The debate around fur seems to be endless. We are on the side of fur supporters who believe that fur is sustainable. Today, in an era where plastic waste is rife, the fur industry is becoming more regulated and integrated with animal welfare, namely because of the FurMark certifications. But in all this endless debate surrounding ethics and sustainability, we are losing sight of one thing: aesthetics.
But let’s face it. Fur is fashionable – it looks and feels good too. Fur has always been a symbol of luxury and a signifier of class. Back in the day, fur was so regulated that only the Russian Tsars, Dukes, Royals and their families were allowed to wear sable. During that period, fur was sourced from the wild, but at the end of the Dark Ages, fur farms appeared all over Europe and the natural material became democratised. Nonetheless, while fur is today worn by everyone, it still holds that aristocratic feeling. Besides the pragmatic and thermal qualities of fur, it gives a value to your outfit that no other piece of clothing or accessory can achieve. You can have a nice expensive pair of shoes or bag, but, it’s fur that you can spot from a distance. It is the most visible item from your wardrobe.
It’s obvious that fur is in fashion – even if we are talking about natural fur, or its oil and plastic-based alternative, the so called “faux” fur, fur has been a fashion staple for hundreds of years. In the case of the latter, we have a problem with the terminology. Fake fur is usually referred as “faux”, a word that is, in my opinion, pompous and confusing. Let’s face it, it’s a synthetic and fake item. It is a man-made fabric that wants to look like something that it’s not. Maybe if it was referred to as “plastic fur”, it wouldn’t be so appealing (quite the opposite in fact). There are many brands that went fur free in the past few years, not in the virtue of a personal ethic principle, but because of the pressures that came from outside, from the big anti-fur NGOs. But let’s think about something – what is a fur coat? It’s an element of clothing and fashion. However, in this case, the principles and opinions of a small, but vocal and well financed, group have distorted the fashion industry’s perspective. The result? Good people being perceived as cruel just because they chose to wear a natural and sustainable material. And a large range of garments made out of plastic – a pollutant that looks and feels cheap – saturates the market. You only need to pat a fake fur, and you will agree with me. Or you can wear it, and you will see that you feel cold. Not to mention the look, because the difference between natural and fake is a striking one. Especially after the plastic fibres start to wear off, leaving a coat with dull patches.
All of those interferences of the activists in fashion have consequences on the consumer. I have a local fur shop in Bucharest, and we had clients come into our shop with expensive puffers or ski jackets that had a stripe of fake fur attached to them. They wanted them removed and replaced with natural fur. They were annoyed at the fact that they had to make changes to their garments after they paid a fortune on it, just because some fashion houses surrender in the front of the activists and chose to go fur-free. All I am saying is this: they surrendered, but it has nothing to do with their ethic principle. Activists want designers to join the fur-free alliance, for now. They believe the rest will follow.
But, back to the aesthetics. If you’re looking at high-end fake fur jackets, you will see that they of course have a synthetic cheap look. But not only that, they are also priced the same as a high-quality natural fur jackets coming from a local brand. My experience is that a customer with a well-known designer garment, which used fake fur, if we call it this and not the pompous name: faux, didn’t like it. But many people only shop for the label, unfortunately.
Designers and their creativity shouldn’t be restricted by other’s points of view, and furthermore, they should offer their clients the freedom to choose whatever they want to wear. I already feel the Leather Free Alliance coming soon, and I don’t want to see myself in a plastic world, surrounded by fake substitutes of natural products.
Wrriten by Bianca Margarit