Fur - fake or real?Monday, January 09, 2017
It's mid-winter and here in the Northern hemisphere fur coats are big business. It's too sweeping a statement to say most women own something fur, but the magazines would lead us to believe that's the case. Personally, I own a few fur pieces, both real and fake, but when you add fur trims on jackets, gloves, fur lined boots, scarves and pom-poms, then it amounts to a fair bit.
Outfit details - trousers: H&M, boots: Office, fur coat: vintage, rings: charity shopped.
A few years ago my husband and I were fortunate enough to go on holiday to Venice. It was early February and the temperature had dropped to minus 9 degrees making headline news as it was cold enough for the Grand Canal to start to freeze over which hadn't happened in almost 100 years. I'd packed a duvet coat and fleecy hat to keep me warm, but they didn't. European women wear real fur when it's cold. They have no qualms about that. Given the severity of the weather, I soon came to understand why. Nothing man-made can keep you warm in these kinds of temperatures, or at least not without making you look like the Michelin man from head to toe. The bitter, icy wind blew across the canals causing chills in every nook and cranny. One of our walks took us along a tiny canal where I came across a vintage boutique. In the window was this beautiful red fox fur coat. The jacket is second hand, an important point for me, and it wasn't long before I had succumbed to its charms. I wore it for the rest of the holiday, warm, toasty warm in fact, and feeling as glamorous as I ever have.
Fast forward to last autumn when I bought this fake fur jacket. Its ombre tones called to me when I was rooting about one of the charity shops in Truro.
As consumers I'm sure we all like to understand the impact our purchases have on the environment and it's for that reason that I'm a huge advocate of thrift/charity shopping wherever and whenever I can. Previously I might have admitted to feeling a bit uncomfortable about owning a real fox fur jacket, but strangely not in the least bit awkward about wearing suede boots or pony skin shoes or carrying an ostrich hide handbag, and I fancy I'm not the only one who suffers from this odd kind of logic. Fake fur obviously carried none of the guilt that real fur might. My viewpoint has recently been changed thanks to new information.
At the end of October I read an article in the Daily Mail by Zoe Brennan titled "The faux fur timebomb". She cites various facts, such as the ten barrels of oil it takes to make a fake fur coat, and that non-renewable plastics are used to make fake fur, and that when washed they in turn release an average of 1900 tiny particles of plastic that end up in our seas. This comes in the wake of the microbead scandal that hit the news in 2016 alerting us to the fact that our face washes and scrubs contained these ocean polluting beads of plastic. These microbeads are now being found in some sea creatures, one step away from entering the food chain. Ms Brennan's most revealing fact is that when you and I throw out our fake fur coats, they will end up alongside all other plastic waste in a landfill side and that it will take our coats 1000 years to biodegrade. Shocking isn't it? I had no idea, did you? Real fur on the other hand biodegrades naturally within 6 months. (I realise we're mixing ethics with environmental issues here and that's complex.)
The anti-fur lobby have omitted to tell us these facts. We may not want to buy mink as a result of what we've learnt about mink farms, but equally we surely don't want to have a massive carbon footprint thanks to this throw-away fashion. Another worrying fact is that the production of fake fur uses enormous amounts of energy and produces greenhouse gasses, ionising radiation and noxious chemical by-products, many of which cause cancer. Buy fur responsibly maybe ought to be the message here.
I write this for the same reason I write everything in my blog: to share my story. This is not a call to arms, a request to boycott or indeed an article intended to make us all feel bad. Remember, I'm in no position to judge. I'm sorry that this doesn't make for comfortable reading. But turning a blind eye to anything that challenges our comfort zone isn't protecting the future of our planet. Fun fur will not be much fun for our descendants to deal with. I now wear both my real and fake fur with a genuine awareness of their implications. I said my viewpoint has changed, and here's how - I now prefer the honesty of wearing my real fox fur coat. If someone wants to knock me for that, then fine. And much as I will continue to wear my fake fur, I'm no longer deluded that it's the better thing to do.
I'll finish with a quote from Orsola de Castro, of Fashion Revolution, a campaign for ethics in the fashion industry. She states "The use of real fur (in fashion) is, of course, deplorable, but faux fur is not the answer. It comes with an incredibly heavy carbon footprint, it doesn't biodegrade and the cheap examples are often produced in unregulated factories, with all the concerns that brings over sweatshop conditions, poor pay and child labour." She urges us to "Look for alternative textures, such as luxurious knits. Most people simply don't realise how bad faux fur is. They think of it as a "good" moral alternative to real fur, without realising the damage it is doing."
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Jess of Elegantly Dressed And Stylish
Patti of Not Dead Yet Style
Cherie of Style Nudge