Fur coat
Rising demand in the far East has caused an increase in fur sales. Reuters

Rising demand amongst the growing middle class in the Far East is causing global fur sales to soar, according to the International Fur Trade Federation.

Demand for fur in Asian markets is up 5% on last year, an increase of $5.6 billion (£3.6m). Sales have more than tripled in the region in the last ten years, and now outstrip those in Europe.

Mark Oaten, International Fur Trade Federation CEO said: "Traditional markets are showing a renewed interest in fur as designers and consumers alike continue to reignite their love affair with this commodity. Coupled with this we are seeing continued strong growth in newer markets in Asia where increasing numbers of affluent consumers are flexing their spending power."

Globally, sales now total $15.6 billion (£10bn), a half a billion dollar increase on last year and a 44% increase on sales figures a decade ago.

International fur auction houses have also reported record sales and prices over the last year.

Once a reviled material, fur is now making a comeback on the catwalk, in collections by a number of high profile designers keen to tap into the lucrative Chinese market.

Animal rights campaigners have long campaigned against the use of fur, and have gained a number of celebrity backers.

A spokesman for animal rights charity PETA said: "Fur used to be seen as a luxury item, and now it's so cheap that prostitutes on the street wear it in some parts of the world and workers in China can have fur slippers where once had nothing on their feet at all.

"The cruel killing of animals is just as repulsive now as it was 20 years ago. The suffering of minks who go mad from confinement in tiny boxes and foxes who chew off their own feet to escape painful steel-jaw traps will never be 'in fashion.'"

Designer Vivienne Westwood told the Telegraph that she considered it acceptable to use the fur of common animals but not rare species.

"I think it's okay to use sheepskins because we eat sheep," Westwood said. "But rhinos killed for their horns, tigers killed for their penises, that sort of thing is horrific."