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The Daisy Debate: Fur better, fur worse?

Is it sometimes greener to wear fur? asks Sallyanne Flemons. Join the debate

Rabbit fur farm. Thanks to CAFT.org.uk for image

The September 2011 issues of high end fashion mags were loaded with ads featuring models clad in fur.

And the fur was definitely real – a quick check online confirms the collections of Louis Vitton, Gucci, Roberto Cavalli and Max Mara all feature it. As usual, they are echoing the season’s catwalks.

The fur debate is no stranger to Daisy Green. You can read Elizabeth’s article Fur and Fashion: A personal choice for a quick exploration of the fur industry and how it works.

In this nation of animal lovers, passions run high on any practise involving harming animals yet in 2011 there is plenty of cash to be made selling real fur clothing to fashion conscious women.

Looking at it dispassionately for a minute, there are many who are happy to wear leather and eat meat. Is wearing fur so different?

For those of us who are vegan or vegetarian, the lines are very clearly drawn.

But for others, it is a complicated and rather sticky dilemma.

Where do you think is the right place to stand on the issue for the modern girl?

Taking a broad view of ethics, as I see it, one of the problems with human beings is that we have appointed ourselves masters of all we survey, better than other creatures, who can do as we please.

Instead, I believe that we should accept that we are a tiny part of a complex ecosystem evolved over millions of years to find the perfect balance.

The balance works when species, including us, only consume what we need to survive, respecting all the other species and natural resources around us.

In prehistoric times, early humans had to wear animal skins to avoid freezing to death and you can be sure that pretty much every other part of the animal they wore was put to good use.

These days, when fur is used it is very frequently not a by product (fox meat anyone?) and there are other things we can wear to keep warm.

Children throwing dead Possums in New Zealand

Wearing fur from animals farmed and killed purely for fashion is an option rejected by millions of women. But what about when pelts are taken from ‘pest species’ already being actively controlled in the wild?

In New Zealand there are plenty of outlets selling what they describe as ‘eco fur’ in the form of possum pelts.

One website dubs the introduced Brushtail Possum ‘the greatest threat to New Zealand’s native forests and wildlife’ and uses the slogan ‘Buy a possum, save a forest’.

It’s a strong argument. It is undoubtedly sustainable to use parts of a wild ‘pest’ animal that is being destroyed anyway.

More Earth-kind than making garments from, say, farmed non-organic cotton when you take into account the land set aside to grow cotton, the pesticides and water used.

But once again isn’t this a situation that’s arisen because of our own actions? If we hadn’t gone and ‘introduced’ species like the possum into New Zealand and upset the ecological balance there would be no need to kill the poor beast.

In my mind, the majority of fur products are a symbol of our skewed relationship with the natural world.

For all these reasons I personally would find it hard to wear any kind of fur with pride but it’s far from a clear cut case of right or wrong.

What do you think? Fur better, fur worse – farmed fur, wild fur, vintage fur… Is it ever OK to wear it? Have your say by leaving a reply below.

Read more about the children throwing dead Possums

Sallyanne Flemons

Strengths: Hunting down and extinguishing little red standby lights. Weaknesses: Shoes, shoes. And boots.
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15 Responses »

  1. my sister and i nagged our mum to get rid of her fur coats back in the 80’s and in the end she caved in and got rid we used to say only a dumb animal wears a dumb animal speaks volumes really

  2. the old adage only ugly women and beautiful animals wear fur stands true to me and always will

  3. My mom recently sold an antique Mink coat to a vintage market for £10 as she would never wear it. They had some fox wraps for sale and a few other items I couldnt identify but were clearly aged. Perhaps recycling ‘old’ fur like this is more acceptable? I still cant see myself wearing any, although I am looking forward to getting my suede pig skin winter coat out of storage soon. I have no problem wearing that.

  4. Fur farms are dreadful places for the animals involved (tiny wire mesh cages) and don’t forget that some fur is wild-caught, with all the cruelty that involves (leg-hold traps, etc), and some animals are skinned alive in the Far East, so I don’t think wearing fur is justifiable or defensible.

