Elena Adams weighs up the pros and cons to wearing animal products in a time where ethical and sustainable consumption is in the spotlight.
In the past, fur has been perceived as a symbol of wealth and status. However, in recent years many major fashion companies have banned it: Gucci in 2017, Versace in 2019 , and Oscar de la Renta this year- after Billie Eilish wore one of their dresses to the Met Gala on the condition that they would stop using animal fur in all of their designs. The use of animal fur was even banned by the British Fashion Council (BFC) from every show during London fashion week back in 2018. The movement against fur in fashion is not new, but that doesn’t mean it’s not still fashionable, with many opting to wear faux fur instead which gives the same feeling of luxury without the animal cruelty.
“The movement against fur in fashion is not new, but that doesn’t mean it’s not still fashionable…”
Fur jackets, scarves, or even hats have long been used not only to keep warm, but as a fashion statement. It’s a staple piece from classic Hollywood and nearly every actress from the early 1900s to the 60s wore it, and it is still as fashionable now. Today’s fashion scene offers loads of faux fur options that look and feel just like real fur, but there is also the option to buy second-hand. So which is the best option?
When thinking of the animal ethics of fur, faux fur would be the best way to go. You get the same fur coat, without an animal suffering. However, there’s not only the animal cruelty aspect to consider, but also the issue of sustainability and the environment. The processes to make both real and faux fur can be unsustainable and harmful to the environment. Production of real fur uses an intense amount of energy and toxic chemicals that can affect surrounding ecosystems, while faux fur is often made using different blends of plastics and polyester fibres that can be harmful to the environment. When made using sustainable materials, faux fur is the better choice.
“The processes to make both real and faux fur can be unsustainable and harmful to the environment.”
“But what about second-hand?” I hear you ask. Second-hand fur can be a good way to have luxury fur and avoid contributing to a toxic fast fashion cycle. However, it is still real fur, and therefore still involves the killing of an animal. So, it really depends on what you feel comfortable with and your beliefs. Maybe it’s better to make use of everything we already have? Would it not be less ethical and harmful to throw out a real-fur coat, only to replace it with a brand new fake one?
If fur is banned due to its animal cruelty, then why not leather too? Leather is an even bigger staple in fashion, and almost everyone you know will own some clothing that is leather:boots, belts, jackets, trainers … But why is leather not seen in the same light as fur? Some may argue it’s a by-product of the meat industry, but that’s not always necessarily true, and many animals are killed purely for their skin to produce leather. Similarly to fur there are faux options out there, but they are not always the greenest.
“But why is leather not seen in the same light as fur?”
Ultimately, it’s up to you. If you have been given, or already own a fur or leather clothing piece then it would be better to keep it than throw it away in favour of a fast-fashion-faux piece. When it comes to the choice between second-hand or faux it really depends on what you’re comfortable with, either way both choices are better than buying new, real fur. For me, faux is the way to go.