Fur is one of the oldest forms of clothing. It is a garment that has been worn throughout our history – since prehistory times. The main question is, do we buy real fur or faux fur? This has been one of the biggest debates over the last few years and has stirred up a lot of controversy within the fashion industry. Both sides are completely different. It has become an issue of ethics on one side, and an environmental issue on the other. The purpose of this article is not to make you choose between one or the other. You may be a fur fanatic or faux fur fashionista. Both have their pros and cons, and this is to simply bring up the major issues and points in both, as I think that at one point or another, we may all have questioned ourselves for either ethical or environmental issues and asked which one we should wear.
While some high-end designers such as Michael Kors embrace real fur, other designer labels such as Ralph Lauren, Chanel, and Prada have shown faux fur in some of their recent collections. This has offered a guilt-free alternative for fashion-conscious individuals and has left real fur aficionados wondering if they should turn to faux-fur instead now that high-end designers are turning to faux-fur. This faux-fur trend has been increasing for the last few years. Prada’s Fall 2011 show included a mix of both real and faux fur. Chanel’s Fall 2010 show was also mainly based on faux fur. It was everywhere – coats, boots, dresses, shoes, etc. “Global warming is the issue of our times. Fashion has to address it,” said Lagerfeld to after the successful show as mentioned in Fashionologie (http://www.fashionologie.com). According to an August 28th, 2011 article in the Los Angeles Times, the designer told The Telegraph that he went with faux fur for two reasons:
“first, Fendi does the best real furs and he doesn't want to compete, and second, technical advances are so perfect you can hardly tell fake fur from the real thing. Fake is not chic — we have got a new Chanel tweed to stop copies — but fake fur is.”
On the other side, PETA, which is one of the world’s largest animal rights organization claims, ‘Every time we buy or wear clothing without real fur, we reduce animal suffering in the world.’ We have seen many celebrities posing for PETA’s “I’d Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur” campaign in which they appear nude to express their opposition of wearing fur. Some of these celebrities include Khloe Kardashian, Elisabetta Canalis, and so on. The list of PETA supporters is endless. With less celebrities wearing real fur as more high-end designers come out with faux-fur garments, and also with PETA’s different anti-fur campaigns, it appears to be that the faux fur trend is increasing and that the stigma that used to exist in fake fur is slowly decreasing.
So we see designers such as Karl Lagerfeld coming out with beautiful faux-fur garments and celebrities posing for PETA, however we may ask ourselves, is it really ethically better to buy faux-fur? Does this have any negative impact on the environment? It surprisingly does. Many synthetic furs are made from toxic petroleum chemical which damage and pollute the earth. This has been one of the biggest concerns that have been rising in the last few years. Also, these synthetics are not biodegradable or recyclable. I have heard countless people constantly say fur lasts a lifetime, faux-fur will only last you one season. In addition, some may say that faux-fur is not environmentally clean and that it does not have the same feel and look to it compared to real fur. However at the end of the day this will really depend on the how much you decide to spend on your faux-fur coat or vest.
The following are some reasons to buy real fur vs. faux fur.
Five reasons to buy real fur:
· At the end of the day, it is a better investment
· Real fur lasts a lifetime
· It is recyclable, repairable, and can also be turned into a new garment
· Fur is biodegradable and environmentally friendly
· It has a smooth and soft feel to it
Five reasons to buy faux-fur:
· Faux fur is more affordable
· Fashion designers are now turning to faux-fur
· It is an ethical alternative to real fur
· It is PETA-friendly
· Faux fur takes less energy to produce than real fur
So think again, is it more morally acceptable to wear real fur instead of buying a synthetic fur that may be damaging to the environment? Or is it more ethically acceptable to buy faux-fur over the real deal? Is faux fur really the answer to real fur and vice-versa? These are some questions to think about. It is highly evident that both real and faux furs have their pros and cons. You may ask yourself: which one is better? Which one do I buy? There is not right or wrong answer to this question. I believe it is a matter of personal liberty and choice.
I leave you with a quote by designer Dennis Basso, who works with real furs in his ready-to-wear line, but also has a faux-fur collection as well.
“It’s all about a fashion statement and creating a look, just like you would with any other fabric. You’re able to do some things with faux fur that you can’t do with real fur. Like, you would never make something in real leopard or cheetah. Women will buy something in faux not just for how realistic it seems but because of the look and design. It was originally made to imitate fur, but today it stands on its own”. – Dennis Basso (Los Angeles Times, August 29, 2011)