Chicago's North Michigan Avenue Magnificent Mile is noticeably light of shoppers this fall as Gucci stock tanks by two-thirds and Coach, Ralph Lauren and Louis Vuitton stock by half.
Seems people are finding they can live without Vuitton's $32,000 Crocodile Neverfull bag with its "even scales and saturated color," and fur coats from Bloomingdale's, Lord & Taylor and Neiman Marcus.
It must be rough selling cruel, unnecessary and expensive products as the economy tanks and people can't even justify their daily $4.95 Grande Chai No-Whip No-Foam Latte anymore.
Even the Fur Information Council of America (FICA) agrees on its website that in these times, "There is simply no room for purchasing frivolous pieces," but then it adds "that will only be worn once."
Non-frivolous fur, it goes on to say, is a versatile investment that can be worn with "jeans on a Saturday afternoon," and as "a warm alternative to carry you to the office" Monday through Friday.
At least in Wasilla, Alaska.
Nor do you "have to feel guilty about buying one, or even two" fur coats says FICA because this season's styles are so "easy and so wearable."
But look at the outerwear fashionistas and recessionistas are wearing this season and it's obvious the Fur Information Council of America is facing a tough Iditarod.
Last year sleek black, powder blue and winter white The North Face-like hooded nylon parkas were practically the law in big cities and on college campuses.
Not only are the zips ups lightweight (cf. fur) and slimming (ibid.) they are warm, waterproof and acceptable at work and at casual venues unlike some coats we know.
Nor are the hoods wasted in Windy cities like President-elect Obama's home town where a fur's matching hat is just high priced litter after its half hour tenure on your head.
This year women are turning up in Urban Outfitter style yoked and swing coats in gold and turquoise--including the Princess style of our grandmothers--double breasted Sergeant Pepper coats in dark gray with gathered front ruffles and Navy duffle and car coats with amber buttons.
They're also wearing animal fakes like Calvin Klein's chocolate brown fitted faux shearling--though animal rights people advise against fake fur because it might be unlabeled real fur from China where mammals including dogs are boiled alive. www.peta.org/feat/chineseFurFarms/index.asp
Trench coats are also big this year including a belted fleece coat that looks as cozy as wearing your brother's sweat shirt--but with a more flattering silhouette and no Ohio State written on the front.
To make fur cool, the FICA website show "Famous Faces in Fur"-- Kate Moss and Kate Bosworth in what looks like one of Salvatore Ferragamo's monkey fur jackets, (yes, monkey) Mary J. Blige and Patti LaBelle looking like Paul Bunyon and the free-space-on-the-fur-bingo-board fur lovers the Oslen twins, Madonna and Naomi Campbell.
Missing is Gwyneth Paltrow who hawks fox fur for Italian luxury goods company Tod's in the New York Times week after week with a wan smirk.
But the photos have the opposite effect.
Not only does the Davy-Crockett's-duller-brother photo of Kid Rock vindicate Pam Anderson decision to lose him, Sharon "the-China-earthquake-was-karma" Stone's contemptuous dragging of her fur on the ground raises both ethical and environmental questions.
To wit: if a fur is falling off the shoulders or being dragged behind you across the floor do you really need the fur?
And speaking of gratuitousness whether animal cruelty or wasted clothing budgets, shouldn't defeated Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sara "You Betcha" Palin be on the FICA website?
She not only wears fur--she'll kill the animal herself.