Archive for July, 2008

Fashion & Fur in Melbourne

July 29, 2008

I’ve just got back from whirlwind few days in Melboune. The shopping, as expected, was spectacular! We saw some amazing pelts in the Queen Victoria Markets – including the biggest Friesian hide I’ve seen.

One of the absolute highlights of the trip came in Myers Bourke St. They had a collection of extravagant haute couture window displays from Paris and New York. Some of the designers featured were Lagerfeld, Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Viktor and Rolf and Vera Wang. But the most sensational piece was a feathery Thierry Mugler creation worn by Eva Herzigova! It’s in the first 2 photos below. Click any of the images for a closer look.

Thierry Mugler   Eva Herzigova in Thierry Mugler   Karl Lagerfeld Gown   Viktor & Rolf Gown   Christian Dior Gown

Vera Wang Dress   A Yves Saint Laurent jacket   Dolce & Gabbana Purse   Laser Printed Cowskin   A rather large Friesian

Assorted Hides   Kangaroo Hides   The Green Men   Retail Therapy

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Why is Possum Fur so Warm?

July 25, 2008

We often get feedback from our customers that their Possum fur pillows and throws seem to radiate heat after they’ve been lying on them, similar to a wheat bag just out of the microwave.

This is predominantly due to the makeup of the Possum fur fibre itself. The fibre has a variegated texture which causes neighbouring fibres to cling to one and other minimizing the amount of heat loss.

Hollow Possum Fur Fibre

But the Possum fur fibre has another trick up its sleeve in the heat stakes. A hollow core! Warm air is trapped in the shaft of the fibre. This helps to make Possum fur one of the warmest natural fibres (after Polar bear, of course).

This is great for the Brushtail Possum – out in the cold and eating its way through the Kaingaroa Forest.

But it’s even better for you. Not only are you helping the New Zealand eco-system, you’re ensuring that your winters will be warm and cheery!

Custom Designed Possum Fur Decor

July 24, 2008

We’ve just finished a couple of decor commissions for clients who wanted something a little different!

The first one is a white, queen size Possum fur throw. Because of the bleaching process we had to be super-careful during construction and reinforce everything. The result looks fantastic, and we could totally imagine it in an ultra-modern bedroom.

 White Possum Fur Queen Bed Throw

The second design was a little more rustic — a tri-colour Possum fur throw. Our client couldn’t decide which shade of natural she liked best — so chose them all! The finished throw looks amazing. The tones in the natural grey hides makes the reddish parts of the natural brown really pop!

Tri-Colour Possum Fur Throw

If you’d love something special, but can’t find it on our site, get in touch with us and we can discuss your options.

Fur Farming vs. Wild Fur

July 21, 2008

The fur farming industry began in the late nineteenth century in Canada. Since then, demand for fur-farmed pelts has grown and now makes up 85% of the worlds fur supply. The vast majority of farmed animals are mink and fox. The methods for killing the pelts vary from species to species.

While fur farming is banned in many countries, the traditional fur farming regions are North America and Northern Europe. However, in recent years China has become the world’s largest importer and re-exporter of fur.

There was a major decline in demand for fur during the 1990’s, largely due to concerns regarding the inhumane treatment of the animals, and the assertion that animal welfare was being sacrificed for profit. Since the year 2000 there has been a climbing demand for fur, and this resurgence has coincided with a rise in disposable income in lands like China and Russia.

Fur Farm

As with most types of farming, the conditions that animals are kept in are varied. For example, in cages minks (generally solitary animals) display negative behaviour such as endless pacing. Another factor that gives cause for concern is the build-up of fecal matter. This is often cited as a cause for poor animal health.

Fur trappers argue that fur from animals that live their whole lives in the wild is of better quality.

New Zealand’s burgeoning Possum eco-fur industry is strictly ‘free-range’. Because New Zealand has no native land mammals (other than the Pekapeka or Bat) there is no farmed-fur industry. The importation of mink is banned, so the only fur-bearing species is the feral Australian Brushtail Possum.

With over 70 million Possums having a negative impact on the eco-system, trapping plays an integral part in the Possum eradication strategy.

In New Zealand gin traps have been prohibited through by-laws, but there have been concerns regarding how humane the leg-hold traps are. From January 2008, the New Zealand government has introduced strict new laws regarding what traps can be used, in an effort to minimize suffering and distress for the Possums.

