Real fur versus fake fur?

There’s a lot of fake news on fur and the fashion industry in general, but should it be time for us to know better? Harper Bazaar’s article “Should fur be illegal” covers one of the hot topics of the fashion industry: real fur versus fake fur, taking us through the pro’s and con’s throughout.

The debate over long-lasting fur versus cheaply-made plastic fur is nothing new, but this debate has been one-sided for a long time, because of false communication from activists. It is great to finally have real facts on the table.
Faran Krentcil, the journalist behind this recent article tells a story where she crossed paths with an activist during a protest. Faran had thank the activist for standing up for animal rights but added questioning: “Do you know your cheap sneakers were made by children chained to machines?”, which led to an upsetting fight.

Vegan material does not mean it’s ethical or eco-friendly

Veganism is trendy, and while the diet might be very good for the environment, taking the vegan trend for materials is not all that good. “The synthetic option can create toxic pollution that lasts long after the faux pelt is made – often with questionable labor practices”, Faran writes. Sustainable fashion expert Alden Wicker has said in the article, “I often hear well-meaning people conflate ‘vegan’ with terms like ‘ethical,’ ‘sustainable’ or ‘eco-friendly,’ as if they can all be used interchangeably.”

Alden Wicker also acknowledges the fur industry’s effort for circular economy saying that fur industry also produces social and even environmental benefits. “Industry giants like Finland’s Saga Furs say their practice fits that bill, claiming their animals are well-kept and their fur farms use every part of the animal.” This means that farm and animal waste are used in bioenergy production that fuels renewable energy system.

fur street style from new york fashion week

Fake news about fur industry

The misleading information we see about real fur includes headlines stating that the brands are leaving fur. Many brands and consumers think that deleting fur from fashion is part of social responsibility and automatically changes the product to be more ethical. Faran Krentcil writes that according to some biologists and bioethicists, these brands and consumers are completely wrong. Krentcil writes that “in some biologists and bioethicists view, fur is the fashion equivalent of farm-to-table beef; it’s more ethical, and safer for our ecosystem than a polyester or acrylic faux alternative.”

Faran also shows an excellent example of false communication in the media. When London Fashion Week had its first fur-free season in 2018, the anti-fur activist organization the Humane Society gave an official statement saying that fur cruelty is no longer welcome on the catwalk at London Fashion Week. The truth was that runways presented Spring 2019 collections, which is not necessarily the time for a warm fur coat, and fur was not banned. The Chief Executive of London Fashion Week later stated that “using fur is not illegal in the U.K. and it needs to come down to the choice of both the designer and ultimately the consumer.”

Legendary houses like Saint Laurent, Louis Vuitton, Fendi, and Valentino continue to use fur, as do rising designers like Saks Potts and Charlotte Simone, the article adds.

Councilman who introduced fur ban is moved by furriers’ testimonies

The economic impact of a fur ban is real. “This bill will deprive many hard-working people of the ability to make a better life for their families,” testified Leonard Kahn at the hearing according the article. Leonard Cohen also emphasized the craftmanship skills that working with fur requires. He stated that the labor force who works with fur is very trained and working specifically with only fur which is a very unique material.

Even Speaker Johnson has noticed this. As the councilman said to reporters in May, “Maybe I should have thought more about this before I introduced it because I didn’t realize the amount of pushback there would be… I was actually moved by some of the furriers and their testimony. While we are trying to be less cruel towards animals, we also want to do this in a more humane way to the workers as well.”

Fur garment on the streets of New York

Read the Harper’s Bazaar article here