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Fur as Fashion. Do or Don’t?

Copy: Serena Faber Nelson

Growing up in the 80s and 90s I remember being bombarded with a number of high profile media campaigns. From the ten pin bowling grim reaper, to the hooked on smoking ads, that era was known for ad companies using the ‘shock and awe’ method to get their messages across.

But I have to say it was the PETA campaign, ‘I’d Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur’ that had the most profound effect on me. And I wasn’t alone. The naked bodies of international supermodels proclaiming ethics over cruelty made the world sit up and take notice, and for over two decades fur became an ugly, whispered word in fashion.  Magazines wouldn’t dare put on a pelt in their pages unless it was accompanied by the tagline ‘Faux is Best’ and those daring enough to wear the real thing became a target for buckets of red paint.

People started to learn the facts of the fur trade. That it could take up to one hundred animals to make one fur coat. That most of these animals spent their lives in dirty, cramped cages before being electrocuted and often skinned alive. That fur wasn’t just taken from smaller rodent like animals – it could come from baby seals, wallabies, and even dogs. That up to 50 million animals a year suffered at the hands of this cruel trade.

But after we partied like it was 1999 and moved into the 21st century something changed. Maybe it was when one of the original PETA campaign models, Naomi Campbell strutted down the catwalk in a sable coat. I can’t pinpoint an exact time, but at some stage we stopped caring.

To say fur is currently making a comeback is an understatement. Young women excited by the decadent worlds of fashion and magazines are now exposed to fur-filled fashion shows by the likes of Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior and most recently Kayne West. (But really Kayne’s never been one to respect the sweet and innocent. Remember Taylor Swift?) Fashion trend setters including the likes of Kim Kardashian, Beyonce and Lara Bingle lead the world in ignoring the realities of fur production, proudly wearing, talking, and tweeting about fur without apology.

I often wonder if the teenage girls who look up to these women have any idea that their idols’ red carpet outfits were made using skin and fur ripped from a live animal’s body, and if they do, do they even care?  It scares me to think we’ve inspired a whole generation to place fashion ahead of cruelty. But I can hardly blame them. They watch Australia’s Next Top Model and see the girls dutifully wearing fur pieces for their glamorous photos shoots. “Oh but it’s vintage,” the producers cry. All I know is that for an impressionable young teen, they want to emulate the images they see on screen, no matter what the cost. Even wearers of the humble Australian Ugg Boot can’t escape the industry’s far-reaching clutches.

Fur, it seems, is no longer murder.

So where did we go wrong? Was faux fur just a fad? Did anyone ever really care? Or do I just not get it? Because for me I would much prefer to hold a warm puppy in my arms rather than wear it’s fur on my back.

I feel like we’ve failed and let these innocent animals down. I just hope in the future another generation can get it right.

What are your thoughts on fur as fashion?
Would you ever purchase a fashion garment made with fur?

Copy: Serena Faber Nelson

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Comments (10)

10 responses to “Fur as Fashion. Do or Don’t?”

  1. I like the look of fur in fashion, but for me, it must be faux. I’m even trying to get away from leather…I’m not there yet.

    • I agree Lori! I’m the same with leather. It’s a bit more ingrained in the making of so many products – especially shoes – which makes things a bit harder. It’s great to see designers like Stella McCartney who offer other options – hopefully it will become more widespread.

  2. I have fur coats that I inherited from my grandmother, but I keep them only for their link to her – I would never, ever wear them.

  3. I too have a fur coat inherited from my grandmother that I’ve never worn. I don’t know what I will do with it. I like the look of some of the fake fur vests though. You have a beautiful blog Serena, this is my first time commenting. Love your love of dogs!

  4. I think part of it is that PETA jumped the shark, as they say. As the organization has gotten more extreme, people are more willing to ignore their message, even the parts that haven’t changed.
    For example, PETA believes in the immediate euthanasia of stray animals because it is kinder to kill them than keep than in a kennel for even 3 days. Most people disagree with them about this, making it easier to ignore their valid campaign against fur.

    • Really great comment Shanendoah – I’m a big believer in animal welfare being about education promoting change, because really, extreme stunts often alienate the general population rather than helping them see an alternative point of view. To put it simply – You catch more bees with honey than vinegar!

  5. Lisa says:

    Great post Serena! I don’t own any fur and I don’t know why fur has become fashionable again. But I remember watching The September Issue (which I really enjoyed) but one line stuck out which was “Nobody was wearing fur until Anna put it on the cover in the ‘90s.” – that was a quote from Tom Florio about Anna Wintour of course. It just seemed like such a strange thing to be proud of, as if the reasons for not wearing fur were long forgotten.

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Pick of the Week

  • Pretty Fluffy Pick of the Week: Resident Dog: Volume 2

    Resident Dog: Volume 2

    If dogs and beautiful spaces are two of your favourite things, this stunning book belongs on your coffee table! Take a wander through 25 of the world's most amazing houses, and meet the dogs who live there.