  5. The fur belongs to the animal, end of. As a vegetarian, for purely moral reasons, I have problems with wearing leather, and do avoid it whenever possible, but it is hard finding shoes that fit that arern’t leather based. Sadly, I sometimes have to swallow my principles and buy the leather shoes. Fur, however, is never, in my eyes, acceptable-it is so totally unnecessary when fake fur looks just the same, and the cruelty involved in getting the fur in the first place just sickens me-and says volumes about the characters and personalitys of the people who work in the industry, and buy these revolting garments. What kind of a person can care so little for the fate of another living, feeling animal? I would not like to know anyone who thinks that fur is ever acceptable, because they must be truly unpleasant people.

  6. i think wearing fur full stop is disgusting, and i feel nothing but loathing for those that choose to.

    as for ‘pest fur’ if we have such lack of respect for a living creature we see it a pest, we certainly dont deserve to benefit from its existence.

  7. It’s interesting that you have an article about the use of fur when one of your competitions this month features an eel skin handbag. The eel is an endangered species. Rabbits and foxes are often viewed as pests.

    I am a vegetarian and fair enough to those vegetarians who have commented on here saying they do not agree with fur. However I do find it hard to take the comments of those of you who aren’t vegetarian/vegan seriously when more animals are killed on your behalf than ever will be by the fur industry. The same applies to those of you who own cats or dogs – do you mourn the rabbits killed to make their food?

    I agree with Theresa in that I would never wear ‘new’ real fur but I don’t see any problem with wearing fur that is already in existence – vintage coats and the like. The damage has already been done so it might as well be used. I would never wear anything made of ‘new’ fur though.

  8. I can’t even believe this is a topic of debate. Only the animals born with their fur should wear their fur.

    It’s absolutely disgusting, cruel, sick and horrendous. I’m vege and don’t wear leather. A cow was butchered in a terrible terrible way for that leather. Their are plenty of other options.

    Even ‘pests’ should be respected. Tbh I wouldn’t even wear faux fur, just because of the principle and link it has to the real thing.
    We need to respect animals, we have no right to abuse them in such awful ways.

  9. Wearing fur is disgusting and morally unjustifiable. I agree completely with Jacky’s comments and I too would not want anything to do with anyone wearing fur . People who choose to wear fur have no respect for animals and if more people had respect for animals the world would be a far better place.

  10. I dont think anyone should wear fur, i think it’s disgusting to be wearing something that used to be on animal, we are re not animals are we? It’s not like we need to wear them, i think they look ugly too. Also these animals are killed to get the fur too, would you want to die so someone could use your skin? i think not, i love animals so much, so why kill them? it’s so very wrong.

  11. I think it’s wrong, i wouldn’t want to go round wearing something that was on an animal. Plus these animals are killed for it too, would you want to be killed for your skin? i think not! Also it’s not just fur it’s all animal skin, it’s all wrong! Plus wearing fur is not a neccesity we dont need it, so why do it? i care about animals so much more than looking good or keeping warm, it should be made illegal!

  12. Leave the fur where it belongs, on the animal!

  13. I am a vegetarian, I have a fur stole and I love it. I also have a sheepskin coat (funny how so many people think sheepskin is fine and fur isn’t)

    Both these things were bough second hand from vintage shops. I wouldn’t wear new fur as I don’t agree with supporting the trade, but wearing vintage clothes is recycling in it’s most basic form, which is fantastic for the environment. I think more young designers should work with vintage fur – that way you can have the look (and you have to admit, fur does look and feel beautiful) but all the nastiness of modern farmed fur.

    I know some people will find my views offensive, as I do really love my (vintage) fur, but we each need to choose our own set of morals and stick with them. I’ve made a lot of moral choices about the clothes I wear, having for the last 6 months not bought anything that could have been produced in a sweatshop. I could never eat meat, but I never would judge or despise those who do. You don’t need to eat meat and you don’t need to wear fur – each person should make their own choice. For me, vintage is the answer.

  14. I agree completely with Christina (post number 9) – wearing fur is disgusting and the second Christina’s comments don’t make sense. I am a vegetarian too and cannot believe any vegetarians with integrity would wear, or approve of anyone wearing, fur – whether of modern or vintage origin.

    If you wear vintage furs you are supporting the trade, because whether you like it or not you are sending a message that it’s fine to wear a dead animal’s coat, and nevermind the suffering that was involved. Simple as that!

  15. Martha – no. 7 – you should read Grace’s comments as they apply to you too. Wearing vintage fur is the same as wearing new fur – all the animals involved were killed for the ‘fashion industry’ – it just seems an excuse for someone who appears to have morals, to wear fur – you either respect animals or you don’t, there is no grey area here.

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