DOES WEARING FAUX FUR PROMOTE REAL FUR?

clem-onojeghuo-381201-unsplashFor centuries animal fur has been used by mankind as a method to “protect their bodies from climatic conditions and harm.”However, over the years the use of animal pelt has altered from a true necessity to a selfish desire that reflects upon societal status, wealth and power. It was not until the 1980s where people began to question fur as a fashion statement and for years animal rights groups have been fighting to change the laws and regulations over the trade. Over these periods technology has allowed the invention of synthetic animal fur however, “fur is a trade with a rich heritage” therefore making it more difficult to diffuse ultimately. But to what extent does wearing faux fur actually begin to promote real fur as a fashion statement?

Where we once had to rely on animal pelt for survival, now, circumstances have changed and technological advances mean we no longer have to abuse and kill animals in order to gain fur as a necessity. In the 1950’s the improvement of the quality of faux fur made the statement more accessible. The popularity grew during the 1990s when “many consumers felt it was politically incorrect to wear fur”. Faux fur was still promoting the idea that fur is a fashion statement and now it was also affordable.

However, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) state that “the best choice is to avoid it altogether.” In 2018, Hannah Weiland launched Shrimps, a quirky fashion brand that uses “carefully sourced fabrics” and faux fur for her eccentric designs. Weiland  states how faux fur allows for far more creativity. Faux fur is more profitable and the trend can still be fashionable without harming animals in the process.

9362c76f1ded7c252cd7068150eec885--shrimp-vegan-fashionOn the other hand,  fur is an economic force and a $40 billion industry that dates back centuries and is a major trade for North America and Europe. Fur is historically significant in North America supporting thousands of jobs. Despite, the ongoing backlash against the use of animal fur, the industry is said to be “the most regulated animal use industry in Europe”. Although these farms may be regulated, it comes down to a difference in how distinguishable these regulations are. Animals such as minks who are bred for their fur spend their entire lives in tiny cages before being slaughtered. However, this industry is not going anywhere but FCUSA have recognised that criteria has to be put in place for mink farmers. It is debatable how well regulations such as; attention to nutritional needs, clean, safe and appropriate housing and prompt veterinary care are ultimately managed. 

 

In the 1980s fewer than 50 fashion designers included fur in their ready-to-wear collections. This varies as popularity of mink farming and certain brands such as Fendi increase this factor. Whilst, the fur industry presents itself as responsible, it doesn’t defer from the fact that fur is a luxury item and not essential to human health or well-being as stated by Andrew Linzey. Despite the mink farming industry being banned by the Fur Farming Prohibition Act in 2000,  in the UK, the outrageous practices still go on internationally.

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Minks are confined to small wire cages with little enrichment and their behaviours are reflective of boredom and stress, such as fur chewing, and gnawing on the cage. This is common even with ‘regulated’ farms, however, this is even worse in China where their 35 million pelts accounted for around 40% of the market in 2014. The same industry that has no penalties for abusing animals on fur farms, which is what makes fur in the fashion industry so disturbing.

On the contrary, the materials used in producing faux fur are particularly detrimental for the environment. Nylon, acrylic, and polyester are made from nonrenewable petroleum whereas animal pelt is biodegradable. Fur had the worst environmental impact of nine fibres studied in a 2014 report by the European Commission, meaning that it is a juxtaposition between the ethics of animal cruelty with real fur and the ethics of the environmental impact regarding faux fur. However, the European Commission have never included fur in sustainability reports concerning acrylic and other fibres used to make the garments. The argument is, sustainability is profound as the issue is incredibly current and is just reasoning for many debates. It has been suggested that the fur industry use fish by-products and waste from the food industry to feed the farmed animals, despite this, it does not defer from the cruelty that these animals experience whether it is ‘environmentally-friendly’.

The debate between real fur and faux fur will be interminable and the ethics and reasoning on both sides will always contradict one another. Fashion designers such as Karl Lagerfeld have no intention of cutting out fur from their designs, demonstrating that fur will always be a statement of wealth and have a place in the industry therefore, so will faux fur. The trend may be ongoing but so will the fight for animal justice. Hopefully, more sustainable textiles are used to replace animal pelts and that people make the connection between animal brutality and an unjustifiable fashion statement.

What are your thoughts?

 

 

 

 

References:

Abnett, K. (2015) Inside the Growing Global Fur Industry. Business of fashion. Available at: https://www.businessoffashion.com/community/voices/discussions/does-fur-have-a-place-in-fashion/inside-the-growing-global-fur-industry. [Accessed 23 November 2017].

Bale, R. (2016) Fur Farms Still Unfashionably Cruel, Critics Say. National Geographic. Available at: https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/08/wildlife-china-fur-farming-welfare/. [Accessed 4 December 2017].