New Zealand Native Bush

The wild Possum fur is magnificent, particularly if it comes from the South Island of New Zealand. The verdant native bush provides plenty of food for the Possum to grow large, and the colder climate results in a thicker fur – just perfect for our warm Possum Fur throws!

While humane fur farms will never go away, we believe that New Zealand Possum fur is the best alternative.

By purchasing garments made from feral Possum fur, you’re helping with our eradication plan, and getting a wonderfully warm product. Plus, since the Possum is so abundant, there is no shortage of raw materials. This means that compared to furs like mink and fox, Possum is incredibly economical. Buy a Possum and save a forest!

Ms Possum or: how I learned to stop worrying and love the Marsupial

July 18, 2008

I’m often asked how I ended up working in the fur industry and with Possum fur in particular. I wasn’t always known by the pseudonym ‘Ms Possum’. So, how did it all come about? Well, here’s the Ms Possum story.

Many years ago, in suburban Auckland, my beauty sleep was interrupted, by one of our furry friends, launching itself through an open window. The subsequent hissing and thrashing was matched only by my hysteria – but it was during this pandemonium that an idea was born…

Possum Attack!

In the ensuing years, I happily moved on to other areas of the fashion industry (haute couture, bridal and leatherwear) without giving much thought to the little marsupials or the fur trade in general.

However, that was all about to change.

I had a series of unfortunate roadside incidents with the little marsupial menace. At first I thought I was being targeted. Then I learned that we have over 70 million of the little critters in New Zealand, which reassured me that I wasn’t alone in this interaction. I also realized that a more proactive commercially-driven approach to handling Possums was needed. Thus the metamorphosis to Ms Possum began.

I went back to how the old artisan furriers worked and learned their techniques and skills. Over time it became obvious that the satisfaction derived from stretching and preparing the hides, was incredibly therapeutic. My ‘Possum revenge syndrome’ has begun to abate – although sadly there is no known cure for this psychological condition.

However, on the plus side (and it’s a big one) I’m always creating new and beautiful Possum fur garments, scarves and bed throws for happy customers like you!

So there you go! The Ms Possum story and thus the birth of Possum New Zealand…

Double Double Trouble & a Possum Burger please

July 17, 2008

My husband and I used to have a cleaning contract for one of Auckland’s best known tourist attractions – Kelly Tarlton’s. They’re generally better known for their aquatic residents rather than arboreal ones. We would do our cleaning very early in the mornings when the tourists were tucked safely up in bed.

One morning while I was emptying rubbish bins, I found one with the lid off. Not thinking anything about it, I stuck my hand in to pull out the bag. Only instead of a smooth plastic bag, I grabbed something furry.

Big Mac PossumSomething furry, eating the remnants of a Big Mac.

I’d pulled it out by the tail, and it seemed in shock. It just hung there looking passively at me – swinging a little and blinking in the early morning light.

I screamed, and I think the Possum would have screamed too – if it hadn’t had a mouthful of burger! It swung up my arm and my first thought was ‘not the face.’ But the Possum was intent on escape. Still carrying his breakfast, he leapt over my head and disappeared up a Pohutukawa tree, with the last of the prized Big Mac in one paw.

Now, my husband will attest that I’m not prone to hysterics, but I was a nervous wreck. I had to go and have a strong cup of tea and a lie down. That little encounter has left me decidedly wary of Possums, and I’m pleased to say that I never saw one again, as long as I did the job.

Thanks Shona! Your Possum-pressie’s on the way.

Possums & the Nude Lemons

July 14, 2008

We had a visitor pop into our workroom the other day, and she told us a possum story that we just had to share. Any would-be fruit growers out there will share her frustration I’m sure!

We were living in the Bay of Plenty, and the pride of our backyard was a magnificent Lemon tree. It had at least 100 on it and we were eagerly waiting for them to ripen. I was imagining beautiful desserts and my husband was dreaming of lemon Hot Toddies on cold winter nights.

We would pay regular visits to the tree to check out the ripening process. Finally we decided they were ready to be picked, and we set aside a Saturday morning for our horticultural endeavours.

What a sight greeted us when we got up!

Lemons Peeled by Possums

The lemons were in the same spot they’d been the night before. Except, every (and I mean every) lemon on our tree had been decimated with surgical precision. The Possums had very carefully eaten the skin off each piece of fruit – taking great care to leave it hanging on the tree!

Suffice to say that ‘bother’ and ‘oh dear’ were not the words that came immediately to mind.

