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Op-Ed: The Truth About Real and Faux Fur

by Madison Duddy and Meolny Forcier

Photography courtesy of Ece Yavuz

For more than two decades the controversy over fur in fashion has resulted in various protest demonstrations. Groups like the People For the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the International Anti-Fur Coalition and the Citizens to End Animal Suffering and Exploitation are trying to end animal suffering caused by the fur industry, animal testing and the food industry. Protests have taken place at fashion shows and speeches by Roberto Cavalli, Michael Kors, Gucci and Victoria’s Secret.

PETA, the largest animal rights organization in the world, participates in education, cruelty investigations, animal rescue, legislation, research and protest campaigns. What most PETA activists protest is “fast fur fashion,” which is fur that has been cruelly harvested where trappers, not abiding by regulations, try to obtain fur in the cheapest ways possible.

Hannah Kinder, a College Outreach Coordinator at PETA, said PETA employs many tactics to stop fur fashion, including “private meetings at fashion houses, protests, interruptions and direct education to consumers.”

During Marc Jacobs Fashion Week show this February, PETA activists surrounded the venue to protest Jacobs’ use of fur in his fashion line, shouting “Marc Jacobs, shame on you” and “Wear your own skin.”

Also, videos and images displaying horrific fur farms have surfaced over social media. Leading multiple designers, including Jimmy Choo, Gucci, Michael Kors, Calvin Klein and Armani, to rethink their fashion lines and go fur-free.

This past year, Gucci announced that they wanted to adopt faux fur in order to be more responsible for their actions involving animals and the environment. In their statement, Gucci claims they “will no longer use, promote or publicize animal fur” and for entering a “long term partnership with LAV [an Italian animal rights organization] and The Humane Society… [they are] join[ing] the Fur Free Alliance, which focuses on the deprivation and cruelty suffered by fur bearing animals both in wild trapping and industrial fur farming.”

Kinder is confident PETA will stop all fur use in fashion.

“We have seen designer after designer dropping fur,” Kinder said. “This is sending a very clear message—fur is dead. There is nothing chic about wearing the dead body of another, and the fashion world is finally recognizing that.”

However, some fur supporters in the fashion industry are designers such as Fendi, Canada Goose, Rachel Comey, Dior and Louis Vuitton, who have continued using real fur in their designs. With technological advances enabling faux fur to look and feel natural, many question why some designers still choose to use real fur.

Real fur has multiple qualities that make it the warmest material during the freezing winter months. Primarily, fur has a natural thick undercoat that provides an extra layer of warmth. Also, it is waterproof and designed to keep snow on its outer layer instead of melting against the wearer’s body heat, making them wet and cold. Moreover, snow cannot freeze on real fur so the wearer will not be cold in extreme temperatures and precipitation.

Boston University student Summer Willerth (CGS ’19) said, “It [faux fur] is more of a fashion thing. If you are going to buy something to stay warm, you might as well get real fur.”

The natural, warm properties of real fur have been recognized by multiple designers including Canada Goose and Rachel Comey, and they strive to source their fur more ethically.

Canada Goose has implemented two traceability programs. Audited by the Down and Feather Industries, they promise that all of the down they use is traceable, comes as a by-product of the poultry industry, and is never plucked from live or force-fed birds. Canada Goose also ensures that their sourcing abides by the Agreement of International Humane Trapping Standards (AIHTS) in Canada and the Best Managed Practices (BMP) in the United States. Under these policies, all fur is traceable, never bought from fur farms, never the fur of an endangered species, and only acquired by licensed trappers in North America that are strictly regulated.

At the end of the day, it is of course the wearer’s choice where they want to spend their money and for what kind of products. It is important to take into consideration the process that one’s clothes have gone through.

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