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Zhang Di, a 27-year-old policewoman based in Heilongjiang, received her first wedding gift last month. Instead of a traditional present such as a piece of gold jewelry, she was given a white, knee-length mink fur coat by her husband.
"Furs are a must-have for girls in Northeast China. It's like Barbie or a luxury handbag in the United States. Wearing fur is a fantastic way to stay active and chic," smiled Zhang.
Zhang and her husband are not wealthy enough to splash out the 20,000 yuan ($3,210) the coat cost on a regular basis but Zhang was very happy about this occasional show of extravagance.
"I need it to fight against the bitter winter here, which can reach minus 30 to minus 40 degrees Celsius," said Zhang. "Also, wearing fur signals wealth so it tells everyone I am having a good life."
"It's not just women. Young men also like fur," said Hu Bin, from Changchun, capital city of Northeast China's Jilin province. "Look at the men wearing fur on the streets. Although most of them look like bears, they still love to show off. "
As a result of the country's rising demand, the level of fur production in Northeast China has been increasing steadily by 10 percent a year since 2004, industry experts said.
According to the International Fur Trade Federation, since 2011, China has become the world's largest fur production and consumption market. Last year, global fur sales reached a record high of $15 billion worldwide, from $14 billion in 2011.
The Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and South Korea are showing particularly significant gains, while in Europe and North America, turnover increased as pelt prices at auction reached record highs. Fur sales in Asia hit $5.3 billion, a year-on-year increase of 10 percent, which reflected a general trend in the luxury goods sector, said the London-based fur trade federation.
"China's swelling fur demand is not only for expensive fur garments but also for trims on wool sweaters or cuffs on leather gloves," said Mike Oaten, chief executive officer of the federation.
"During the week-long Spring Festival shopping spree, which fell on Jan 9, sales of fur coats jumped at least 30 percent," said Zheng Zi, a fur garment seller in Zhejiang province. Her store provided a large discount of 50 percent or even 80 percent off, but Zheng said expensive fur coats, which generally cost more than 20,000 yuan, are still not affordable for most customers.