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I consider myself to be relatively involved in animal rights. I’m very selective about the brands and products I buy based on animal treatment and testing, and I have been a vegetarian for most of my life.
As much as I love the look of leather and fur, I always avoid it to the best of my ability, opting instead for faux replacements. But it struck me recently: Is that any better?
The popularity of fur in today’s market is largely thanks to the idea embedded in our society that fur equals wealth, glamour, and power. Though it was struck down as cruel and passe fabric by PETA, designers, and celebrities like Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell in the ‘80s and ‘90s, the fur sponsored fashion shows and heavy fur placement in the pages of Vogue have helped to revive the industry.
The horrors of the fur trade may have been exposed time and time again, but somehow both producers and buyers still appear to think fur is fancy and gorgeous. Vegan designer Stacey Bendet of Alice + Olivia once said on wearing fur and using it in her collections: "I don't feel that guilty wearing it. I don't know why. It doesn't make sense. Something about putting it inside me feels really barbaric. Something about wearing it just feels a little glamorous."
Still, the industry is seeing a slow shift toward faux alternatives. Incredible fakes are being developed that even the experts can’t tell from the real thing, and fur-loving designers like Karl Lagerfeld and Miuccia Prada have started to incorporate it into their lines. Though fur is still incredibly visible on the runways, more and more of it is being replaced by a faux version of the same fabric, and some magazines are even starting to recommend the less cruel option.
It looks like real fur taken from electrocuted, suffering animals may once again be on its way out, but is there something wrong with going faux?
My favourite coat is a puffy, cheap faux number from H+M. I call it my “teddy bear coat,” because the fluff is so clearly faux it looks like stuffed animals were skinned to make it. The best part is I didn’t even buy it: It belonged to my friend, who traded it at a clothing swap (somehow forgetting how often I asked to borrow it), and my partner somehow tracked the new owner down and traded more clothing with them to get it for me for Christmas.
This is garment recycling at its finest, my friends, and I wear the coat whenever I want to feel extra cuddly (which is almost everyday.) I’m also constantly eyeing super-furry new pieces to add to my wardrobe:
So what’s the downfall? I’m quite vocal about my feelings toward animal rights and my vegetarian/sometimes vegan diet. I constantly watch documentaries about the plight of our animal friends, then spam everyone I know endlessly to sign petitions, boycott Seaworld, spay and neuter, etc.
But when I wear my teddy bear coat outside, people look at me more. They look closely, and they look angry. They think I’m wearing fur, and often when I tell them it’s faux, they still scowl.
Does wearing faux fur reinforce the glamour and trendiness of real fur, validating animal’s bodies as something we should be wearing? Do I give traction to a trend I loathe by stepping out in a faux fur ensemble? Personally, I don’t think so. By wearing faux and being proud of where it came from, I think I only help build awareness for alternatives.
But what do you think? If faux fur a faux pas, or a great cruelty free alternative to a super glam look?