Unfortunately it is that time of year again. The days are getting shorter, the nights are getting colder and winter has knocked on our door and hit us smack bang in the face. Personally, I am one who struggles to embrace the cold weather. I often find myself trying to flee the country with a suitcase full of bikinis when I get even a small whiff that winter is closing in on me. And, if the cold isn’t enough to have me reaching for my passport and planning my getaway, the women that creep around wearing hideous fur clothing often seal the deal and have me out of the country en route to the tropics quicker then I can say Piña Colada.
In my opinion, fur is a really beautiful thing…when it is on the back of the animal it belongs to. When I ask people why they choose to wear the fur of however many dead animals over wearing faux fur, I often get the same response; ‘I like fur and it is my choice if I want to wear it’. This baffles me. I often sit and go, wow, what a selfish response. Yes, of course it is your choice to wear whatever you want, however when it comes to fur, people often forget the ones who had no choice – the dozens of dead animals fur-wearers have draped over their cold shoulders (read: soul).
For those who are not familiar with the fur industry, more than 50 millions animals are killed every year for their fur. Yes, you read that correctly. I am sure most of you will not be surprised to learn that most of the worlds fur comes from China where there are virtually no animal rights laws. In China, the conditions that animals are kept in, whether they be rabbits, foxes, raccoons, dogs, cats, whatever, are nothing short of deplorable. Most of these beautiful creatures are kept in tiny wire cages on huge fur farms where disease and injuries are widespread. When it is time for them to be skinned, they are removed from their cages, bludgeoned or anally electrocuted and then hung up by their legs or tails and skinned alive, all while fully conscious. Some of the animals are still alive 10 minutes after being completely skinned. Can you even comprehend that pain? And for what, someones fur coat? Horrifying!
Even worse, Chinese production companies often mislabel fur as being from another species and sell it to unsuspecting customers in retail stores around the world. For example, dog and cat fur has been found on countless occasions in fur accessories. Yes, dog and cat. So if you buy fur there is no real way of knowing what kind of fur you are actually buying.
So, how do you know if fur is real or fake? There are a few ways to tell. Firstly, the price. Often real fur garments are very expensive and they will often state on the tag what kind of fur the item is made from (says mink, probably dog, let’s be real here!). Another way is to see what kind of ‘material’ the fur protrudes from by separating the fur and looking closely at the base. Real fur will generally sprout from a tightly sewn threaded base or skin (extra gross), where as faux is more likely to have a mesh or a visibly synthetic base. If the tips of the hairs also taper to a fine point, you can be pretty sure you are holding a real fur item as faux fur usually has more of a blunt end. In time you generally start to have a pretty good eye for what is real and what is faux, however if if you ever have doubts with an item, it is best to avoid it entirely.
Now, when it comes to living a cruelty-free lifestyle in regards to wearing faux fur, there are two sides of the argument. The first being that wearing any kind of fur, whether it be faux or real, is promoting the fur industry and should be avoided at all costs. Some people think that it is too hard to tell what is real and what is faux these days and therefore all faux fur items should be avoided. I completely understand this side of the argument.
However, on the other hand, some people think that wearing a beautiful faux fur item is fantastic because it shows a demand for the faux product and if you can send a message and promote faux fur over the real thing, why wouldn’t you? Your money is often one of the best ways to cast your vote with fashion retailers and demanding faux over the real thing is a great way to show where you stand on cruelty.
Personally, I have often felt uncomfortable wearing faux fur for the most part, however I have recently opened my mind to it a bit more. The manufacturing of faux fur has come a long way in the last few years and it is now just as warm, just as soft and far more stylish than the real thing. I now own one faux fur piece from Peta-approved company Unreal Fur which looks like a big shaggy coat and I love it. It is soft, warm and no animals were harmed in the making of it. To me, it is pretty obvious that it is not a real fur item and if I can start a conversation with a random stranger about why I don’t wear real fur, then perhaps that will encourage them to avoid cruelty when they are shopping for the next warm coat.
With all this in mind, faux fur is not for everyone and whether you choose to say yay or nay to faux fur is entirely up to you. I am sure we can all agree on one thing though – that real fur is not fashionable. It is not cool. It is ugly. It is inhumane. And in the words of the great Karl Lagerfeld: ‘You cannot fake chic, but you can be chic and fake fur’.
If a faux fur piece is something you are thinking of adding to your wardrobe this winter, then look no further than these cruelty-free brands.
The Design Studio Hawarden