Schumpeter: Adventures in the skin trade

THE headquarters of Kopenhagen Fur is an exercise in incongruities. It is a slice of 1960s brutalist architecture dropped into the homely Copenhagen suburb of Glostrup. It is also the nerve centre of a much-hated industry, nestled in the heart of European political correctness: it is the home of the Danish Fur Breeders’ Association, the world’s largest fur-auction house, and the heart of expertise about animal skins. As Hollywood is to films and Silicon Valley is to information technology, Kopenhagen Fur is to peddling the pelts of fluffy creatures.Denmark is home to 1,500 mink farmers who together rear about 17.2m of the mammals a year—about one-fifth of the world’s supply. It also produces much smaller quantities of other furs such as white fox and chinchilla. Danish food companies produce the world’s most nutritious mink food, a mephitic, fishy concoction. Danish design firms drive fur fashions. And the auction house sells fur from all over the world: last year it auctioned 21m pelts and had a turnover of €2.1 billion ($2.8 billion).Kopenhagen Fur has so many Chinese buyers at its auctions—about half of the 600 who typically attend—that it has a Chinese…

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