I have never been a big fan of fur. Not for any ethical reason, but simply because I have rarely found pieces that are subtle enough to appeal to me. The lambskin coat above, before you raise a quizzical eyebrow, does not count as subtle either. But it is made by a lovely, large Icelandic man named Eggert Jóhannsson, who I was fortunate enough to meet a few weeks back.
Eggert is a craftsman. They’re easy to spot, because they always seem relieved when someone asks them a question that is technical, rather than aesthetic. Eggert smiled broadly when I began asking about the fur trade, about where his fur is sourced and how it is stitched. And he had some interesting points.
The coat above is from a collection called Born Again. Every year in Iceland, around 2% of new lambs die during their first few days and their bodies are thrown away. Eggert hates waste, so he tried to find a way to rescue the skins. After several months of experiments with shepherds and the local tannery, he found a method to save them – and they are used to make the Born Again coat.
Fur is wasted in a similar way in many countries. They include red fox in Germany, muskrat in Holland and brushtail possum in New Zealand. In some countries, culled animals are thrown away in their thousands rather than give them to furriers and risk controversy.
Eggert uses many other sources, including farmed animals and local hunters. “Whether indigenous people or not, they all have an equal knowledge of and respect for the local ecosystems and the animals that live within them,” he says.
I don’t claim to be an expert on fur, or to have a position. But these debates are rarely black and white, and Eggert’s enthusiasm is infective. In fact his passion reminds me of that of Sergio Loro Piana, who sadly passed away last month. Men with such zeal for raw materials are increasingly rare these days.
A range of Eggert’s coats are available to try on and order bespoke from the Anderson & Sheppard haberdashery on Clifford Street. As mentioned last week, I am a particular fan of his hats.