May 29, 2011

My relationship with fur


This article contains graphic content and PETA campaigns that some people may find upsetting. Please don’t read this if you think you might be offended. 

My first introduction to fur was through the eyes of Walt Disney. As a child I would watch 101 Dalmatians back to back and the message was drilled into my head before I was even five years old. I remember hearing about fur coats as a child and being truly heartbroken, I’d picture leopards and tigers suffering all because a cold, heartless women wanted a new fashion statement. Being in the UK however I never came across real fur. That was until my parents took me to Florida when I was 10. I ran into the shopping mall and immediately found my way to the handbags (yes, I really was obsessed with fashion at that age). I slung a furry pink bag over my shoulder and preceded to pose in front of a mirror. I ran straight to my mum telling her how soft it was and that I wanted to buy it (I had a great sense of fashion, but no perception of money) My mother who has always been against animal cruelty delicately told me that the bag I was clutching with delight was in fact real fur. I ended up crying my eyes out and telling my parents that I wanted to speak to the manager of the store. It was mink actually, I don’t think I even knew what a mink looked like at that age but I drenched my hands in sanitizer and glared at every member of staff.

It came as a real shock that people still wear real fur and when fur coats became a must have in 2005 I saw more and more dead animals hanging on peoples backs. About three years ago my mum brought home an ebony faux fur coat. It never got much wear but the idea of fur coats grew on me. A few years down the lane I now own over ten faux fur coats. They were all cheap and cheerful vintage apart from one Topshop dusky cream goddess that set me back £100. People still make comments on how I always wear fur, one friend even told me it was iconic for me to be seen in a fur coat with a Chanel 2.55. It was wonderful to hear seeing as I look forward to winter every year just so I can cuddle up in fur. Vintage fur coats also set me up with my business; I’ve actually sold over 20 fur coats through Fifi Amour Boutique now and I’ve got another 8 to be sold later this year. 

Many situations have left me feeling uncertain about fur; fake and real. I remember walking through town in a shaggy white “arctic fox replica” fur coat and being confronted by a women who very loudly shouted at me “why don’t you just go kill another polar bear you heartless bitch”. Needless to say I was in shock. She had made no attempt at keeping her issues private as several passers buy were now stood watching, one person actually came out of the shop to get a better look. I politely told her that I appreciated her anti-fur demonstration but the coat in question was in fact faux. I expected her to apologise or at least attempt to diminish the awkward atmosphere, but she didn’t. Instead she looked at me with complete disgust before wandering off in the opposite direction. For a long time after I could never understand why she looked at me with such offence, this was until my sister pointed something out.  My sister Zoe is a vegetarian, animal rights protester and a strongly opinionated 16 year old. She explained to me that sporting faux fur was still promoting the industry and that many people think even replicating an animal should be discouraged. It was a debate that continued through the Roberts household for a good few days. Her argument was that wearing fake fur sends out the wrong message and prolongs the trend. There is so much fur around now that People can get away with real fur and not be harassed by society for animal cruelty. Seeing as most people can’t tell the difference between fake or real it’s given people a free ticket to wear real fur in public, whenever and wherever. Apparently it’s this “normalisation” of the fur industry that is causing concern for animal rights activists. 

Now a day’s faux fur can look even more glamorous then real fur, PLUS you get the bonus of not having to wander around with decaying skin which attracts maggots and insects. Certain designers such as Karl Lagerfeld, Giorgio Armani, Stella McCartney, Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein do not use real fur in any of their collections.  Lagerfeld told November's Harper's Bazaar: "The material [faux fur] is beautiful and new in a way, because it was not that perfect before. It looked OK, but it felt stiff and harsh. Now the technology has advanced so much that you can hardly tell fake fur from the real thing."Celebrities and models have also spoken publicly about anger and disgust at the use of real fur in fashion. Twiggy slammed designers at London fashion week for using real fur and branded the industry as “intolerably cruel”. 

So whose hands are covered in blood on the runway? Designers such as Matthew Williamson, Peter Pilotto, Julien Macdonald, Jean-Paul Gaultier, John Galliano, Alexander McQueen and the notorious “bloody Burberry” all regularly use real fur.

It still shocks me that people think its okay to kill animals for fashion. In Canada, over 2 million animals are killed for their fur. Almost 1 million are caught and killed in painful steel traps, often breaking teeth and bones trying to escape. The other 1 million animals are raised unnaturally on fur farms, in isolated wire cages only to be gassed or anally electrocuted. SOME animals even wake up whilst their skin is being torn off their bodies. Even dogs and cats are often killed slowly and inhumanly for their fur in China and then mislabelled so that it can be exported to other countries – yes the UK and the USA that includes you. Of course this doesn’t only affect our furry friends, exotic skin is used throughout fashion; be it snakes, lizards, crocodiles and alligators.

Right now PETA is trying to persuade the British ministry of defence (I am so incredibly ashamed) to stop using bear pelts to make headpieces for the five guards regiments. I’d strongly encourage anyone to look at this link and show support - http://www.unbearablecruelty.com/campaign.asp
 
I honestly would rather go naked than wear real fur. My relationship with fur though will always be one of guilt, pleasure and controversy. Fur is something I have to wear, something I adore but the industry in itself is cut in half; faux fur and real fur. Even if somebody handed me a real fur Versace bolero I would throw it away, there is NO need to use real fur in today’s society and I wouldn’t be seen dead in an animal.

In my opinion, wearing real fur is one of the worst fashion faux pas you can make. It upsets me that I’m in an industry which causes such pain and distress; I love fashion but it’s never worth it. 


Over 150 protesters went naked for the anti-fur campaign in Barcelona on 27th of January 2008. The protesters curled up naked on the steps of the Saint Eulalia Cathedral in front of worshipers arriving for noon mass. The message was to bring awareness of how many animals are killed in the process of making fur garments. On average a coat is made up of not one, but THIRTY slaughtered animals.


For more information or to show your support click here - http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-clothing/animals-used-for-fur.aspx

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