Fur Real?!

by Tara Murphy

The Fashion Industry is used as a classic example of a, somewhat, functioning circular economy. A fully circular economy (is this even possible?) would produce no waste, however, the clothing industry inevitably creates waste through consumption and store rejects. But there are some products that people are hesitant to buy even from a second-hand platform, fur being one of them.

My housemate recently bought a white “faux” fur coat, or so she thought, only to return it the next day after fear of being stigmatised for wearing, after researching it, what turned out to be a real fur coat.

So what is to be the fate of that fur coat?

Shall it be shamed forever and thrown into a landfill, will it be bought by a ‘closet criminal’ who fears being labelled Cruella De Vil should they wear it outside, or will it be worn by a vintage-fashion loving individual who thrives off societal controversy?

The fur industry has become synonymous with imagery of abused animals being skinned alive and tortured. Because of this, many designers and consumers have been shamed for condoning these practices through their support of fur products. The last decade has seen a significant increase of activism against animal cruelty, in the beauty industry as well, that have pushed fur products out of the market.

Today, many high-end designers such as Gucci (maybe it was all the success surrounding their ‘fur-lined’ loafer?..), Versace and Jimmy Choo -amongst others- have all announced they’re going fur-free. Designers that do use fur are pressured to source all their fur from “sustainable” suppliers. This basically means that the furs come off animals that are farmed to a higher standard in terms of ‘lifestyle’ or from animals that have died naturally in the wild [For information: wearefur.com]. Whether or not this makes the fur more “ethical” is a debate that runs somewhat parallel to the ‘vegetarian or non-vegetarian’ argument. However, it seems that certain types of harvesting such as wild fur harvesting, could definitely be a more sustainable alternative to previous fur production methods, as it’s making use of the remains, and this has been traditionally passed down and is still practiced in indigenous communities. It’s argued that real-fur harvesting, when done right, is more sustainable than faux fur because of the resources used in production.

In the effort to move towards a more circular economy, fur needs to be rebranded so that wearing and buying second-hand furs is no longer vilified. The alternative is that the furs in the market will go to waste when they could easily be repurposed (Animal bedding) or recycled to second-hand buyers, and the employment of those dependent on the fur industry is at risk. How do we realign their efforts with what we expect now as consumers? How we do we reshape the biases surrounding certain industries to reinvent them? This was a question I pondered on whilst at the WBCSD amongst companies who have known similar forms of public criticism, and it’s detrimental effects on an industry.

Relevant Links:

Sustainable Fur advocates – https://www.wearefur.com/responsible-fur/

‘Is there a way to feel good about fur?’ – https://qz.com/356854/theres-actually-a-way-to-feel-good-about-fur/

‘Fur, a renewable resource’ – http://www.furisgreen.com/renewable.aspx

 

Image: Drocell 2011 (Creatvie Commons)

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