Bekhechi, M. (2017) London Fashion Week has recommended attendees avoid fur – but to protect the fur wearers, not the animals. The Independent. Available at: http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/london-fashion-week-fur-animal-rights-protestors-a7952046.html. [Accessed 4 December 2017].

Carlson, J. (2015) Op-Ed | Welcome Fur with High Standards. Business of fashion. Available at: https://www.businessoffashion.com/community/voices/discussions/does-fur-have-a-place-in-fashion/op-ed-welcome-fur-with-high-standards. [Accessed 5 November 2017}

Dyehouse, C. (2011) Glamour. 2nd edn. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

ICA.  (n.d.) FICA Facts. Available at: https://www.fur.org/fica-facts/. [Accessed 23 November].

Fur Commission USA. (n.d.) State, Federal and Industry Guidelines Help Ensure High Quality Animal Care. Fur commission USA. Available at: http://furcommission.com/oversight-2-4/. [Accessed 23 November 2017].

Hines, A. (2015) say no to faux: the ethics of fake fur. i-D Vice. Available at: https://i-d.vice.com/en_us/article/wj5z8y/say-no-to-faux-the-ethics-of-fake-fur. [Accessed 12 December 2017].

Mahe, Y. (2011) History of Fur in Fashion: Introduction. Available at: http://www.fashionintime.org/history-fur-fashion-introduction/. [Accessed 23 November 2017].

Milligan, L. (2014) Everybody’s Talking About Shrimps. Vogue. Available at: http://www.vogue.co.uk/gallery/shrimps-faux-fur-label-coat-and-jackets-hannah-weiland. [Accessed 23 November 2017].

Newkley-Burden, C. (2017) If you wear fake fur, you are dressing up as an animal killer. The Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/apr/12/fake-fur-real-fashion-boycott-animal-killer. [Accessed 5 November 2017].

Oaton, M. (2017) Drapers Debate: Is there a place for fur in fashion? Drapers. Available at: https://www.drapersonline.com/business-operations/drapers-debate-is-there-a-place-for-fur-in-fashion/7026865.article. [Accessed 23 November 2017].

PETA. (n.d.) What is PETA’s stance on faux fur? PETA. Available at: https://www.peta.org/about-peta/faq/what-is-petas-stance-on-faux-fur/. [Accessed 23 November 2017].

Rastogi, N. (2010) A hairy situation. Slate. Available at: http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/the_green_lantern/2010/01/a_hairy_situation.html. [Accessed 12 December 2017].

Sharkey, L. (2015) The legendary designer has a few things to say about fur and the business behind and questions those who criticise it. The Independent. Available at: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/fashion/news/a-butcher-shop-is-worse-karl-lagerfeld-fights-back-against-peta-and-defends-use-of-fur-in-fashion-10087884.html. [Accessed 12 December 2017].

Shrimps. (n.d.) About. Shrimps. Available at: https://shrimps.co.uk/about/. [Accessed 23 November 2017].

Skov, L. (2005) The return of the fur coat: A commodity chain perspective. Current Sociology. Vol 53, 9–32. SAGE. Available at: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0011392105048286. [Accessed 4 December]. 

Solomon, M & Rabolt, N. (2009) Ethics, social responsibility, and environmental issues. Consumer behaviour in fashion. New Jersey: Pearson Education.

Phillips, C J.C.  (2015) The animal trade. Oxfordshire: CABI.

Turnball, E. (2017) Should Vegans Wear Faux Fur? Plant based bride. 11 January. Available at: http://plantbasedbride.com/blog/should-vegans-wear-faux-fur.  [Accessed 5 November 2017].

Weiland, H. (2015) Op-Ed | Faux Fur, More Than a Fashion Trend. Business of fashion. Available at: https://www.businessoffashion.com/community/voices/discussions/does-fur-have-a-place-in-fashion/op-ed-faux-fur-more-than-a-fashion-trend. [Accessed 5 November 2017].

IN CONVERSATION WITH DB BERDAN AT FASHION SCOUT SS19

DB Berdan was founded in Istanbul and is for anyone that who enjoys bold statements, vivid colours and sarcastic humour. This quirky brand uses their prints to tell a story and explore their visions surrounding social rights movements. Inspiration taken from street and underground culture demonstrates influences from their London surroundings. These visions and ideologies are displayed through their use of slogan prints and illustrations that can be found throughout their collections.

We caught up with the brand backstage at Fashion Scout Spring Summer 19 to find out more about their collaboration with Reebok for this season, and the importance of LGBTQ+ movements in their work.

WHAT SPARKED THE COLLABORATION WITH REEBOK?

This is our first season with Reebok, our previous season was with Pepsi, Pepsi Turkey. This time we did a different collab with them so they’ve actually brought us pre-made clothes and we’ve reconstructed and deconstructed them so that pants are sleeves.

