Fashion and Fur

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Chris Nicholls, (2013), Passing Time [ONLINE]. Available at: http://www.fashiongonerogue.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/alina-baikova-model7.jpg [Accessed 4 November 2016].

Stella McCartney, a sworn vegan designer has been quoted as saying “I think the fashion industry can get away with a lot, and it’s getting away with murder. Fur is the most unnecessary thing in the world”. A controversial topic for many; fur has been seen as a staple within the fashion industry, surviving over the decades where other trends have fallen. Many, however argue that its sole function has been, and always will be, a display of wealth over anything else.

“I think the fashion industry can get away with a lot, and it’s getting away with murder. Fur is the most unnecessary thing in the world”

However, the trend has picked up speed since the end of the nineties – somewhat surprisingly what with the rise of veganism and generally a much more environmentally conscious outlook. It would seem that real-fur sales have increased globally by 58% according to The British Fur Trade Association. Therefore, due the renowned price of fur, faux fur has become the highstreet alternative. Well made faux fur has the ability to look – and potentially feel – as good as the real thing, just for a fraction of the cost; allowing highstreet brands to showcase the trend without the backlash from the public. It would seem that showing fur was a privilege left to the high end designers (some 500 of them using real fur in their collections) – still they would receive negative press for it, but it is almost as if it is seemingly more acceptable. Animal rights groups such as PETA have always campaigned against the use of real fur, describing the act as inhumane, cruel and unnecessary due to the manageable production of faux fur – a belief shared by many across the world. However, in recent years there have been arguments that claim the use of real fur is more environmentally sound that the production of faux fur.

The International Fur Trade Federation claims that ‘it is undeniable that fake fur is made from non-renewable petroleum-based products, such as nylon, acrylic and polyester, then treated with heat and chemicals to improve its look and feel. These industrial processes use three times as much non-renewable energy as real fur’. With a rising concern of global warming; and an ever present fear for the sustainability of future generations, is it time that we now look beyond the arguments of cruel intention and instead look to the potential environmental benefits of the use of real fur.

There is a suggestion that, due to the nature of fast-fashion, faux fur garments are often dumped after one season, left to rot in landfill and decompose extremely slowly. Real fur however, is able to naturally biodegrade after about six months and unlike many faux fur production companies, is often ethically sourced. Faux fur is produced in large industrial factories; that are sometimes called into question over the condition of their workers and potential child labour policies. Animals from which fur is sourced are often kept in healthy living conditions in order to maintain their coats, and are generally killed quickly and humanely; often being culled to balance natural eco-systems.

However there are many who claim that the dyes and protectors used on real fur negate its biodegradability; and that there is more of a demand for certain types of fur, leaving many species more endangered than others. There still also remains the longest standing argument of them all; that fur is only acceptable upon the back of the animal that was born with it.

by Sophie Daniel

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