Un-fur-lievable

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.

Margot-Tenenbaum

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? naked_for_peta_03 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? 121113window2697BWweb-1 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.”

IFF Economist Ad amended-1 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?

(Fashion Images courtesy of The Sartorialist) For further writing on the topic why not check out: Man Repeller – Conversations on Fur ELLE – Leave it to Beaver

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6 comments

  1. Great post. The hatred of fur for fashion is an easy bandwagon to jump on without any deeper thought because it’s so visible. I bet hardly anyone questions whether the eggs, beaten and baked in a cake are from chickens which have been treated well.

    And of course, the leather/fur debate. Is leather more acceptable because the animal it comes from doesn’t have fur and is therefore less cute? On the same line-of-thought: If someone had wild rats in their house, I doubt many would think twice about killing them.

    I’m pro buying second-hand fur. It would be a terrible waste to get rid of it. New fur? I wouldn’t buy it. But I do buy new leather because it lasts longer than faux-leather. I’ve never applied that logic to fur before, like Pamel Erens does. She is right… But I probably still wouldn’t buy it. Does that make me a hypocrite?

    I’ve had a similar argument with an ex-friend of mine who visited India: She was complaining that India was a horrible country because there was a child working in one of the bathrooms, handing toilet paper to tourists (in exchange for money) while they were using the toilets. “What an awful thing to make a child do, it was so awkward for me, I shouted at her and left”. Aside from that being a horrible way to treat a child, I pointed out she’s happy to buy clothes produced in sweatshops by children. She doesn’t go into unethical clothing stores, shouts and leaves: She’ll fill a basket full happily. “That’s different”, was her argument. The other girl in the room agreed with her. But how is it different (in any way more than just superficially)? I think some people just can’t think beyond what is immediately visible to them.

    1. I am so glad you brought up the point of unethical clothing due to child labour, that is a post I have wanted to write for a while now but am waiting until I have the time to do it justice!

      Also really like your points above, it such a grey area and for me there is no black or white answer. If you are interested I would highly recommend the other articles mentioned at the bottom of the post as they also explore this issue with other ideas and examples.

      Thanks for the passionate response!

  2. Thank you for your intelligent, honest and well-balanced post. Part of the problem is that animal-rights groups have circulated a lot of misinformation (claiming all sorts of abuse and unethical practices) to justify their anti-fur campaigns. For another side of the story — including some of the environmental ethics you mention — you may be interested in the new website http://www.TruthAboutFur.com.

    1. The website looks fantastic, thank you so much for sharing it!

    2. Thank you for your comment Alan. So according to you, we should only trust the informations coming from the people who actually benefit from fur farming ? The link you provided us with is a professional link.
      The fur industry generated around 20 billions $ benefit last year so I think we can consider your information being as biased and misleading as the ones provided by the ara.
      One thing is sure : animals are caged they entire lives for a frivolous thing. Why not develop faux fur or other great alternatives and spare animals when it is so easily achievable ? Regarding this article I do understand that people who eat meat and wear leather can be anti fur because for many people to stop eating meat is not an option when not wearing fur is a very easy step to help millions of animals. I’m actually glad that people are able to make the difference (Even though I personally don’t eat meat)
      In other words killing for the food is a thing, killing for fashion sake is something else…I do not see anything hypocrite here. What really is hypocrite to my opinion is people vilifying faux fur because it is made from petrol when they actually use car, plastic bags, makeup, computers and hundreds of petrol-based products in their daily life.
      @Shelly : fur is not sustainable : all farming operations have an impact on the planet and waste natural resources. Fur do not come from invasive species : 85% of the production comes from fur factories : places where life is created for commercial purpose. Thanks for reading !

  3. Shelly · · Reply

    Great article – living in a society where I can go to the store and by meat prettily wrapped short of the bow on top it drives me crazy to think of the people who are crucified for only using the sustainable resources available to them! I often wonder and truly would like to know what the world would be like if animals where not harvested for food and clothing? I can’t imagine the diseases? Could you leave your home? Would you have a home to leave? I wish someone would do a study – I would really like to know and believe the world should know too!

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