RUSSIAN fun-seekers are trading their furs for fancy dress, sold and dispatched from Essex.

All Fancy Dress has seen business grown by 20 per cent over the previous year, partly thanks to a growing wave of orders from Russia.

Matt Foden, marketing director of the Wickford company, said Russians particularly appreciate the company’s website.

He said: “If you’re living somewhere like Siberia, you won’t have access to a local fancy dress hire shop, but they go to our website and find they have instant access to 7,000 different costumes online.”

So do the Russians favour any particular style of fancy dress – polar bear costumes, maybe?

“Not really,” said Matt. “People everywhere tend to be pretty much the same these days in their taste for fancy dress.

“Zombies are particularly popular right now, all over the world. And we’re shortly going to be getting an Avatar range, which we anticipate will be a real hit.”

Across the country, the fancy dress business has bucked the economic recession, growing an average 10 per cent year on year.

Abbey Tasnaby, manager of Main Station fancy dress hire in Colchester, said the business had benefited from the “staycation” trend, whereby people enjoy themselves at home rather than travel abroad.

“Customers are spending their money on having a good time locally,” she said. “Their attitude is, ‘we’re not having a foreign holiday this year, so let’s splash out on some great parties at home’.”

Main Station is experiencing large demand for Seventies-style costumes. “These days, fancy dress is about far more than just dressing up as a funny pirate for a party,” said Abbey. “Wearing our clothes is fun, but it can also be a sort of retro fashion statement.”

Matt Foden at All Fancy Dress has identified another trend. Customers now frequently order fancy dress on a whim, much as they would order a takeaway meal.

“People lead busy lives, and they often order fancy dress at the very last moment. “By staying open late, we’re able to satisfy that instant demand – even if they’re in Russia.”