Tuesday 29 March 2016

Further From Fur

Fur has always been a difficult subject for the fashion world. It's an easy target, in some ways an easier one to get headlines over than if you're talking about sweatshop conditions or workplace abuse. We all like to think we're animal lovers. And yet the casual, thoughtless cruelty that goes through the fur trade like a spine has been remarkably difficult to eradicate.

Like it or not, there's still an association with luxury when it comes to fur. Although we're gradually shifting away from it, thanks in part by the tireless efforts of campaigning groups like PETA, fur still plays a role, particularly in Autumn/Winter collections. Everyone likes the Snow Queen look.

Hold on, though, I hear you ask. Surely most of the fur we see on clothes these days is fake. Well, therein lies a worrying story. You see, good fake fur costs money to produce. Sometimes it's cheaper and easier just to let standards slip a little.

There's been a distinct uptake in "faux-faux fur" from China, where cat, dog and raccoon skin has been sold to Western markets as fake, and used in clothes that are labelled as such. It's a clear violation of import and trade acts, with big fines in place for offenders. And yet the real-fakes continue to flood in. The Humane Society of America have recommended a few spot checks the consumer can do, from checking the base layer (if it's a synthetic mesh, it'll be supporting artificial fur) to setting light to a few strands. I can't see that playing well in Primark.

It's all about demand, of course. As long as people like the look, fur will continue to make an appearance on the catwalks and shop-racks. There's nothing really we can do about that. But there are hopeful signs coming from some of the biggest names in fashion.

Last week the Armani Group joined Hugo Boss in declaring that all its clothes would be fur-free in time for the Autumn/Winter colllections this year. In a statement, Georgio Armani himself said:

 “Technical progress made over the years allows us to have valid alternatives at our disposal that render the use of cruel practices unnecessary as regards animals. Pursuing the positive process undertaken long ago, my company is now taking a major step ahead, reflecting our attention to the critical issues of protecting and caring for the environment and animals.”
With big names like Armani and Boss on board, there will be a significant uptick in the production of quality faux-fur–which should hopefully lead to a drop in price, rendering the cheap "real-fake" Chinese imports a less attractive prospect for unscrupulous clothing manufacturers. Let's hope this winter will be a little less cruel.

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