Controversial Issue of Fur in Fashion
Fur - as a symbol of luxury and financial prosperity, conquered the hearts of Mademoiselles and their wardrobes ages ago. But everything has an expiry date, even the furry perception of affluence. It seems that a long history of fur within fashion history has to adapt to the new “green” reality. “Today we don’t want a product, we want ethics, a firm that defends the values that we admire”, said famous fashion designer John Galiano referring to the Maison Martin Margiela fashion house. And intentionally or not defining the essence of the whole issue.
text by JULIJA BLAZAUSKAITE
illustration by AUSTE PARULYTE
Indeed, it’s a complex and rather emotional issue. Fur coats have been often passed down through generations of family members, creating a deep emotional connection. However, emotions also arise pretty high when watching various videos depicting cruelty behind our furry clothing. As a result, different high-profile brands and fashion grands, such as Maison Margiela, Gucci, Versace, and Burberry, have made their decisions to exit the category of fur. And the number of free-fur brands is further increasing. Therefore, although the proponents and activists of PETA can now sleep a little bit easier, let us dig into the furry fashion issue a little bit deeper.
The majority of fashion brands in their external communication and strategies highlight their choice of becoming an animal-friendly business. And it is easy to notice that the rationale behind this choice does not rely exclusively on a green, humanistic will. Fashion brands are big businesses, which generate millions and millions of turnover each year and, of course, seek increasing it further (market logic). So, to what do they react the most? The answer is sales. According to some evident statistics from the Fur Commission USA, sales in fur have started to decrease since 2013 in the USA. Furthermore, the United States is among the top countries in the world where sales are the highest. Surprise, surprise, huh.
Of course, probably the main reason for the decrease in sales derives from us, society, which year over a year becomes more conscious about the world and how things work. We are gradually becoming more threatened by the fact that the number of pages in the Red List of Threatened Species is increasing over the years, and we need to do something to save living creatures on Earth.
Moreover, a big part of Millennials can't understand anymore why fur assigned to the list of luxurious items. How can at all a dead animal symbolize something luxurious? Thus, some even refuse to wear faux fur, saying that we are still humiliating animals in this way. And as fashion houses look towards the future, they understand that today's Millennials will be the ones who will consume their products. Therefore, it's not that surprising that various clothing brands have started to adjust their images accordingly.
So, as fur goes out of production, what can be used instead of it? Well, quite obvious suggestion is faux fur, which by the way, introduced in 1929. However, the popularity of faux fur started to grow only in the 1950s when various organizations protecting animal rights began questioning the ethics of animal fur usage. As for today, technologies have developed so much that the production of fake fur is way cheaper and more ecological than the one of real fur.