Fur in Fashion

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fashion and fur

Fur, What’s the Big Deal?  The Fur Debate in Fashion

Fur, What’s All the Fuzz?: Fur: the facts, the controversy, the fashion!

The use of fur in fashion has become such a point of contention that it leaves most designers coughing up fur balls. But when was the last time we took a step back from the anti-fur mob mentality, and took a look at the facts surrounding the topic?

In my previous article in Phabrik Magazine I focused on the growing movement in Eco-fashion and sustainability within the fashion industry. It may shock you to learn just how Eco-friendly the use of fur can be.

Having always been one to make up my own mind, I embarked on a mission to determine fact from fiction and propaganda from reality in order to shed some much needed light on this highly debated topic. After a tremendous amount of research, I have to say, I am pro-fur… no sense beating around the bush. Now, before you condemn me, hear me out.

For Your Consideration:

Have you ever stopped to consider the impact petroleum products have on the eco system? It’s interesting, if not confounding that so many people are eager to jump on the fur trashing waggon, yelling on their megaphones, and holding up signs made of wood, plastic, and paper when in reality, forests were cut down for those signs and entire ecosystems were moved or destroyed for the oil necessary for the plastics and other synthetic materials that produced the marker that wrote the message. How many animals were harmed so protesters can protest?Fur in Fashion

Why not use synthetic fur in place of the animals? As stated above the use of synthetics requires greater devastation then using the real thing. Fur only requires the use of an animals hide, the only environmentally harmful process in refining the fur for use in fashion is the dying process which is optional, and may be substituted with organic dyes.

Now before we move on, I want address the fundamental issue surrounding fur and the reason it is such a heated issue, the ethical treatment of animals. Obviously this a broad topic, so for the sake of this article, let’s keep it in the fur trade. There exists two important points here:

  1. The quality of life of the animals living in a fur farm are regulated by laws set by governing bodies. These regulations ensure that the animals enjoy a life that is nearly as comfortable as that of a house pet. These laws are very specific and well enforced.
  2. The misdirected protesting and lobbying against government regulated farms. This protesting has led to a number of fur farms closing up shop… a victory for the persecutors? Maybe in their minds; but sadly all that is being accomplished is a shift from controlled environments to the black market. This is where one has to take a stand, poaching and the black market sale of fur is abhorrent. The fact is, the demand for fur is and will always be present, in fact, it has been there all through history. With regulated farms, the treatments of the animals is assured, and without those farms, the black market flourishes. Rather counter-productive to put so much time and energy into closing fur farms especially when considering the consequences. It’s not unlike throwing red paint on a fur coat during fashion week… fur is typically insured… the coat will be replaced; Counter-productive.

Fur in FashionsThe More You Know:

Fur farms account for 63% of all fur usage in Canada, this number is approximately 1.6 million pelts per year. Of this number these animals are cared for by the best veterinarians, they are fed a balanced diet every day, and they are cared for and monitored with the use of the regulated and legally required healthcare and breeding records. Unfortunately the 65,000 people working in the fur trade in Canada alone are under constant attack from Eco-fundamentalists who make it their mission to pass on misinformation which results in the loss of jobs and potentially the traditional art of fur crafting.

At this point it seems moot to discuss the use of leather in fashion and how in the midst of all the hype, few forums touch upon the fact that the majority of anti-fur advocates wear leather products and eat meat.celeberties in fur

Fur Today:

So with all this fur who is wearing it? I know as a fashion columnist and blogger I love to wear a fur stole or fur trim on my collars, cuffs, and hoods but who else is wearing fur? Many high profile celebrities wear fur such as Madonna, Sienna Miller, Jennifer Lopez, Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, and the list goes on and on but are celebs the only ones wearing fur? Since fur is found on nearly every type of outerwear on the trim of a hood etc. the masses are investing in fur from popular accessible brands like Andrew Marc, Danier Leather, and Canada Goose, making fur very practical.Fendi Fur

Although full fur coats are not as popular on the streets today, they are hitting the runways hard for Fall 2012. Nearly every collection used fur in some way and the shift in perspective is looking great. Noted fur advocate Karl Lagerfeld used fur in nearly every look at the Fendi Fall 2012 show. Other collection that invested in the trendy renewable resource were Marc Jacobs, Celine, Hermès, Yves Saint Laurent, Gucci, Zac Posen, and newcomer Altuzarra. With this much of the fluffy fuzz on the catwalk I can guarantee that it will be showing up more frequently on the streets; and if you can’t afford your own fur, simply dive into your grandmothers or grandfathers wardrobe and take out one of their old furs, or visit your local vintage shop. Remember, fur unlike other materials, is wonderfully resilient and can stand the test of time. You’ll often see fur being past down from generation to generation for over half a century or more. Once it has run its course, it is nice to know that it will degrade naturally and will not add to the tonnes and tonnes of cheap disposable synthetic fabrics that make up a significant percentage of our landfills.

