Fur? In 2018?! I know..
It is fair to say, despite my rage, that fur is making a comeback. A study by Copenhagen University has found that real fur is more popular in the UK than it has been for decades, and that UK fur sales had doubled in the last five years (cited by The BBC in 2016). Despite efforts from animal rights activists across the UK the fur trade seems to be booming. I only have to step onto Reading high-street and within seconds I’ll spot someone wearing coyote, mink or rabbit. It’s both disgusting and heart breaking.
So why is fur making a comeback? Well, it’s largely to do with the fashion industry and their celebrity endorsements. Whilst it gave me some hope to hear in the latter part of 2017 that Gucci pledge to go fur free in 2018 I am still worried by how many influential fashion companies are still buying into the cruel fur industry.
On the topic of celebrity endorsements, the Kardashian’s are apparently the most photographed family in the world and therefore their obsession with wearing dead animals is seen by millions through their social media accounts, as well as on TV and in the press. The Kardashian’s aren’t the only guilty party though, there are many other celebrities on the cruelty waggon, including; Lady Gaga, J-Lo, Kate Moss and Rihanna. But lets not just target women here because men are certainly just as bad. Kanye West, Justin Beiber and Kid Rock are openly proud fur wearers. It seems for many celebrities that parading around in the skins of dead animals is one of their favourite ways to flaunt their wealth. Whilst members of the public, desperate for some sort of status among their peers are copying the ‘trend’.
The facts about fur
According to Last Chance For Animals each year, more than 1 billion rabbits and 50 million other animals, including foxes, seals, mink, cats and dogs, are raised on fur farms or trapped in the wild and killed for their pelts. Because we import from China and other countries with poor regulation, it can often be mislabelled as “faux.” Depending on the size of the garment, up to 100 animals or more may be killed for a just one coat.
Common ways that animals are trapped involve leg holds, drowning sets and conibear traps which can all leave an animal suffering extreme pain for a lengthy time before they die. Animals are known to chew through their own limbs just to escape.
How can you tell if you’re wearing real fur?
How to spot the difference:
- Separate the fur at the base. If it’s fake, you will see fabric webbing. If it’s real, it will be attached to skin.
- The burn test: Clip off the tip of the fibres and set light to them. If they melt like plastic, it’s fake. If they singe and smell of burning hair, it’s real.
How not to spot the difference:
- Don’t be fooled by the price. It can be cheaper to produce real fur in China than synthetic alternatives.
- Don’t assume fake fur must be poor quality. It can be difficult to tell fake and real apart because fake fur can be of such good quality.
- Don’t believe everything you read. Complicated labelling rules are often flouted and the label only has to reflect 80% of the item’s composition so a fur trim may be omitted. Labelling laws do not apply to accessories such as shoes and handbags
So, with all that in mind..
..are we helping or hindering the anti-fur campaigners by wearing faux fur, considering how many people are buying real fur mislabelled as faux? When confronted by activists many members of the public try to defend themselves by saying that they are not aware they are actually wearing real fur. Let’s assume all these people are in fact innocently telling the truth and they didn’t know, they’re still showing us that faux fur is very popular and as long as we continue to import from countries with poor regulations we can’t promise faux is ever really faux.
‘But what about leather?’ I hear you say – and rightly so! There are so many synthetic leathers available now. Whilst this is fantastic and I adore my vegan Doc Martens I do find myself wondering if I’m actually fuelling the ever-popular leather trade in the same way that faux fur might fuel the fur trade. I have noticed myself subconsciously choosing only to wear them around close friends and other vegans, or if I’m out in public not waving the vegan flag. Here’s why…
I go out on the streets and get involved in activism when I can to try and educate the public about the ways in which animals are exploited by humans, as well as to try promote a vegan lifestyle. On occasion I have worn my vegan Doc Martens and I have had members of the public accuse me of being a hypocrite because ‘[your] wearing leather boots!’. My response is usually that if you are that convinced my shoes look like real leather, then I have proven my point that we don’t need to kill animals and wear their skin! However, I can tell that sometimes they just think i’m lying. I find myself wondering if for every one person that spoke out about thinking I wore leather how many other passers by are thinking the same thing without saying anything? So am I really getting people to consider stopping wearing animals or to listen to me about animal exploitation at all? This could apply to any other activist wearing faux fur, wool, suede, silk and so on.
Now, I just want to stress that I am not claiming that we should or shouldn’t be wearing the synthetic alternatives and of course, if we are wearing synthetics we aren’t directly paying for animal cruelty. However, I can’t help but wonder if we are unknowingly persuading others to go out and buy both faux fur (which could and often does turn out to be real) or if people are just going straight for the real fur because they think everyone around them is wearing real fur and therefore it must be okay. If so, should we consider not wearing the alternatives? Again, this post is more me thinking out loud than dictating what other vegans and animal rights activists should do. I would honestly love to hear other peoples thoughts on this topic.