I’d seen a few Possums around the back yard, but certainly not enough to wreak this kind of havoc! It was with the quickly-fading memory of a Lemon meringue pie in mind that I dialled the exterminators’ number.

I was shocked to discover that the little group of trees at the bottom of our garden was home to an entire clan of (very full-looking) Possums. In fact, that was to be their undoing. They were so lethargic after their feast that they were easily dispatched – although sadly, not to be made into a beautiful Possum New Zealand scarf.

Thanks Jenny we’ll give you a Possum-pressie. If you’ve got a Possum story let us know. We’ll publish it and give you a little gift as a thank you.

Possums Big Day Out

July 4, 2008

Big Day OutSome of our New Zealand-based readers may remember this story from 2006 in the New Zealand Herald, memorable for one of the worst puns ever printed (‘furred party insurance’).

This intrepid little Possum, made its way into the central city, and wandered up Gore St (with a security guard in tow) blissfully unaware of the fuss he was causing among the latte set!

The full story can be read here, or see the photos of his big adventure here.

AND, just when you thought it couldn’t get any better – we’ve got a follow-up story!

According to our sources, he was last seen disappearing into a paddock in rural Ponsonby!

Eye of the Tiger

July 4, 2008

Following on from what we saw in London a couple of months ago, our friends at ASOS are going ga-ga over animal prints! From Galliano to Kate Moss, animal prints are de rigueur. As you can see below, it’s not just tiger-print, but cowskin, zebra and leopard too.

Animal Prints

With the weather turning cooler, now is the perfect time to consider a Possum New Zealand Cowskin Vest or our leopard Venetia Possum Merino knitwear.

The Birds and the Bees – and the Possum

July 4, 2008

Mt NgauruhoeThis amorous email came into the Possum NZ office last week and had us all in stitches! We especially liked the onomatopoeia (very ’60’s Batman adventure). Thanks Frances your possie pressie’s in the mail.

Hi Possums! I’ve got a small “Possum Tail” to tell, or Possum Tale to be more exact.

I was a young wife, we had been married for about a year, and every weekend we used to think of interesting things to do. When a long weekend loomed, we laid our plans to go hiking in National Park. So on Thursday we packed our gear in the car, and straight after work on Friday we were off like a rocket to Taupo for dinner, then onwards to National Park. We stayed in a Motel on Friday night, then began our long tramp up to the Ketetahi Hut, on the side of Mt Ngauruhoe on the Saturday morning. Ah, bliss!

A lovely fine, sunny day, not a cloud in the sky. Birds calling, the bush was fragrant and lush, and there was hardly another soul on the track. We took our time, paused often, and savoured our climb through the tree-line and on, up to the hut. We arrived in the late afternoon, tired, happy and ready for our evening meal and an early night. As recent newly-weds, this had an extra special meaning for us, as you can imagine. And there were no other hikers staying over − we were alone in the Hut!
Hmmmmm, all good.

Dinner was prepared, eaten by candle-light, we talked together while wrapped in our sleeping bags, and happily finished our mugs of hot chocolate. Meanwhile, the temperature dropped and darkness fell – revealing the splendid, mountain view of the Southern Cross constellation and the starry sky. Very romantic.

Then to bed. We’d put our mattresses side by side on the floor beside the fireplace. Snuggled down together… things were proceeding as they should when SUDDENLY − at a certain critical moment − WHOOSH, WHAM, THUD, and SCREECHES of TERROR from all THREE parties present!

A HORRIBLE experience for us all. The MALE HUMAN who was severely compromised when so rudely interrupted; the FEMALE HUMAN who felt the thud of a heavy, hairy, and smelly live object; and the POSSUM itself.

I dont know if the Possum was a girl or a boy, but it got such a fright at our frightened reactions, it’s claws ripped our sleeping bags as it gathered itself up and ran quickly back up the wooden walls of the hut. Back into the rafters, back into whatever dark and inaccessible corner it lurked in, never to be seen again.

We didn’t look for it. We were too warm in our sleeping bags, and too tired from our hike. But it took awhile to get to sleep !

That’s my Possum story, from 1973. And it’s true. But I never would have thought that a Possum would, or could, fall from the rafters. Perhaps it was distracted?

If you’ve got a Possum story, we’d love to hear it. Email it to us and we’ll pop it on the blog and send you a ‘possie-pressie’ to say thanks.