PHABRIK Magazine

Fur, What’s All the Fuzz?

By Mark St. James - Marquis of Fashion

March 2012

Fur: the facts, the controversy, the fashion! The use of fur in fashion has become such a point of contention that it leaves most designers coughing up fur balls. But when was the last time we took a step back from the anti-fur mob mentality, and took a look at the facts surrounding the topic?

In my previous article in Phabrik Magazine I focused on the growing movement in Eco-fashion and sustainability within the fashion industry. It may shock you to learn just how Eco-friendly the use of fur can be.
Having always been one to make up my own mind, I embarked on a mission to determine fact from fiction and propaganda from reality in order to shed some much needed light on this highly debated topic. After a tremendous amount of research, I have to say, I am pro-fur… no sense beating around the bush. Now, before you condemn me, hear me out.

For Your Consideration:
Have you ever stopped to consider the impact petroleum products have on the eco system?
It’s interesting, if not confounding that so many people are eager to jump on the fur trashing waggon, yelling on their megaphones, and holding up signs made of wood, plastic, and paper when in reality, forests where cut down for those signs and entire ecosystems where moved or destroyed for the oil necessary for the plastics and other synthetic materials that produced the marker that wrote the message.

How many animals were harmed so protesters can protest?Why not use synthetic fur in place of theanimals?As stated above the use of synthetics requires greater devastation then using the real thing. Fur only requires the use of an animals hide, the only environmentally harmful process in refining the fur for use in fashion is the dying process which is optional, and may be substituted with organic dyes.

Now before we move on, I want address the fundamental issue surrounding fur and the reason it is such a heated issue, the ethical treatment of animals. Obviously this a broad topic, so for the sake of this article, let’s keep it in the fur trade. There exists two important points here: 1) The quality of life of the animals living in a fur farm are regulated by laws set by governing bodies. These regulations ensure that the animals enjoy a life that is nearly as comfortable as that of a house pet. These laws are very specific and well enforced. 2) The misdirected protesting and lobbying against government regulated farms. This protesting has led to a number of fur farms closing up shop… a victory for the persecutors? Maybe in their minds; but sadly all that is being accomplished is a shift from controlled environments to the black market. This is where one has to take a stand, poaching and the black market sale of fur is abhorrent. The fact is, the demand for fur is and will always be present, in fact, it has been there all through history. With regulated farms, the treatments of the animals is assured, and without those farms, the black market flourishes.

Rather counter-productive to put so much time and energy into closing fur farms especially when considering the consequences. It’s not unlike throwing red paint on a fur coat during fashion week… fur is typically insured… the coat will be replaced; Counter-productive.

The More You Know:
Fur farms account for 63% of all fur usage in Canada, this number is approximately 1.6 million pelts per year. Of this number these animals are cared for by the best veterinarians, they are fed a balanced diet every day, and they are cared for and monitored with the use of the regulated and legally required healthcare and breeding records. Unfortunately the 65,000 people working in the fur trade in Canada alone are under constant attack from Eco-fundamentalists who make it their mission to pass on misinformation which results in the loss of jobs and potentially the traditional art of fur crafting. At this point it seems moot to discuss the use of leather in fashion and how in the midst of all the hype, few forums touch upon the fact that the majority of anti-fur advocates wear leather products and eat meat.

Fur Today:
So with all this fur who is wearing it? I know as a fashion columnist and blogger I love to wear a fur stole or fur trim on my collars, cuffs, and hoods but who else is wearing fur? Many high profile celebrities wear fur such as Madonna, Sienna Miller, Jennifer Lopez, Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, and the list goes on and on but are celebs the only ones wearing fur? Since fur is found on nearly every type of outerwear on the trim of a hood etc. the masses are investing in fur from popular accessible brands like Andrew Marc, Danier Leather, and Canada Goose, making fur very practical.

Although full fur coats are not as popular on the streets today, they are hitting the runways hard for Fall 2012. Nearly every collection used fur in some way and the shift in perspective is looking great. Noted fur advocate Karl Lagerfeld used fur in nearly every look at the Fendi Fall 2012 show. Other collection that invested in the trendy renewable resource were Marc Jacobs, Celine, Hermès, Yves Saint Laurent, Gucci, Zac Posen, and newcomer Altuzarra. With this much of the fluffy fuzz on the catwalk I can guarantee that it will be showing up more frequently on the streets; and if you can’t afford your own fur, simply dive into your grandmothers or grandfathers wardrobe and take out one of their old furs, or visit your local vintage shop. Remember, fur unlike other materials, is wonderfully resilient and can stand the test of time. You’ll often see fur being past down from generation to generation for over half a century or more. Once it has run its course, it is nice to know that it will degrade naturally and will not add to the tonnes and tonnes of cheap disposable synthetic fabrics that make up a significant percentage of our landfills. Finally, I have to pose the question, “What is more Eco-Friendly?” Fur? Or piles of non-biodegradable synthetic materials? Has the use of fur become so plagued with unnecessary guilt and misinformation that we would turn our backs on a proven, quality and sustainable material?

In the Interest of Sharing, Fun Facts:
– $800 million – The amount of money that goes directly into the Canadian economy from the
fur trade each year. –
– 65,000 – The amount of people working in the fur trade in Canada. –
– 63% – The amount of Canadian furs that come from fur farms. –
– 1.6 million – The number of pelts produced from fur farms in Canada. –
– 1 billion – The number of cows that a killed each year for their leather. –
– Hydrogen Chloride – The toxic gas released when creating synthetic textiles. –
– 9% – The percentage of man made textiles in landfills.
– 2020 – The year the world’s supply of oil and gas will fall below the level required to meet international demand.

Warm, fashionable, renewable, environmentally friendly, regulated…FUR.

Jameson House in Vancouver by Foster + Partners Homme Based
Jameson House in Vancouver by Foster + Partners
Homme Based


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