Guess what the bold sartorial choice is among the Chinese middle class right now? Good, old-fashioned fur coats made from the hides of recently deceased, fuzzy mammals like the shifty-eyed mink and vigilant ermine.
The rising demand for fur coats in China has fueled an export boom among U.S. mink farmers. According to Reuters, U.S. exports of mink pelts to China spiked to a record $215.5 million last year, a reversal of fortune from just a few years ago when the fur industry stagnated thanks to pesky animal rights activism in the U.S. and Europe. However, no such bestial tenderness exists in the colder BRIC nations — the desire for high quality pelts in countries like Russia and China has led to an overall surge in worldwide fur shipments from the U.S. A little over 11.8 million pelts worth more than $479 million spread out across the world last year from American farmers, trappers, and auction houses, nearly triple the amount of fur exports in 2009.
Rising demand for furs in Russia and China coupled with an unseasonably cold winter has led to the fur boom, because the bottom line is that once people start accumulating lots of wealth, the first thing they want to do is demonstrate their utter lack of respect for the natural world by flaunting a gorgeous fur coat. Nothing says, “Fuck you, Mother Nature — I’m rich!” like a head-to-tail mink scarf to go with your alligator-skin bike shorts and an elephant seal skin wallet to hold all of your cash-money.