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2nd December 2014

Are you fur real?

With faux fur being a star trend this winter, Kathryn Murray asks why people still insist on buying the real thing

Fur has always been a  talking point in the fashion industry. Not only is it expensive, but many view the slaughter of animals for coats and accessories as cruel and unnecessary. As such a major ethical issue, many people are extremely vocal in denouncing its use, with some  even resorting to violence. Despite this, in a recent UK poll, only 58% of 18–24 year-olds said that they believed it was wrong to use fur compared to 77% of over-55s. This is in stark contrast to three years ago, when 95% of people claimed that they would refuse to wear it. With this increase in acceptance, is the fur industry clawing its way back?

It’s nearly two decades since a crop of supermodels including Kate Moss and Cindy Crawford posed naked in the iconic PETA anti-fur adverts under the slogan “We’d rather go naked than wear fur”. Clearly, celebrities and the media have the power to influence the public. As a result, it is through recent celebrity endorsements that the public are slowly going fur crazy. Public figures such as Kanye West, Rihanna, Beyonce and the Olsen twins have been seen wrapped up in fur making the item desirable. So is it ok to wear fur now? Has the taboo been lifted? Are people no longer outraged by the murder of animals for the sake of fashion?

Over 400 catwalk labels including Tom Ford and Christopher Kane currently use fur in their collections and the global fur market has almost doubled from £5.7 billion to £9.4 billion since the millennium. With demand for real fur on the increase and vintage fur being a coveted collectable, there is no doubt that it is well and truly coming back into fashion.

I should make it clear that I am against the use of fur for clothing. The main issues I have with the fur industry are the inhumane treatment of animals and the use of endangered species. I do not think it is moral or even necessary. However after a little research, I regrettably see where fur advocates are coming from. Humans already kill animals such as rabbits for food…should we waste the fur if people are willing to pay for it? The fur industry also offers thousands of jobs and it has recently been revealed that fur is cheaper to source than the synthetic alternative.

There is an argument  for fur’s environmentally friendly qualities. Fake fur is made from non-renewable petroleum-based products, like nylon, acrylic and polyester, which are then treated with heat and chemicals to improve its look and feel. According to the International Fur Trade Federation, these industrial processes use three times as much non-renewable energy as real fur.

Taking all of this into consideration, I am still firmly against the use of real fur. To be honest, the thought of wearing an animal’s protective layer makes my skin crawl. I find it unnecessary when a more ethical alternative is available to us. There is an abundance of fake fur in every high street shop; earmuffs, mittens, coats, clutch bags, everything you could possibly dream of. Not only is it cheaper, more practical, and more ethical but it looks pretty good too! And no animals were harmed for a trend that will be replaced next year.

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