As an animal rights activist, I have always sided with materials that don’t originate from the animal, but what exactly are the main differences of real and fake fur, and what kind of impact do each of them have?
Hello. My name is Christopher Sergi. I’m a novelist and a blogger. My main focus is in the art of writing, but when I’m doing research I also like to explore and portray these discovered ideas and place them into my works. Feel free to comment your thoughts below on the topics that come up in this post.
As human beings we have been given a very important role on this planet of ours. We have the power to give and take with consequences only we can determine. For Pro-Fur campaigners, it’s important to know the detriments of having this material. For Anti-Fur protesters, it’s equally important to stay well informed and know when and where to voice an opinion. It’s equally important for both parties to see at least a handful of each other’s arguments in order to move forward and make valid choices when buying clothing. So, let’s proceed.
For this post, I’ve listed some subcategories: Mindset, Environment, Ethics and Style & Material. Each category will discuss the pros and cons behind both real and fake fur and how we can use our own judgements to make valid and informed purchase decisions.
Before we get into the pros and cons of real verses fake, it’s important to understand the mindset certain people may have towards fur. As somebody who works around the fashion industry, I have met and still know many people who are both ‘for’ and ‘against’ fur, and therefore have given me a good understanding of how some people perceive it.
For many people who wear fur, there are generally three main things that are present in their mindset, and they are: Exclusiveness, the fact the fur is generally regarded as premium, luxury or expensive and worn by only a select few. Rarity, the fact the animal in question may have in fact been difficult to acquire. And lastly, Statement, whether good or bad, the garment in question can attract a certain attention.
Some people believe fake fur to be a more ethical alternative whilst keeping the luxury ideals real fur possesses. Some believe faux to be more reasonably priced without loosing the key features of real fur. Or in some cases, they may feel as though they are making do, until they can afford the real thing, which is generally more expensive.
Surprisingly, the fur industry has recently changed its tune when it comes to the environment, generally to adhere more so the current trends and awareness most of it’s customers have. These days the fur industry will use terms such as “ethical, natural and responsible.” But let’s look at some of the pros and cons.
Fur is generally considered natural as it can be sourced from the wild. It is also seen as a renewable resource, since the animal can breed naturally. Real fur has also been known to decompose very quickly if not over treated with preservatives, usually taking around up to six months.
The fur industry still uses many harmful chemicals in the preservation process, such as formaldehyde, which can be toxic, especially when fur is worn around the face in the form of a hood. Contrary to belief, there have so far been no hard evidence to suggest that using trapped wild animals has any significant effect on population control.
Also, as is with the meat industry, land must be demolished for farmed fur to supply space for 1. The animals, 2. The food needed to keep them fed, and 3. To store the animal waste, which comes with it’s own set of problems. In order to keep farmed animals healthy during their short lives, antibiotics are used to help with this, though can increase the likelihood of antibiotic resistance and new strains of infections and viruses.
Wildlife is kept out of the equation and no animal is used in the production. This may also negate the need to interfere with natural habitats that may also have an effect on other species that may not necessarily be part of real fur’s production, such as the use of traps to catch coyotes, which may also catch and harm other animals that are not used.
As it is made from petroleum oil, fake fur can still be considered as a highly polluting material due to its production methods. The Apparel Coalition places Acrylics as one of the top ten most polluting materials in production. Fake fur has also been known to take nearly 1000 years to decompose, and can even release plastic particles and chemicals into the oceans after each wash.
As many of us know, Ethics are one of the most obvious aspects of the fur industry. But as always, these things have pros and cons.
Though it is very much debatable, the use of fur has been linked to the control of pests to both wildlife and business owners. Though the use of real fur ethics really stops around here. It’s important not to confuse the ethics of fur with the environmental and style categories of this post.
No matter how it’s done, an animal, whether considered a pest or not, has had to die for the sole reason of fashion. If companies genuinely had ethical concerns surrounding this, they would not make it their priority to create clothing from pelts.
In most cases animals are treated viciously and are slaughtered painfully to preserve the coat, usually by electrocuting or gassing, or in some cases, the animal is skinned alive if there is a production delay. In terms of human ethics, fur farms are considered unclean and unsafe for many workers, especially in less developed countries. Fur farmers are also facing instability in their jobs due to economic and political pressures.
Fake fur has saved millions of animals’ lives since its creation. It can be argued also that the creation of faux has led to a new workforce requirement, and led to many new jobs both in production and design.
As it is still rather polluting, much of the fake fur production comes from less developed countries, and therefore the jobs it has created can be considered underpaying and often unsuitable for health reasons.
Style & Material
A the end of the day, fur or faux, it all comes down to the final product, how it is worn and how it wears over time.
Looks plush, full bodied and bouncy. Hair filaments appear thin, pointed and are abundant. Filaments lie uniformly and do not bend. Fur has a natural sway and retains its original form in most cases. Snow is less likely to melt and cause irregular body temperature and an be easily died and shaped.
The hide can dry out and crack if not kept within an appropriate non-cedar wardrobe at a very specific temperature and darkness. Filaments can malt over time and create bald spots. Perfume odours can permanently stain the hide and create a rancid stench. Professional fur cleaners are required annually. Must be seen by a specialist immediately in the event of becoming too wet.
Many cheap colour and texture options. Can easily be sewn into many garments. Is impervious to moths, and does not require cold storage to prevent deterioration. Many fake furs can be made from wool and sewn to other fabrics for a more natural look, though wool poses many of its own controversies.
Can have a plastic-like shine. Mats easily and can clump and tangle. Flattens quickly and looses its fullness. Can look dry and stiff. Can look unnecessarily layered. Filaments lie sporadically and have a flat cut-off look at their ends. Not that insulating and does not allow the skin to breath well. Snow can seep to the base of filaments before it has a chance to refreeze, and can therefore interrupt body temperature regulation.
It seems there will always be arguments surrounded by that one little word fur. It creates controversy in many areas, and is always the centre of debate among the fashion lovers, and the animal activists.
For animal fans, such as myself, it is important to know about the pros and cons of both real and fake, as it helps to broaden the understanding of why the material is as popular as it is, and help to navigate the sometimes treacherous territory of a fur-loving world.
By debating both sides of the argument without strong facts, both parties are at the mercy of looking and sounding misinformed. There is no point arguing that fur is better for the environment when there are many opposing reasons that prove otherwise, as there is no reason for arguing faux is more ethical when the use of petroleum is chocking our oceans. In some ways, it’s best to leave both real and fake completely out of the wardrobe.
If you wear real fur because you care only for vanity’s sake, then prepare for a backlash. If you oppose real fur for its ethical controversies, then likewise, expect backlash from your arguments and statements. But like anything, we must all talk about it. The more informed and educated we are, then we can finally move forward on our human quest to be more ethical, progressive and more cultured.
An Animal Rights Novel to Make Your Sides Split
Hope you’ve enjoyed this post and gained some buying tips. As a writer, much of my inspiration comes from environmental issues, animal rights, and human rights issues. It provides vast amounts of insight for my work and me.
If you’re interested in seeing some of these issues brought to life, you can check out my novel: Adam and the Goat. It’s a fun, fast-paced action adventure with a hint of animal activism squeezed in.
Have you ever wondered what life would be like if one day you woke up to a talking goat at the end of your bed? No? Then check it out! It’s a lot of fun, we promise! You can read Chapter 1 here for a little ‘taste’.