Animal Fur has been a common clothing choice for thousands of years. Early humans would use it to keep warm, as such it served a very practical purpose in the days before electricity. It then became a status symbol, rich people throughout the world had furs as a staple in their wardrobes and during the Golden Age of Hollywood fur was a symbol of glamour and sophistication. However, today it has become a source of controversy as ethical and environmental questions have been raised and the fur industry hasn’t provided suitable answers.
Leather has similarly had a level of concern about its ethical implications, largely due to the rising popularity of veganism. Although leather is still largely socially acceptable there are still some doubts regarding its ethical implications.
Due to these misgivings regarding the wear of animal fur and skin, many fashion brands and labels have offered synthetic options that appeal to people. Synthetic options are usually cheaper and are often more common for this reason. However, the environmental costs of wearing faux fur are substantial, due to the fact that faux fur is made from non-renewable materials whereas real fur is biodegradable. It becomes a question of what you think is morally worse, animal cruelty or environmental degradation.
Another question that we should be asking is, are these two conflicting approaches actually aiding each other’s continual success? Does the presence of faux fur keep the fur aesthetic fashionable? Do the negative environmental impacts of faux fur make people choose real fur anyway, even if it means endorsing animal cruelty? And does the animal cruelty involved in the production of real fur make people choose faux fur even if it means turning a blind eye to its environmental impacts?
Firstly, let’s examine if the presence of faux fur keeps real fur fashionable and desirable. While designers such as Stella McCartney have very strong anti-fur stances, other designers such as Louis Vuitton, Dior, and Yves Saint Laurent have chosen to remain pro fur. It can be argued that having faux fur as an option legitimizes luxury brands to remain in the real fur camp as it demonstrates that the look of fur is still incredibly stylish.
However, just as there is vegan mince helping people make the switch as it means you don’t have to change your present diet too much, similar arguments have been made concerning faux fur. Although we should applaud people’s efforts to make thoughtful purchases that fit in with their personal style, if those efforts result in fixing one problem at the expense of another, perhaps it isn’t something we should be applauding.
Arguably, there are a substantial amount of pros and cons regarding this issue and people will largely have differing opinions. This post is not meant to convince you that one way is the right way, it is only meant to draw attention to this debate so that more people can be a part of the conversation, making their varied opinions known. There is however one question that I would like to finish with: if it means choosing the best of two evils, isn’t it best to just say goodbye to the fur aesthetic for good?
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