So I might as well give this one to you straight, no messing about, no circling around the topic – Is fur bad?
Because I just can’t decide.
Whilst I do say this being the owner of a jacket with a fox fur collar around it, I justified that purchase because the fur was second-hand, so the animal was already dead. For some reason, I find that the conversation surrounding fur is often a heated and highly tense debate that people seem relentless to compromise on. Yes, Margot Tenenbaum and her silky coat will forever hold fond sartorial memories in my heart, yet I challenge anyone to watch Shannon Keith’s ‘Skin Trade’ without feeling sick to their stomach.
With the discussion having been brought up at the dinner table over the holidays, I quickly became the family anti-Christ, especially when opposing an indignant and self-righteous younger sister who firmly believed ‘fur was wrong’. Suddenly my semi-endorsement of wearing a feline creature around my neck was also me accepting, and even advocating, the immoral killing and skinning of animals. Now whilst I realise one can not be against the fur industry yet happy to wear a coat, I do believe that there are some strong merits to the second-hand fur industry that often get tarred with the same potent brush.
However the problem for me is that said sister, like many others around her, is more than happy to chomp her way through a hunk of steak whilst owning multiple pairs of leather shoes and maybe even a suede bag, however pre-owned fur seems to ignite a deep-rooted hatred. And this is not uncommon, when donning a jacket with a fur collar or a hat with a rabbit pom-pom society readies itself for a debate in which the furbearer is automatically pro-animal death. So why is it that in an age where healthy vegetarians and even vegans have proved that a life without meat is not only possible but also potentially healthier, and where faux leather is just as common and accessible, that the furry stuff gets such stick? Could it be the luxury quality, and therefore lack of necessity, that fur embodies? For after all, humans survive on a daily basis without the use of animal skin for protection and warmth – therefore classing it as a luxury both economically and intrinsically. Nevertheless, diamonds are frivolous in a similar manner and are still shroud with controversy over ethical sourcing, but when wearing a bedazzled ring you are unlikely to be questioned on your opinion concerning blood diamonds. And whilst humans adorning themselves, in jewellery in particular, is a practise as old as time, might I mention the Neanderthal’s habit of draping animals skins on themselves as winter protection? Therefore, if we recognise fur-donning as a practise that has happened for generations, would it then be possible to apply modern day thinking to an ancient idea? Is this where fur farms come in? In the same way that organic meat and free range eggs have attempted to neutralise the big animal consuming, could ethical furring be the way forward?
Furthermore, in a society increasingly preoccupied with the planet and global warming, could applying the principals of recycling revolutionise the fur industry? After all, as Pamel Erens so eloquently states in her piece for Elle: one fur coat can be worn for generations, while a steak is consumed in half an hour. The handing down of a well-looked after coat formed of animal skin could actually be more ethical, economical and environmental than a synthetic coat purchased at cut price from a shop whose production involves underpaid child labor in a third country. Not only are there the obvious implications that go with that but also think sustainability: one coat lasting forty years, or twenty lasting two years. Then we can look to the environmental impacts of producing, chemically dying and transporting each new coat.
Furthermore the Economist has recently been running adverts that herald the economic benefits of the Fur Industry via We Are Fur, which brings about other important considerations during times of crisis. Mark Oaten, CEO of IFF, commented:
“This study demonstrates the unquestionable value the fur trade brings to the global economy. It’s easy to get caught up in the emotions the business can generate, but the truth is that the fur trade is an economic cornerstone in Europe and beyond. Much of the fashion and increasingly the soft furnishings world relies on fur – and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.”
So with fur re-hitting the news recently as PETA ask Harvey Nichols to renounce it is their shops again, maybe the debate should be opened up into a less black & white domain. What are your thoughts?