*Post title stolen from Blur album of same name equally stolen from stencilled graffiti painted along Bayswater Road in London, created by an anarchist group¹.
Why is it that society never seems to learn? Just when you think an ethical argument is won, it rebounds and smacks you round the chops. Be it Fascist politics (argument won circa 1945) currently on the resurgence in Italy, via populist movements throughout Europe and arguable the USA (see here) or the use of animal fur in fashion.
I hate to use examples from the right-wing press or even link to their webpages but seeing is believing and the Sarah Vine article linked to in the photo above is truly unbelievable. You have to read it for yourself and see the celebrities in their furry animal skins. It is an intentionally provocative piece but what is most shocking is that the author is the spouse of Michael Gove, the controversialist government Environment Secretary.
I thought this was an argument won many, many years ago. In fact about 20 years ago, few designers would dare to use it. The National Geographic² magazine claims that fur is back in fashion as:
Animal skins are being embraced by designers amid a push to make the lives and deaths of captive creatures more humane.
This cinema-infomercial was originally commissioned by Greenpeace and I remember it’s striking visual message well from the 1980s: (WARNING: Graphic/disturbing content)
The tag line that: “It takes forty dumb b***hes to make a fur coat but only one to wear it” still sticks in my head. Many of the top luxury, fashion brands shun fur; recently Versace announced they would no longer support the fur trade which should have been the last word on the matter. They would be joining Gucci (2017), Armani (2016), Michael Kors (2017), Tom Ford (2018) and of course early adopters like Calvin Klein (1994), Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren, Vivienne Westwood (all ceased fur use in 2007) and Stella McCartney (2001).
So what the hell has changed and why the celebrity endorsements? I have self-confessed pet-loving kids in my class this winter wearing obscene Canada Goose snow jackets featuring coyote fur trim. I asked one child if she had a pet dog… I had to stop myself from going further (other than an audible “yuck” but I wanted to know if she would ‘wear’ her dog’s skin). The truth is, it’s all about marketing and complacency. Celebs wearing products endorse their use (possibly get paid to promote a designer or brand) and naiive, impressionable and wannabe trendy youngsters and should-know betters (genuine celebs like Meg Ryan, Drake and Daniel Craig) extend their use and profits. The rest of us are complacent by not being firm enough about our opposition because the Nine Shocking Facts about Fur are still as relevant and globally true today as they were 20 years ago. There was an outraged response last November when retailers (ASOS, Missguided, House of Fraser) were found to be selling real fur labelled wrongly as faux-fur/polyester on the high street. So why aren’t we equally outraged by this latest example of real fur fashion?
…we shouldn’t be complacent. Since banning fur farming here, the UK has imported at least £650m worth of fur. The majority of this fur is from farms overseas where the animal suffering is just as bad, if not worse, than the cruelty we deemed unacceptable in this country. It makes our government’s claim of having “some of the best animal welfare standards in the world’ ring rather hollow when it transpires that, in the case of the fur trade, we’ve simply outsourced our animal cruelty to countries like China, Poland and Canada. ~ The Independent 24.11.17
Maybe we are being too sensitive to shock people out of their complacency:
Modern technology hasn’t made the lives and deaths of fur-bred animals more humane at all. Fashion and textiles technologists are genuinely looking for alternatives not just for fur but also leather, wool, feather down, mohair, angora and silk. Animals are not ethically (at any rate) a commodity to be used to wear, experiment on, use for entertainment, or abuse in any way. Shame on these so-called celebrity endorsements for taking society back a step or three and their resurgence of this unsustainable, cruel and archaic practice!
Further: Do More
Read Animals used for fur – via Peta.
Read Fur in fashion’s past and faux fur in its future – via Fashionista.