Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Faux Real

Faux Real?

With a wicked winter fast approaching, will real fur be keeping you cozy this season?

For decades, real fur has symbolized style and wealth among those who choose to don it. For others who are passionate about animal rights (think PETA), it symbolizes cruelty and thoughtless behaviours of those who wear it. Animal rights activists believe faux fur is a significant replacement to real fur and should be used for warm hats, gorgeous coats and intricate hood linings. As we prepare to bundle up for the frigid season ahead, which is the better choice, real fur or faux fur?

Real fur, commonly used for coats and trims, has a particularly soft hand and smooth texture. These trims are often made up of different lengths of fur that appear to be curly and thick towards the leather base. When real fur is placed over an open flame, it will singe and smell – similar to burning human hair. When creating a garment that includes fur, mink, coyote, seal, rabbit, ermine and select large cats are most desirable.

Real fur is often used to create several styles of fashion forward and expensive garments. In today’s industrialized fashion industry, real fur apparel is seen has a statuesque because of their uniqueness and steep price tag. The look and texture of real fur is lavish, but it has numerous benefits apart from these stylistic features. The most common advantage of fur coats is that they are able to provide substantial warmth – especially in our cold Canadian climate. Fur trims are often used around hoods of winter coats for similar reasons. Real fur is able to keep snow from melting and refreezing along the fibre lining the coat. This is exceptionally important in outdoor activities that are done in very cold-weather conditions such as skiing, hiking and mountain climbing. Contrary to popular belief, real fur does not need special care when being stored. Fur is moth resistant and therefore no particular storage is needed to prevent deterioration in the fibres.

Many of the controversial problems stirred up by animal rights activists are based off of the treatment of the animal. In many slaughterhouses around the globe, animals are raised only to be killed. However, it is common that numerous parts of the animal are used upon its death – not just one. Most likely, once an animal is slaughtered the meat, fur and often the bones will be used for food, clothing and bone char (used in some types of sugars). In situations like these, the animal is not going to waste – nevertheless there are still cruel situations where animals are being mistreated. For example, in the artic seals are often clubbed, skinned, and their bodies and meat are left to decompose because only the fur is desirable.

Faux fur has been coined as the “animal-friendly” alternative that many people choose to wear on their clothing. Faux fur involves using synthetic chemicals such as acrylic and polyester to make the fibres. Faux fur may be considered the animal-friendly substitute, however, it is not ideal for the environment. Unlike real fur, faux fur consists of several chemical blends that could take upwards of 1,000 years to break down.

The most obvious benefit of faux fur is that it reduces the number of animals that are inhumanly killed for their fur. Apart from the obvious, there are many esthetic features of faux fur as well. Faux fur is a fabric; therefore it is very easy to sew and comes in a wide assortment of colours, patterns and styles. As the fashionista looking to wear fur grows to a younger demographic, faux fur is ideal because of its low price tag and machine washable feature. It is also very fast-fashion – faux fur often comes in a wide collection of colours and trend-setting styles.

In the case of faux fur, many of the controversial problems are based on the environment. When acrylic and polyester are used to manufacture faux fur, it is at a cost to our health as humans. Acrylic can be deemed responsible for large-scale pollution of our air and waterways. On the other hand, polyester is made using oil based products. Oil, being a natural resource, should be used sparling as it is detrimental to our future. As for the workers who are producing these garments in the Far East, they work under harsh conditions where this hazardous mixture of pollutions is thought to cause cancer. Even after the faux fur garment has been made, and worn, it is still threatening to the environment. Faux fur can take years to degrade, causing the chemicals to seep into the ground, nearby fields and rivers once it has been discarded. This then continues to pose as a threat to humans and animals – both wild and domestic.

It is clear that there are both animal and environment downfalls to real and faux fur. However, whether it is fashion or function they both bring benefits to the wearer. As you hit the stores to purchase your new coat for the icy weather that awaits us, will real or faux fur be your choice?

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