Is Fur Making a Comeback?
The first time I ever touched fur was when I was four years old. An older relative had a stole and I was entranced at how soft it was and its beautiful, shimmering brown tones.
Then I saw the feet and faces — eyes, snouts and eyes — of the animals who’d been slaughtered and stitched together to make the stole. I wanted to wash my hand fast.
I felt equally horrified to read in AFP that, after the anti-fur campaigns of the 1980s and 1990s, the efforts of groups like PETA and the passing of a fur ban in West Hollywood last year, the fur trade is making a comeback. Fashion designers have been putting fur “back on the catwalks” and “luxury-hungry China” has helped global fur sales to rise by 70 percent in the past decade, to the tune of 15 billion dollars.
According to AFP, the fashion industry’s heavyweights (Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton, Jean Paul Gaultier, etc. etc.) are not just turning out your grandmother’s mink coat. They’re using “lightweight fur” for summer clothing. Former British MP Mark Oaten, now the head of the International Fur Trade Federation (IFTF), says that countries with decidedly non-arctic temperatures (Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Brazil) are targets. As he comments, ”This industry tends to follow where the wealth is.”
Philippe Beaulieu, head of the French Fur association, tells AFP more about how to make fur wearable in hotter climates: “There are no hang-ups about putting fur on the summer catwalks, because it can be shaved so close it becomes like velvet or silk.” One wonders, why go to all the trouble to kill animals, skin them and shave, laser cut, etc. their fur so it is “like velvet or silk”? Especially when one could (for instance) simply use actual velvet or, indeed, fake fur.
IFTF is planning a new ad campaign in magazines like Vogue, GQ and Home and Garden; fur is being labeled an essential for the fashionista and for men, too. The ad campaign will attempt to tackle the glaring ethical issues about using fur directly by emphasizing the IFTF’s “Origin Assured” (OA) labeling campaign. Fur with this designation must be from a country in line with Council of Europe standards on fur farming regarding “cage size, access to water, type and regularity of feed, housing conditions and pain-free slaughtering techniques.”
Countries that adhere to OA standards of producing fur are Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, the Netherlands, Norway and the United States. But 25 percent of the world’s fur comes from China, which does not follow OA standards, and certainly not for the fur products sold in its domestic market.
Indeed, last year, “cruelty-free” fox boleros and coyote shrugs could be found on the racks of Manhattan department stores, say Bloomberg, and sales of mink were up. 19 percent of people said they would be more likely to buy fur designated OA.
Frankly, the OA standards, with their claims that the “fur trade is committed to sustainable and responsible practice,” seems nothing more than an unabashed propaganda campaign on the part of the fur industry, to give the appearance that it is concerned about ethical issues.
Unlike the grotesque stole my relative wore so many years ago, the furs used in the latest fashion creations on Paris runways have the faces and feet and tails of the poor creatures chopped away and the blood washed off. But there is just no way around the fact that if you’re wearing fur, you’re draping the skins and corpses of dead animals over yourself.
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Photo by Spider.Dog