The modern day exploration of the fur trade industry.
Fur: it has a bad wrap. There are organizations of people protesting, throwing red paint and having a stigma for anyone who decides to wear pretty pelts. It was one of North America’s first traded products and helped the establishment of our nation as a trading partner to the rest of the world. It is the ultimate eco-friendly item and it keeps us extremely warm in those Canadian winters; arguably more so then any other material. Which begs the question: is it really all that horrendous?
Fur pelts have been around for hundreds of years and are still around today. Fashion houses such as Dior, Jean Paul Gautier, Dries Van Noten and Ralph Lauren are the tail end of names that use fur in their collection. The Hudson’s Bay Company was one of the first established businesses in North America. With Canada’s lush forests, large terrain and immense wildlife we are the perfect type of nation to exhibit acts of agricultural manufacturing. In fact, in the Canadian government, ranch-raised fur pelts are designated as a crop under the Agricultural Marketing Programs Act – therefore, the government as a whole still sees fur production as a means of ethical practice. We use animals for various things such as the steak on your plate, the wool sweater in your wardrobe, and the glue in your toolbox; so is it unethical to use the animal to its’ full extent? True, there are many acts of cruelty within the animal product industry, such as African tradesmen poaching elephants solely for their ivory tusks; or simply targeting endangered species. Acts such as these are difficult to ethically condone, however should be looked at in a different light than the fur trade industry.
With all the attention on the environment in the last decade, it is our daily struggle to adapt to eco-friendly products and resources, for they are renewable, recyclable, biodegradable and non-toxic. As far as apparel and fashion goes, there are designers and vendors who are trying to be animal cruelty-free. While doing so, they are creating man-made products that are harsh to our environment, our landfills and essentially putting trash in our backyards. Being against fur is looking out for different species, but is it worth our own demise?
Dating back to the Metis era, fur was a high commodity on the market because of its’ warmth in harsh northern winters – and still is today. As well as being a heat insulator, fur is looked at as the ultimate in luxury and has always been an integral part of fashion. With fur’s distant cousin (twice-removed): faux fur – it is known that it won’t last as long as the real family gem – real fur. Clothing is considered as your first method of communication; in the sense that it is the first thing others see to interpret what you could be like. The way in which people dress, weather known to them or not, says something about your personality. Would the Queen look as regal; would Jackie O’ look as polished; would Marilyn look as seductive; and would Courtney Love look as trashy?
Ultimately, people should be able to choose what is ethical for them. There are different sets of morals and beliefs from person to person, so why shouldn’t an individual be able to choose if fur is right for them? There tends to be hypocrisy in this subject to begin with. After all, topics such as these, which separate numerous peoples’ opinions, ironically tend to be shaded grey. Weather or not you look at fur as an agricultural product, an organic material, or just want something chic to keep you warm, there shouldn’t be a penalty for sporting your own sentiment