Monday, 7 February 2011

Vintage and fake fur - yay or nay?

I had a brief debate with my friend Alison recently, after she got rather annoyed (and slightly heckled) a girl in the street wearing a fur coat. On passing glance, I couldn't tell if the coat was fake or not but that, Alison stated, was not the point. Fake fur these days is so convincing as to be almost impossible to distinguish from the real thing (this theme popped up over on Did You Make That? recently as well) and thus possibly compounds the idea that wearing fur is somehow fashionable, attractive and, as Karen from the aforementioned blog put it, "something to aspire to."

Since talking about it with Alison, I seem to be reading about fur everywhere. Debi over on My happy sewing place recently posted about a lovely 1940s jacket she made for herself, out of fake fur. It is gorgeous and she looks stunning in it, but again the question pops into my head, if it looks just like the real thing, how is it any different to wearing the real thing?

I don't have a problem with fake fur (I have sewn with it in the past), I think that it isn't directly fueling demand for the unecessary rearing and slaughter of animals for their pelts and besides the environmental aspects of the non-renewable energy and resources used in its creation (which is a whole topic unto itself and not restricted to fake fur at all), it is no more inethical in my eyes than wearing a jacket made out of any other material. The main argument I've heard for not wearing fake fur is, as above, it can be difficult to tell apart from the real thing and therefore could be indirectly promoting the use of real fur.

My main problem with this argument is that I don't think it's the duty of the person who's wearing the coat to provide a role model for others. If you chose to wear a real fur coat because you don't have a problem with the ethics then I feel it's a free country and you have just as much right to do that as I do to wear leather shoes or denim jeans. If other people look at you and think, "wow, I love her coat, I want one" and go out and buy the real thing, that's their choice and ethics, not yours and you're not responsible for their choices. It's like if I was wearing a fairtrade, organic, cotton sundress and someone who saw me in the street liked it so much they bought a non-fairtrade, non-organic version for themselves, I wouldn't feel responsible that they hadn't made the same ethical choices as me when it came to choosing that dress.


Now, I feel as a disclaimer I should write here that I'm maybe a bit biased. I have a vintage fake fur coat that I inherited from my Great-Grandma and I love it (especially at the moment as with my tweed jacket out of action, it's the only non-vet jacket I own that's warm enough to handle the snow!). I feel I should also state that I don't have a massive problem with vintage fur in principle either, I feel that since the animal is already dead, it would be waste and a death in vain if that item of clothing were just sent to landfill. I don't think I would buy a real fur vintage coat, but if I were to inherit one, I certainly wouldn't have a problem wearing it.

Here's one way to save vintage fur from the landfill, fur pillows. From The Coat Check. Bet they would be snuggly and warm...


I can completely understand where people are coming from with the other side of the argument, both with fake and vintage real fur. There's an episode of River Cottage where Hugh shoots some rabbits, cooks and eats the meat and then makes clothing from the pelts. If all fur clothing were made this way, I wouldn't have a problem with that either, but I could definitely understand people who did.

Woah, you can totally see through my top! Ha!


It's a tricky subject and can be so emotive for some people, but I firmly believe in truth through debate. Thanks to Alison for getting me thinking! ♥


Lainey said...

Are the meat substitutes (e.g. aim to emulate the texture and taste of meat as bad as eating actual meat? If fake fur is unethical because it imitates real fur, an extension of that argument would be that eating 'fake meat' is also unethical.
Fashion cops it worse because what you wear is so visible, and can indirectly convey (perhaps inaccurately) statements about yourself.

SewHappyGeek @ excellcrafts said...

I agree with you, and I think that fake fur that's so good it looks like real fur might actually make people who like 'that look' more inclined to go for the cheaper-but-just-as-nice fake fur. Especially cuz it's also called faux, and a French word makes everything more attractive. Well, except Faux (Fox) News, but that's a different thing...

Debi said...

Great post! I like Lainey's comment as well (an interesting angle that I've never thought of). I would never sew with or wear real fur...I wonder if anyone went out and bought real fur after my jacket posting? I sort of doubt it but there were a few people that said they had faux fur in their fabric stash that said they wanted to sew that up. Buying real fur seems like it is really expensive and those that are going to do it have already thought about and planned it? is such an interesting debate! Thanks for posting!

Amy said...

Thanks for all your interesting comments, I love discussing these things, you've all made points I wouldn't have thought of myself!