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WAS IT EASY WAS IT INCORPORATING THE POLITICAL STAND WITHIN THE COLLECTION?

Of course, because in Turkey as well we’ve had this LGBTQ stand going on there was a band on at Pride, LGBTQ Pride, we’ve made them move to the runway and to take a stand. So we just continued doing that and it was about a comment by Boris Johnson about Burka women being bank robbers, we can’t stand people who mimic what women are wearing.

With Annabel Waterhouse-Biggins

IN CONVERSATION WITH EBBA ANDERSSON OF SWEDISH SCHOOL OF TEXTILES

Designer Ebba Andersson presented her collection as part of the Swedish School of Textiles show. Utilising and experimenting with the relationship between garment and form, her collection juxtaposed evening wear with sportswear, using mesh and iridescent tulle to add experimental features. Vibrant colours ran throughout the collection on glossy materials with drawstring detailing.

We were intrigued by the diverse collection showed as part of the SST show and  spoke to Andersson following its completion to find out more about her experimental collection.

CONGRATULATIONS ON SHOWING YOUR COLLECTION IN LONDON, AS PART OF THE SWEDISH SCHOOL OF TEXTILES SHOW. WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE TEXTILE TO WORK WITH?

Usually I pick textiles that I don’t really like, or I feel that it’s kind of ugly. Or maybe I don’t know maybe it’s easier to work with things…

THINGS THAT ARE A BIT MORE CHALLENGING TO WORK WITH?

Yes because that’s the most fun so it’s really important to work with different qualities within the materials and different like that it should be matte against something against something really shiny or a thick material I love that. And I think that’s been like my main technique. I’m working with like crushing, evening dresses with like sportswear so.

I also usually pick colours that I don’t like, just like a mess in my collection, I think that when you pick things you don’t like you do things in another way and you can come up with things that you haven’t done before than if you picked something you liked.

Photography by Catherine Baker

A LOT OF THE THEMES REFER TO HOW THE FORM RELATES TO THE CLOTHING AND WHAT IT MEANS TO CREATE FORM. IS THAT THE KIND OF THING YOU LIKE TO EXPLORE?

I’ve actually been working with square pieces of fabric and I draw lines from evening dresses onto fabrics and then I’ve been like using drawstrings in these lines to make it fit the body, so my clothes fit every different body.

 

Interview by myself, adaptated by Katy Wolfe.

DESIGNERS PIONEERING SUSTAINABILITY AT FASHION SCOUT SS19

With society consuming fashion at an extreme rate leading to detrimental environmental and social impacts, it was refreshing to see such emphasis on sustainability this season. Compared to 2002, the average person now buys 60% more clothing and keeps them for half as long, with many embellishments and textiles being non-recyclable, it is encouraging to see up-and-coming and well-established designers paving the way for the future.

THIS SEASON AT FASHION SCOUT WE SAW DESIGNERS, NOUS ETUDIONS, THE SWEDISH SCHOOL OF TEXTILES AND JIRI KALFAR AMONGST OTHERS THAT ALTERED THEIR APPROACH, ADOPTING A SUSTAINABLE WAY OF DESIGNING TO COMBAT THEIR CONTRIBUTION TO POLLUTING THE ENVIRONMENT. THIS SEASON, VEGAN ARGENTINE BRAND NOUS ETUDIONS, WERE AWARDED OUR SS19 ‘ONES TO WATCH’ ACCOLADE. DESIGNER, ROMINA CARDILLO’S SS19 COLLECTION “CREATURES OF THE UNIVERSE”, WAS INSPIRED BY “NATURE, SHAPES AND TEXTURES”. OTHER DESIGNERS SUCH AS JIRI KALFAR OPTED FOR UP-CYCLED SEQUINS MADE FROM UNWANTED CLOTHES AND BIODEGRADABLE SHOES. THE DESIGNER STATED “THE FASHION WORLD IS CHANGING AND IF THE SMALL DESIGNERS DON’T SPEAK OUT, THEN THE BIG ONES WON’T FOLLOW. IT’S IMPORTANT – LEAD BY EXAMPLE.”

Just in the UK, the domestic market value of the fashion industry is £66 billion, with companies such as; Burberry, Marks and Spencer, Next and ASOS all making a huge contribution to this figure. Just in July of this year it was revealed that Burberry had been burning unsold stock worth up to $28.6 million. Alongside this hidden but common practice, issues such as excessive water-usage, poor working conditions, non-recyclable textiles and the use of animal products within clothing have all been bought to light over recent years.

