Before we get all serious and factual, this is a summary of this post.
“Fur epitomised a dream of glamour in the height of fashion, a longing for comfort and success.” (Carol Dyhouse), but this image of glamour comes as a result of murder in reality. The fur trade feeds on ignorance, (Tim Phillips) of people who are emotionally and physically disconnected from the exploited animals their fur garments are coming from. Animals that are farmed for their fur are housed in unbearably confined spaces, with significant numbers in countries such as Europe, North America, Argentina, China and Russia, where this industry thrives. The animals that are the most commonly used and abused for our demand for fur are minks and foxes, followed by chinchillas, lynxes, hamsters, wolf, beaver, seals and rabbits (PETA). Real and faux fur continues to be glamourised on the runway, and the general public having minimal knowledge about the atrocities that are behind their perceptions of glamour. The questions raised here are “How does ignorance change the industry?” and “ how is murder okay in the name of fashion?”.
How does ignorance change the industry?
Fur as clothing was initially for practicality reasons, providing warmth and durability and to protect our bodies from harsh climatic conditions. Additionally, hunters at the time believed that the wear of animal skin in fur provoked strength, power, courage, skills, prowess and fertility. Later, in European culture, it then became an object of luxury and signified social status. Thus, desire for fur overrode its original usage to provide its wearing with basic needs of warmth and protection. As the demand for fur has increased, the industry and its processes of manufacturing has gotten out of control in order to keep up with this demand.
With growing middle classes from the early 20th century onwards, there were more people with disposable incomes. This meant there were more customers on the market for luxury goods, and an increasing demand for products such as fur coats and garments dressed or trimmed with fur. Increased demand for fur created an opening in the market for less expensive furs such as muskrat, wolf, racoon, rabbit, lamb, and others. Despite customers not being able to see where these products come from, it does not stop them from shopping the high end luxury furs that appeared in the latest New York fashion week, and regularly in other fashion shows and brand’s collections. Although the general public are educated on some level about such matters through the media, those consumers fur generally choose to ignore the bloodshed of murder which occurs to create these products. Such bloodshed includes the 70 million minks that were farmed in 2015, the 3.7 million foxes were specifically bred for fur in 2010, the 4.6 million animals who were trapped to be used for fur in the US, and the 365,000 seals that were hunted in the Canadian seal hunt in 2004. These statistics are readily available and publicised, yet the consumers choose to ignore.
As Tim Phillips says “I do not think people who have fur items, or items with fur trim, are necessarily wilfully cruel, they’re more likely to be simply unaware of the reality of the product.” With the consumers continuing to ignore the facts, the industry continues to grow.
The infamous animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animal’s (PETA) campaign “I’d Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur” has helped bring fur sales down. The campaign implements the advertising tactic of using sex to sell. It promotes the idea of wearing someone else’s skin is wrong through provocative advertisements. Although proven effective in its cause, it has drawn more attention for its PETA’s exploitation of women in the public eye. People are choosing to ignore the intended message, and deterring it to an issue which is preferred to be discussed.
how is ‘wearing murder’ right in the name of ‘fashion’?
“The late Victorian period witnessed an alarming gruesome Vogue for wearing of jackets, hats and mudds trimmed with whole birds, stuffed kittens’ heads and baby squirrels.” and animals only being kept alive to use their fur rather than to use their body for meat.
The ‘demand for beaver pelts had driven that animal to the brink of extinction in Europe and Scandinavia in the 18th Century.’ One billion rabbits were murdered for their fur a year, Angora rabbits are only bred for their fur, and not used for meat at all which is a common misconception that rabbit fur is a ‘by-product’ of the meat industry. It is not.The answer is, it’s not right to breed animals only for their fur.
The fur industry is wasteful of our animal population, living lives in cages only to be skinned to their deaths. Most of the fur skins used by the trade come from fur factory farms and are purchased at the many fur auctions that take place around the world each year. One of the largest of these is the Kopenhagen.
Jackie Recek, head designer of Australian label Simona says “We feel [that using real fur] is cruel. We decided to introduce faux fur into our autumn/winter collection as, globally, it’s a current fashion statement and we feel that faux fur can tell the same story, but in a more suitable manner.” Here we see that there has been enlightenment to the facts and a shift in the perceptions of the industry towards where they get their goods that go into their clothing from. The industry is able to continue with the luxurious ideas of fur coats and accessories, by simply making them faux. We can continue to wear this once an essential for survival, now a pure fashion statement, cruelty free by simply using the readily developed materials to make replications of our luxury wear. There would be no need to farm animals for their fur, nor trap them in their natural habitat. We would be using less resources to feed and kill the animals in their masses, than to produce the pieces.
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So, is the industry affected by the ignorance of its consumers? The answer is yes. The murder involved in the fur industry thrives on it. The children that are being exposed to the barbaric practice making difference in their lives? It is contributing to the ignorance as they are not being educated on both sides; and the murder for fashion is morally wrong. If you wouldn’t want to murder your pet and wear it, why would you support an industry that is killing billions of animals each year in the name of fashion.