It’s a good question and one I've grappled with since stumbling across this fur coat last week in a vintage shop. I didn't buy it BTW. But I was certainly taken by it's natural beauty and it got me thinking about this topic.
Without a doubt to buy or not to buy vintage fur is a polarising subject. I've used various methods in an attempt to gather a diverse representation of the topic and the answer comes down to how everyone feels about it personally. I definitely don’t think there is any clear cut answer. Let's take a look at some of the collective responses which I hope will help you make a conscious fashion choice in the future.
Hands up if you've bought a faux fur item thinking it was a better alternative to real fur? I hate to break it to you, but it’s not as good as you think. yes it maybe an animal cruelty-free product. and the notion of keeping it forever will depend on many things.
How sustainable your faux fur purchase will be is influenced by; the overall quality of the piece and how often and how long you will wear it.
An Analysis of the faux fur life cycle by Design Life Cycle has shown that even though it is thought to be a friendly alternative to real furs, the raw materials used in the life cycle of faux fur, like synthetic fibers and synthetic dyes are extremely damaging to humans and the environment.
As well in order to produce such a garment, a lot more energy is used than buying a pre-loved one.
Sara Idacavage from Fashionista also reminds us that the faux fur business (like most of fashion) often relies on harmful chemicals and cheap labor to produce millions of garments at affordable prices.
Sammy Davis the founder of Sammy Davis Vintage states,
"It’s about how can we change the new fur industry in such a way that they are producing less or turning to second-hand fur to recycle into new looks? If that can become part of the public consciousness, then we can alleviate the problem, because people as a whole are never going to stop liking fur."
Ok got that, but what do you do when you inherit a piece of fur from a family member? The fur collar in the image below was given to me by my dear late mother in law. I don't wear it very often but I could never imagine parting with it either as it has great sentimental value to me.
I also understand the position of the anti-fur advocates that is; buying vintage fur can perpetuate the trend as a whole. Therefore it’s a risk when you walk around in it, because people can’t tell whether it is real or not.
PETA'S response to vintage fur is "Whether the animals were killed yesterday or 50 years ago, vintage fur sends the same unacceptable message as new fur—that it is OK to allow animals to languish in steel-jaw traps, have their necks snapped, or be skinned alive simply for the sake of vanity."
What do you think? Is choosing vintage a more ethical way to wear fur? and what do you do when you are totally torn on the issue?
Is it the case that we are always going to come across fur, whether it’s in our grandmother’s closet, a vintage shop, at H&M or in kmart's homewares section? And If there was a global sanction on all fur and faux fur products like coats, hats and homewares, how would you feel ? Some would argue that this is an example of censorship.
If you asked my Ukrainian Grandmother she would say "wear fur it’s the warmest.” she is right. Ask most Canadians, Russians or Scandinavians and they will surely agree. Hence in very cold climates people choose to wear fur for protection rather than for a fashion statement.
Alice in furs, fur fashionista raises another interesting point that people don’t complain about cows being killed “for fashion” because they are made into lovely shoes or that sheep are being raised on farms “for fashion”.
The sustainability advocates argue that we can't change the past but we can do the right thing moving forward by doing; our bit to preserve old fur items and look for ways to repurpose them rather than discarding them.
One way to do this is through Peta’s Donate Your Fur program where old furs are used in their Fur Kitchens to help injured animals at their rescue shelters and are donated to the homeless and refugees around the world who can't afford coats.
It's really hard to draw a line in sand with this issue. I would love to hear your thoughts on the topic in the comments section below. All I ask is that you don't attack anyone else for having a different opinion to yours.
A few conclusions I have drawn from exploring this topic are; i won't be buying faux fur in a willy-nilly way in the future nor any new fur products.
The important thing is you should feel at ease with any informed fashion choice you make including buying a vintage or a quality faux fur item.
For more sustainable styling tips download my free checklist How to be a sustainable fashionista . I also want to gift you 25% off my styling services (which can also be done via video conference) when you download the checklist or join my quarterly newsletters .
Lastly lovelies please share your sustainable fashion journey with me by mentioning @sustainablestyling and tagging #sustainablestyling on Facebook, Instagram and twitter.
What I'm Wearing
Image: 1&2: 1950's Vintage fur coat from Vienna available @commercialroadantiques
Pink beret 100% wool from France available in a range of fab colours from @ethnicaeclectica
Boots 10 years old made in London.
Image 5: Mustard dress made by dressmaker, louis vuitton tote , boots 10 years old made in London, fur collar given to me by my Mother In Law.
Acknowledgement of Images
Image 3: Faux Real -Alexandra Lapp wearing a fake fur jacket from Jake in Paris, Sept. 2017. Photo: Christian Vierig/Getty Images.
Gallery Images 6-10: Sourced on Pinterest
Image 11: Photo of RacCoon sourced from PICFAIR