A constant controversial topic… Fur. For so many years the likes of PETA and Lynx have fought for animal rights against corporate CEO’s of Fur farming. With both sides of the story giving, what they believe to be the right answer, I pose the more interesting question… Can the fashion industry survive without fur or does the economy need it?
Much to my amazement, fur contributes a whopping $40 billion (£24 billion) to the fashion industry every year and employs over 1 million people, through factory workers, retail and economy. Mark Oaten IFF (International Fur Federation CEO) expresses “It’s easy to get caught up in emotions that the businesses can generate, but the truth is fur trade is an economic cornerstone in Europe and beyond.” Much of the fashion industry and increasingly the soft furnishings world appear to rely on fur. Fur is used and distributed globally and for such a vast amount of things, so can we really just get rid of it being used?
PETA points out that slave trade and child labour are fur farmers way of justifying abuses by arguing it provides them with jobs and money, but does it make it fair? Would you work in a factory that is unstable because funding cuts were taken to keep your pay at a minimum of £5 a week?
On to the animals, I mean no one really sits and thinks about them, do they? Foxes, Mink, Raccoons and Rabbits. In fur farms, they are electrocuted anally or vaginally, for some they are skinned alive. Kept in cramped cages, where some animals are force fed to get 5 times their normal weight, just to get more fur from them, for others they are driven insane by confinement. You wouldn’t do this to your pet dog/cat/guinea pig, would you?
Let’s look at our alternatives, shall we? The main alternative would be of course faux fur. Better than using real fur, due to fabrics being replicated so aesthetically you wouldn’t even know the difference, as well as versatility to dye different colours. Or so we would have thought… Faux fur as a synthetic fabric, in fact, has many environmental impacts, for example, it takes many more years to decompose, meaning landfill sites create more toxic pollution.
But, if you want to talk pollution, well, fur farming causes a huge amount of pollution, contaminating streams and rivers due to animal waste creating a horrid 1,000 tons of phosphorus. Not to mention the fur coats are treated with toxic chemicals to prevent them from rotting.
Pamela Paquin, the founder of Petite Mort Fur, uses a more ‘ethical’ alternative to fur farming by cashing in on roadkill. When the animals are deceased naturally from an accident, Pamela collects the animals to turn into ethical fur. She explains “It was a wasted resource and I decided after some deep thought that I could make a viable business out of this.” She hopes the business can one day completely mitigate the need to have animals in cages.
Now let’s see, in answer to our question, can the fashion industry really survive without fur? The contradiction between the economic need for the furs income against the treatment of the animals and harm it produces to the environment, only really leaves me to say… It’s up to you whether you choose economy or environment?
Words By Emily Bone