Fur in Fashion is here to stay
Finally, I have to pose the question, “What is more Eco-Friendly?” Fur? Or piles of non-biodegradable synthetic materials? Has the use of fur become so plagued with unnecessary guilt and misinformation that we would turn our backs on a proven, quality and sustainable material?

In the Interest of Sharing, Fun Facts:

  • $800 million – The amount of money that goes directly into the Canadian economy from the fur trade each year. - http://www.furcouncil.com
  • 65,000 – The amount of people working in the fur trade in Canada. – http://www.fur.ca
  • 63% – The amount of Canadian furs that come from fur farms. – http://www.fur.ca
  • 1.6 million – The number of pelts produced from fur farms in Canada. – http://www.fur.ca
  • 1 billion – The number of cows that a killed each year for their leather. – http://www.peta.org/
  • Hydrogen Chloride – The toxic gas released when creating synthetic textiles. - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
  • 9% – The percentage of man made textiles in landfills.
  • 2020 – The year the world’s supply of oil and gas will fall below the level required to meet international demand. – http://www.theinsider.org

Warm, fashionable, renewable, environmentally friendly, regulated…FUR.

**To clarify (because I know some people just love to put words in others mouths): I believe STRONGLY in the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and continued measures to enforce regulations in fur farms. To do anything less is simply barbaric and it needs to stop. I am pro fur and anti animal cruelty.  Don’t get it twisted.

A note for comments.

Yep, as predicated this is a hot topic.  Do yourselves a favor and post relevant, educated comments.  People swearing or name calling don’t even  get looked by me, they are happily auto deleted (it is just a waste of your energy and really very sad).  Also, note that I am referring to fur farms in Canada and government regulated fur farms at that.  A few people have sent videos of animal mistreatment from other parts of the world.  Yes, thank you, that needs to be stopped!  and if you read the post and focus your energy where it belongs, we may just get there.   Thank you.

Comments

  1. Lesley says

    I really like this blog but this post was very disapointing.
    Everything written here that is pro-fur and against anti-fur demostrators has been known to be a marketing gimmick for many years. It’s taken out of context and neglects to mention the money spent and environmental and animal welfare issues that come from the fur industry. This article doesn’t lie, it just doesn’t tell most of the facts or distorts the facts.
    Maybe this is a really old article that has been reposted?

    • Mark St. James - Marquis of Fashion says

      Hey Lesley,
      Thanks for writing. I respect your opinion and there is merit in it. This article came about after years of being bombarded by anti fur propaganda and the startling amount of regulated fur farms that have had to shut down because of the misdirection of said hate (there are reports online detailing this from governmental bodies). I hear your point, and will be following this article up in a couple months. I would like to point out that it isn’t that the article distorts the facts, it iss simply a very realistic way of looking at them. I do not believe that fundamentalism is ever right. There is such a culture of hate that has been born from anti-fur activism and it is high time that we clear the air and focus on the core issues. This article serves as a reminder that there is another side to the story here.
      Thank you again for taking the time to read the post.
      Take care,
      Mark

  2. RonG says

    Thanks for the truthful, intelligent, informative and well organized report on the fur industry. It just amazes me how emotional sensationalism always wins out over reason and truth; how so few can shut down private businesses with near terrorist tactics. Few have employed the time or patience to learn the reality of the fur trade, thus would rather safely hide and shout from within the crowd.

    Thank you for your distinction between animal cruelty and modern fur farming. I too support humane animal programs, adoption groups, and wildlife conservation.

    I also wear a fur coat.

  3. cynthia lauren says

    Your “facts” are wrong and not based in fact. How you can find any redeeming qualities in the unnecessary killing of animals simply and only for their fur for fashion, is amazing. I supposed it is necessary for you to delude yourself and attempt to delude your readers because the reality of fur farming is not anything like you say.

    Horrifying, cruel, short sighted, vicious and ignorant. That is what those who choose to wear fur in this day and age show us.
    I am so sorry for you, so very sorry for what you lack in truth and compassion.
    May the critters you see on the other side forgive you.

