The Fake Debate: is real fur worth it?

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After a long period of abstinence from fur, more designers are now flocking back to the most primal of materials in both its real and faux forms. The appeal is obvious; fur reeks class and glamour, real and otherwise, fur remains a hugely versatile, beautiful and unique material.

Shrimps - London Based Faux Fur Fashion Label

Shrimps – London Based Faux Fur Fashion Label

The use of real fur is however still deeply controversial, activism against fur is one of PETA’s five main issues and the organisations iconic 90s ‘I’d Rather go Naked than Wear Fur’ campaign sparked an anti-fur movement which continues today. Largely, fur is seen as grotesquely unnecessary, supporting the mistreatment and slaughter of animals for vain indulgence. Fur has long been a luxury item and does not lend itself to mass production, this means this stigma of cruelty is often accompanied by the idea of fur as a flashy way for higher classes to parade wealth. There’s no wonder why it fell out of favour of the general public.

PETA's 'We'd Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur' Campaign launched 1991

PETA’s ‘We’d Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur’ Campaign launched 1991

Because of the furore surrounding fur it’s easy to flatly disagree with its use without really thinking about it. Faux fur is seen as a stigma free, ethical alternative which still incorporates the rich history of fur. Stella McCartney, a life-long vegetarian and animal rights activist stands strongly at the forefront of the faux fur revolution.

The ‘Fur-Free Fur’ coats from her autumn/winter 2015 collection highlight the ability for designers to produce realistic fur designs without the animal cruelty concern. McCartney also voices anti-fur propaganda for PETA, footage of grossly mistreated animals at fur farms are accompanied by McCartney pleading with the public to abandon the use of fur.

Stella McCartney 'Fur-Free Fur' AW15

Stella McCartney ‘Fur-Free Fur’ AW15

These videos are not unlike pro-vegetarian/vegan ones or even those highlighting the horror of sweatshops, but fur continues to be demonised and avoided far more than the eating of meat or the consumption of cheap, fast fashion. This continues to be the case despite a commitment by the biggest players in the fur trade to ethically sourced and humane fur.

One of the first things you see on the International Fur Federation’s website is the welfare section. Programs such as ‘Origin Assured’ ensure that fur has met local or national regulations before it can be sold in the international fur market. Saga Furs, a Swedish based furrier’s tagline is ‘Quality – Innovation – Responsibility’ and claims to only source furs from strictly regulated European farms.

This shows how the ancient fur trade is listening and adapting to the relatively modern concern of animal welfare. In design this translates to truly amazing clothing, Saga Furs runs a sponsorship programme for fashion students who use fur innovatively and standing oppositional to McCartney are fashion houses like Fendi, who’s ethically sourced, stunning fur designs make McCartney’s look drab in comparison.

Saga Furs

Saga Furs

The issue with fur seems to go further than concerns about animal welfare therefore. Despite fur which is more ethical than the meat we eat there is still something which makes it seem far more repulsive than eating meat. Fur is a class issue, it embodies the indulgence of the upper classes more fully than any other item. A fur coat illustrates a primeval dominance over the world and the assuredly hefty price tag demonstrates an economic supremacy. The pure extravagance of fur makes it easy to be anti, as the chances are, I wouldn’t be able to afford it anyway.

Where do you stand in the fake debate? We’d love to know your thoughts – tweet us @libertybellemag.


Words by Casey Mackins

Jess is your Deputy Editor

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