, and everyone has a collective interest in making sound business decisions that protect the future of the industry in Denmark. I really loved this, and it makes me wonder how different the fashion industry would operate if the people who sourced the raw materials and the manufacturers were part owners of the retailers. Or if dairy farmers owned the massive grocery store chains. I think we would see a much fairer distribution of wealth, a higher standard of ethics, and a more sustainable industry – kind of like the way Kopenhagen Furs and the farmers work together. It is really nice, and everyone wins.

kopenhagen furs, mink, fur is green, ethics of fur, fur auction

Minks boxed up and ready to ship.

5. There’s free beer on tap in the staff canteen. Maybe not so relevant to fur week, but I thought it was worth a mention. It’s not uncommon for Danish companies to provide free lunch for their staff. At Kopenhagen Furs, it means a buffet of hot food and delicious healthy salads with freshly baked bread. But what was most surprising was the Carlsberg on tap, right next to the soft drink dispenser. Another reason why I love the fur industry :-)

kopenhagen furs, mink, fur is green, ethics of fur, fur auction

Free beer on tap in the free staff canteen at Kopenhagen Furs.

P.S. If you’re anti-fur and want to shout about it in the comments, please do it politely – I’ll delete anything rude. And please note that my opinions are based on facts – I’ve done my research, visited fur farms, met with aboriginal trappers, and researched the environmental benefits of a sustainable fur trade in North America and Europe and I am PRO.

My trip was made possible by the awesome people at We Are Fur and their fantastic bursary program.

  • Ralph Rasmussen

    Trees don’t grow into heaven – notice the free beer on tap machine is locked – so much for that trip to Copenhagen :-)

  • alexandrasuhnerisenberg

    Haha – no, that lock is not for blocking access, we could get to the beer, I witnessed it first hand.

  • http://www.furcouncil.com/ Fur Council of Canada

    Great article Alexandra!