Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Fur Real?

I have completed Lucy Siegle’s To Die For which I must say I thought was a well researched and easily accessible introduction to sustainable fashion and becoming a more intelligent and informed fashion consumer. The leather and fur industries associated with fashion are areas I have not researched prior to opening this book. The chapter ‘Animal Prints’ drew to my attention these industries, in particular the fur industry.

Although barely out of my Ellesse tracksuit during the mid-nineties and below the age of 10, I strongly remember images of the PETA ‘We’d rather go naked than wear fur’ backed by the supermodels of the era. I wouldn’t start flexing my fashion muscles until at least 2002 when I swapped my tracksuit for flared jeans and a bright pink jacket. Another purchase during this period was a denim jacket with a detachable faux fur collar and faux fur poking out of the cuffs.

I believe this must have been the start of the infiltration of fur back into the wardrobe, or at least the playground. Eskimo coats with fur (definitely fake in my hometown of Coventry) trimmed hoods and pompoms along with jackets similar to my denim variety were a staple for the teenage schoolgirl during the colder months.

Looking back at this period I do not recall considering the PETA fur campaign while sporting my jacket. However I do remember removing the collar due to hating the scratching, cheap quality of the faux fur against my neck. I couldn’t remove the fur at the cuffs as this was sewn in, which frustrated me as the fur clumped together and matted. Several brushing attempts could not revive the fur back to its previous glory.

I can safely say that jacket didn’t last beyond that season; however I do believe it is still at my parent’s house hidden in the depth of the cupboard under the stairs.

Since 2009, fur has officially been back on trend and being used as the main fabric for gilets, jackets and coats. The main focus on this fur trend was the real kind which all the celebs were wearing and could be easily picked up by your average consumer in the trendy vintage shops.

During my 6 month (over the winter of 2010-11) stint at working in a vintage shop in Camden I certainly saw the consumer interest in fur sky rocket. We sold both real and faux and in order to maintain my minimum wage job I had to pull in as many sales as possible. The fur always seemed to do this job well and I kept telling myself and the customers ‘vintage is better, faux is better’.

But is vintage really better? Is it justified that an animal was skinned (potentially still conscious) many decades ago to make it ok to were that pelt now?

And what of faux fur? Animal welfare is maintained, but is it still ok to plummet resources into recreating a product that already exists?

Faux Vs. Real

Here I have tried to compare real and faux fur with the help of Lucy Siegle by evaluating the pros and cons of both (I hope you can read my scrawl):

Personally I struggle to evaluate where my opinion swings on this subject as I find both to be just as bad as each other. The shear amount of chemicals used for both faux and real fur makes my skin crawl (this phrase is probably more literal for the workers processing the material).

I have always struggled to develop an opinion on whether fur (faux or real) actually looks good to wear. Our species spent thousands of years shedding our fur as it was completely unnecessary for our survival. It is however now acceptable to throw fur from another animal onto our hair-less frames for fashion’s sake. Cool, eh?

I believe I have developed my opinion: fur is…. pointless.