    • Mark St. James - Marquis of Fashion says

      Cynthia,
      Thank you for your comment. First, these are not “my facts” they are simply facts. It is so sad to me that you would prefer the black market sales of fur and have opted for the perpetuation of cruelty to animals with your inability to look at the regulated fur trade with an open mind and take it upon yourself to read, be informed, and make an educated decision. Perhaps this is what it boils down to, education. There is so much misinformation out there that it can be difficult to see that there are actually several benefits to using fur. I wonder, do you wear leather? Eat meat? Corn? Own a car? Do you have or use anything plastic? Have you any idea the animals harmed by using any of the above?
      The point of this article was to illustrate that jumping on the hate wagon against government regulated fur farms is mindless and only serves to shift the market to non regulated outlets. Which would you rather Cynthia, animals protected and treated well under the law, or poaching?
      I once again have to make this perfectly clear. I LOVE animals and think that animal cruelty is abhorrent. It is simply the lesser of two evils and will ultimately serve to save the lives and end the cruelty to animals.
      Also as a side note I was NOT paid to write this article and all of my facts have been checked by government or other highly regulated websites including PETA.
      I have also done due diligence and contacted the governement where I spoke with representatives who maintain the laws that protect animals. Fur farms are watched like a hawk and any odd behavior results in a full scale investigation.
      In the next few weeks I will be visiting a fur farm for my own information and see for myself the standards in which these animals are treated.
      I assure you if there is any sign of cruelty I will report truthfully on it.
      Mark St. James
      Marquis of Fashion

  4. yokes says

    wow, which fur company paid you to write this? this article is seriously twisted and out of scale. The plastics used for the markers to write anti-fur signs on boards? You, author, don’t get it twisted, and I don’t say this with anger but more with plea. I wonder if people will even buy what you wrote- sadly people who place fashion over ethical and moral values will blindly agree. How can you compare 30 to 40 million animals dying every year to maybe a few hundred people using markers for their signs?! And do you know how little the government is really enforcing this “quality of life” at these fur farms? You’ve seen the images and videos, I hope, of the under cover investigations at these fur farms.. Governments barely regulate restaurants of the food you eat- governments overlook so many important things for humans- what makes you think they actually regulate anything for animals? As long as there exists even 10 fur farms in the world that abuse animals and skin them alive, fur represents death and suffering. Most anti-fur advocates also DO NOT WANT people to wear fake fur as other people are unaware it is synthetic . Seriously, how is it so necessary to wear fur, anyways, when there are other alternatives? Why do you think millions of animals must die so you can wear that fur trim or coat?? If you have a pet dog- can I go and kidnap him and kill him and skin him for my vest?? What makes people think humans had the god-given right to kill animals for…fashion?

    I beg you to reconsider, but before that, to watch the video here. If you can watch this and still believe that animals don’t suffer, and you still think it’s okay some *some* animals suffer terribly and *some*(if this exists) don’t suffer for the sake of fashion, then go ahead and wear what you want. If you watch this video and you can still feel this way, I won’t try to fight you because your heart is somewhere I probably have no access to. But next time you write an article like this, maybe you can try to reevaluate your and the world’s placement of fashion over good values and morals.

    • Mark St. James - Marquis of Fashion says

      Hi Yokes,
      Thanks for writing, but please read the article again, you’ve missed the point. I am referring to fur farms in Canada. The point regarding the use of synthetic material is to clearly illustrate that the amount time and energy people put into anti-fur would be better severed in other areas. It is simply fact Yokes, the use of man made material harms more animals than the fur trade, I invite you to do the research. In fact, in the amount of time it took you to write the comment, you could given you self a primer on fur farm polices, the laws and the amount of waste and harm the alternatives cause. I’m not saying, let’s use fur for everything as you seem to suggest, I am pointing that there is a lot of misdirection in anti-fur these days.

      Lastly to touch on your point: “What makes people think humans had the god-given right to kill animals for…fashion?” Using your logic, what gives humans the right to eat animals? Wear leather? Convert entire eco-systems for farmland? Where do you get to draw the line? Have you really weighted the impact of the alternatives? Who gave you the right to dictate what people should and should not wear? It is a slippery slope when using that kind of rational.

      Thank you for writing.

  5. David Sobel says

    Mark .. you can white wash your argument any deceptive way possible. The truth is the animals raised for fur are NOT raised humanely and are killed BRUTALLY. They are SKINNED ALIVE. Have you ever imagined what that must feel like? You should. SCREW the celebrities that wear fur. They are despicable. And SCREW your ecological argument that alternatives to fur are bad for the environment. What a bunch of crap. EVERYTHING is bad for the environment. We humans are slowly destroying the planet just be being here. But that doesn’t mean we get to cause unimaginable misery, suffering and torture to wear the fur of a helpless animal. I pray you follow Stella McCartney’s example and find a fashion alternative. Humans are a despicable species, and humans like you are the worst.

