The Fur Debate
Nothing embodies the winter season quite like luxurious furs, but considering all we know about the fur trade, is it morally okay to wear it?
From Roberto Cavalli to Alexander McQueen, fur holds its usual place of prestige. In an age when the fashion world is trying harder than ever to be eco-friendly and socially aware, one has to wonder why this controversial trend is still so ubiquitous.
The wearing of fur is one of the most talked about topics in fashion. Is it morally wrong to wear an animal that has been bred to be slaughtered for fashion? The obvious answer is yes, but then why is the fur trade still thriving? Is it hypocritical to shun the wearing of fur if you eat meat? These and many other questions to which there are no clear answers arise again and again, making the fur debate a deeply divided issue.
The release of a PETA video last year, which showed the horrifying ordeal of an angora rabbit in China being plucked, sent shockwaves through the world, and resulted in UK and Irish high street shops pulling all garments containing angora from the shelves. I made it through twenty seconds of the video before I had to turn it off in abject horror. The cruelty was intolerable, and prompted me to vow never to buy anything containing the animal’s wool. The high street’s reaction was quick, and showed a positive step forward in animal rights.
I do still, however, own bags and shoes made of leather, and I eat meat. Also, I don’t always recycle and sometimes I forget to reply to my parent’s e-mails, but this isn’t meant to be a confession on my personal failings. I’m pointing out that it’s hard to ascertain where to draw the line when it comes to the treatment of animals. I consider myself a reasonably socially aware person and wouldn’t personally buy real fur, but should my grandmother’s mink coat get passed down to me someday, I’d find it pretty hard to not wear it.
There is little transparency on how the animals that we consume in one way or another are treated. Generally speaking, the fur trade is known to be cruel. PETA have been conducting their “I’d rather go naked than wear fur” campaign since 1991, and have gotten some of the world’s best-known people, such as Naomi Campbell and Pamela Anderson, to bare all for animal rights. So why in an age when the cruelty of the trade is well known, are people ignoring the information in favour of fashion?
Fur has long been a status symbol for the ultra-wealthy, although thanks to the efforts of Kim Kardashian it’s now certainly taking on trashy connotations. Mrs Kanye West herself was the “victim” of a PETA flour bombing in 2012, in recognition of her sizeable fur collection.
It’s time to address the usage of fur in fashion. While I don’t think it’s realistic that the fur trade will ever be banned, it should certainly be better regulated to ensure animals have a decent quality of life, and are not hunted to extinction. Fantastic faux fur pieces are currently available all over the high street shops. Cossack-style hats call to mind “Doctor Zhivago”, and a leopard print coat is a fun way to brighten up a simple outfit. If you’re determined to buy real fur, at least consider going vintage.
Words – Laura Hastings
Photograph – Tarmo Tulit
Model – Shauna Lindsay