 “THE FASHION INDUSTRY IS A DIRTY INDUSTRY AND I THINK IT’S IMPORTANT TO START GETTING THE WORD ACROSS BECAUSE THEN PEOPLE GET IT. I’VE SEEN ACTUALLY A LOT OF BIG BRANDS CHANGING THEIR POLICY ON SUSTAINABILITY AND I THINK IT’S BECAUSE THE FASHION WORLD IS CHANGING AND IF THE SMALL DESIGNERS DON’T SPEAK OUT, THEN THE BIG ONES WON’T FOLLOW. IT’S IMPORTANT. AT LEAST LEAD BY EXAMPLE.”

 JIRI KALFAR

The increase in fast fashion brands and the throw-away attitude that many people have adopted in this consumer-led society, has meant that extreme measures are being put in place to control this “incredibly wasteful and harmful to the environment” industry, as mentioned by Stella McCartney. The ethics-focused designer, Stella McCartney has consistently led the way for other designer brands to follow her sustainable attributes. She has been creating “sustainable luxury fashion” for nearly 20 years and her brand is part of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, Ethical Trading Initiative and regularly partners with PETA. Recently, McCartney collaborated again with Adidas to create her own vegan Stan Smith trainers, renewing such an iconic shoe and moving it forward, will be encouraging for other brands as the demand for more environmental and animal friendly fashion increases.

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Backstage at Nous Etudions for SS19, Photography by Rory James

 

Organisations such as the Copenhagen Fashion Summit and Drapers’ new Sustainable Fashion event are bringing together designers, businesses and consumers to create solutions to these overwhelming problems to ensure this profound industry moves forward correctly. As a consumer, you may want to think about investing in one better quality and ethically produced item as opposed to many fast-fashion pieces that you discard after wearing it just a handful of times. The app and website “Good on You” can help you discover which brands are more sustainable and find ones you had never heard of. Everyone is responsible, everyone can make a difference, and we’re pleased to provide a platform to elevate those that are paving way.

WHY I WANT TO INVEST MORE INTO MY WARDROBE

It feels like a lifetime ago that I was binge ordering clothes from ASOS and lavishly spending on an array of breton stripe t-shirts but now I’m a typical student with less money to spend like I used to.  I took a gap year and worked full time with the luxury of not having to pay for rent or food, just my monthly phone bill, car insurance and Spotify premium – a payment which this month sadly failed*sigh*. Yet it is now more than ever that I think about my previous spending habits – not that they are much better now, I simply cannot shop to the same extent. There are so many issues surrounding sustainability within the fashion industry, in particular, yet a huge proportion of consumers are on a budget and have very little choice other than to go straight to fast fashion retailers for their new clothes.

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I think saving and investing in long-wearing and timeless items with a couple of trend-led pieces in between is a healthy way to shop and dress. However, for many of us even if we were to save up just to purchase a pair of well-made, quality denim jeans – it’s more realistic to want to spend less on a pair from Topshop or H&M to be able to afford a night out with friends.

There is also the “I’ve worn this out too much” mentally which has probably struck many of us at some point. Where we feel as if we have to buy a new top for a friend’s birthday drinks or a new bag for an upcoming trip instead of re-wearing what we already have. I’m not suggesting a capsule wardrobe or anything but the idea is a good start. I believe that maybe if we had a little bit more of  disposable income to invest in these items and have the knowledge of where to shop, we would re-wear items over and over again with pride – and usually with a higher a price tag comes better durability and quality.

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Keeping on the subject of denim – a material that is generally one of the more durable fabrics (and one of the most profound investment pieces) but is not sustainable environmentally or socially. Whilst I would love to be able invest in sustainable, ethically produced and well made denim (as an example) there is normally a price tag attached as I mentioned previously. Brands such as Kuyichi, MUD jeans and Outland which set you back anything from £80-£150 are amazing if you can afford to invest. However, the reality is that despite our generation becoming more environmentally friendly and attentive to issues surrounding climate change and social injustices, it is easily overlooked in terms of the fashion industry and when choosing where to buy a new outfit from.

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Whilst I have primarily discussed denim, all items of clothing, shoes and accessories need to be taken into consideration when talking about cutting the “fast fashion £5 for a top” situation and take control by learning to choose timeless and sustainable pieces that can be rework into your wardrobe for years to come – and still being able to resell or give to charity in a reputable condition. Although sadly, to be ethically conscious in all aspects whether it be fashion or food, you need to educate yourself and research the alternatives. Small steps lead to big changes and I think if everyone (myself included) started shopping a bit more thoughtfully and stopped wasting so much money on several tops instead of purchasing a single, better quality one – we can push the industry and society in the right direction.

– HELPFUL LINKS –

  • Good On You –  a website and app that rates brands on their sustainability to help you shop and discover new brands & provide articles discussing various brands and fashion topics.
  • The Sustainable Edit – http://www.tartanbrunette.co.uk/
  • The Huffington Post – https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/news/sustainable-fashion/

Ellie