    • Mark St. James - Marquis of Fashion says

      Hey David,
      Oh wow, you have a rather grim view of the world my friend. It is really sad that you’d try to hurt my feelings and resort to name calling…it really makes you look silly. Again, I am referring to government regulated fur farms. It is no wonder that so much hate goes flying about. Regulated fur farms absolutely DO NOT kill the animals in that way. Please EDUCATE yourself on the AVMA’s policies. PS I love Stella McCartney and respect her choices
      PPS
      If you live in Canada and would like to come along on a tour of a fur farm to put this to rest, I would welcome you.
      -Mark

  6. Emma says

    Mark, Thanks for the post. It is about time time someone had the manliness to step up and say Hey! stop being counter productive and stop the real abuse. I can cringe at the spam you must be getting, but I’m sure educated individuals will agree with you. If people stopped hating on fur (that comes from lawful fur farms) in fashion, they’d have a lot more time and credibility to stop poachers and illegal fur practices. Long comment;) but keep it up and thanks.

    • Mark St. James - Marquis of Fashion says

      Thanks Emma!
      Your support is appreciated and you’re spot on.
      Thank you,
      Mark

  7. Melissa MacDonald says

    There is no need to wear fur. Fur belongs on the animals, not on humans. It is more than a sustainability issue, it is a moral and etical issue as well. Wearing leather is the same thing. What gives humans the right to wear, eat and destroy animals? We only think we have the right because it is based on the myths perpetuated by the status quo, and unfortunately the status quo is so pervasive. The only true way that humans will ever experience peace in this world is to stop murdering, period. We need to stop looking at non-human animals as commodities. They do not exist for us, they exist for themselves.

    • Mark St. James - Marquis of Fashion says

      Hi Melissa,
      Thank you for writing. While I do not share your point of view I certainly respect it. I’m glad you touch on the fact that if we shouldn’t wear fur, we shouldn’t wear leather or use animal products in general. I’ve always found the argument so hypocritical when the person on the other side of the table uses some form of animal product. Good comment, something to consider.
      Thank you.
      -Mark

  8. Allen says

    It’s funny how many people are misinformed about the fur trade in North America. My magazine published an enlightening article and was inundated with the worst comments. Small minded people so unhappy in their own lives that they choose a mission to champion and land up working against the very goal they signed on with. In short, I agree with your assessment, lobbyists would make more of an impact if they left law abiding fur farms alone and focused solely on poaching and countries without animal rights. Just a thought, you may want to include a list of designers that use regulated fur farms for their collections and the legalities surrounding the use of fur in the fashion industry.

    • Mark St. James - Marquis of Fashion says

      Hi Allen,
      Thank you, I’ll be putting together a follow up article and will take you up on your advice.
      Thanks!

  9. Lola says

    There is a section in your article where you suggest that protesters themselves wear leather and eat meat. Have you talked to them? In that photograph, you don’t know if that thing around her neck is leather or pleather, a lot of protesters wear pleather and it would be good for to to talk to some of them and actually understand that most of them don’t eat meat or use animal products. You may be talking about fur farms in Canada but it doesn’t matter where it’s from, promoting fur to cause higher demand means animals will be treated worse, do you really think each animal is highly cared for and treated like a pet when, according to your statistics, 1.8 million pelts come out of canada each year?

    • Mark St. James - Marquis of Fashion says

      Hi Lola,
      To answer your question:
      -Yes I have spoken to protesters, matter of fact, I have been yelled at by protesters wearing leather, comically enough, the man beside her was holding a McDonald’s Hamburger.
      -I’m not advocating more fur on the runway, I am saying that there is a lot of misdirected activism and it would be better served elsewhere.
      -Lastly I’ll write you when I have pictures of the fur farm I am visiting.

  10. Julie says

    This is a great article. Thank you. Protesters have no place judging and attacking others for their choice to wear ethical fur.
    Cheers.

  11. Mark St. James - Marquis of Fashion says

    Comments are now closed for this article. There is only enough room to answer so many questions or rebut statements; further more, hateful, nonsensical comments are useless and have no place on this site. I have addressed the concerns of others in the comments above. That will have to suffice. There will be more on fur farms in future posts. Thanks to those of you sharing your positive support and thank you to those who shared their point of view in a polite, rational manner.
    Mark St. James – Marquis of Fashion