Fur process and trade are the two keystones of Kastorian tradition, counting 500 years of life. Being a craftsmanship practiced since the Byzantine Empire, fur industry has always been a major motive force for economic-growth and attributed to the community’s global reputation. This of course was made possible by the cut of the production cost, the division of labor and the local specialism (sewing strips and shaping fur clothing, cutting leather skins into slim layers, milling, stretching/ transforming leather-drying the skins with colors, cleaning, arranging, lining, final finishing, examination and vapor ironing).
The Kastorian fur crafters are considered to be timeless for their workmanship up to this day, since they persevere a rather unique and complicated technique of processing leather skins, cutting them into slim layers, and finally impeccably stitch them together - for the best possible color performance.
These exact stripes, considered to be useless material, were coming wrapped in burlap from the USA (and also elsewhere) to be used in the city's fur workshops.
The artistry of fur was most likely arrived in Kastoria during the 15th century (1492-1498) by the Sephardic Jews traversing from the Iberian Peninsula – who were forced to leave from Spain and Portugal after refusing to be baptized Christians, who spread their fur knowledge and expertise. Throughout the 16th century the ever-increasing demand of fur, led to the very first raw material imports. During the 17th century the Kastorian fur craftsmen migrated to Istanbul, Central Europe, as well as the Danubian regions and as a result the earliest fur trade communities were born. Then, in the 18th century, fur has established its name as the dress of the world’s elite, a signature dress of social affluence and economic wealth. Before fur mechanization - set back in 1894, fur clothing was handcrafted and from the 1950s onwards, right after the World Wars and the Greek Civil War, Kastoria has gained its reputation as one of the most important production, processing and fur trade centers all over the globe. In the 1970s, Kastorians touched the very top places on the lists of the top GDP-per-capita countries. By that time, more than 5,000 small and large fur businesses were operating in the city, occupying about 15,000 workers. Futhermore, the huge event of the International fur Fair, taking place in Kastoria since 1976 on an annual basis, is another one hard evidence of Kastoria’s fur supremacy.
Last but not least, the universal economic crisis and the rise of various eco-movements, as well as the competitive Chinese market, brought a decline to fur trade during the 1980’s – that consequently led to a great migration crisis, and thus Kastoria is still is counting its wounds, except the fact that the city continues to be the only fur processing center in Europe until this day.
Finally, the fur farms operate nowadays around and beyond Kastoria, are fully respecting any international guidelines on farming of fur-bearing animal farms.