This Fashion Week, turn your back on fur

The fur industry has been keen to tout fur's alleged environmental credentials, but the idea that fur is in any way “green” is pure fiction

Share

Two of my greatest passions are fashion and animals – which is why you'll never find fur or exotic skins in any of the clothes from FrostFrench, the label that I started with my friend Jemima French in 1999. I have never worn fur. It reminds me of death, and I know that I'm not alone since 95 per cent of British people say that they would never wear real fur.

Retailers and designers are getting the message. From the catwalk to the high street, the range of cruelty-free clothing available right now is truly exciting. Earlier this year, I was one of the judges for PETA's first-ever Vegan Fashion Awards, and I was so impressed by all the wonderful creations on offer. Pleather, microsuede, faux cashmere – these are just a few of the animal and eco-friendly fabrics available today, and the quality is truly remarkable. Many of these materials are easier on the wallet than the "real" thing.

All of them are also easier on your conscience.

From birth until death, animals on fur farms life in abject misery. When investigators from The Animal Rights Alliance, Inc, toured fur farms in Sweden, they found minks crammed into filthy wire cages. Although minks are semi-aquatic animals, farmed minks are never allowed to dive into a cool stream or feel the grass beneath their feet – or do anything else that is natural and important to them. This extreme deprivation causes the animals severe psychological distress, and photos from the investigation show that many of the minks had resorted to self-mutilation and even cannibalism.

When most people think about the fur industry, the first thing that comes to mind is probably the animals' terrifying slaughter. Few people consider that they also suffer from mind-numbing boredom, neglect and loneliness day in and day out, usually for months and sometimes for years, before that final moment comes.

Similarly shocking conditions were exposed on fur farms across Finland, where animals were found with untreated, oozing wounds and broken, malformed limbs. Dead animals infested with maggots were left to rot among the living. Many animals circled frantically in their cages, driven insane by their confinement. The squalor that these animals endure stands in stark contrast to the opulence of the fur industry and the high price tags that accompany fur fashions.

It might surprise you to learn that these are not isolated rogue farms. Sweden and Finland are both "Origin Assured" countries, a label created by the fur industry specifically to dupe consumers into thinking that the animals were treated well. But the only genuine way to guarantee that animals did not suffer for a fur garment is to look for the label that reads "faux".

The fur industry has also been keen to tout fur's alleged environmental credentials, but the idea that fur is in any way "green" is pure fiction. In fact, several countries, including Belgium and Canada, have banned advertising claims to that effect peddled by the fur industry. Fur is loaded with chemicals to keep it from decomposing in buyers' closets, and fur production pollutes the environment and wastes precious resources. In 2011, an independent research-and-consultancy organisation published a study assessing the impact of fur production with respect to 18 different environmental issues, such as climate change, ozone pollution, soil acidification and water and land use, and compared the results with the impact of other common textile industries. For 17 of the 18 issues, fur was found to be much more harmful than common textiles.

Fortunately, with ethical consumerism on the rise, "faux" is easy to find and increasingly important to young shoppers. A slew of trendy retailers have banned fur from their racks, including AllSaints, H&M, New Look, Topshop and Zara. (H&M and Topshop have banned exotic skins as well.) World-famous department stores Harvey Nichols, House of Fraser and Selfridges won't sell it. Neither will fashion-forward designers such as Dame Vivienne Westwood, Betsey Johnson, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger.

My good friend Stella McCartney – who won Designer of the Year at the British Fashion Awards and is the most-Googled name in fashion – has gone a step further, refusing to work with fur, exotics skins and leather.

And some of the world's most stylish women, including Kate Winslet, Eva Mendes, Michelle Obama, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, Victoria Beckham, Charlize Theron, Penélope Cruz and Fearne Cotton, wouldn't dream of wearing real fur.

You may see fur during Fashion Week events, but it's just a smoke-and-mirrors campaign on the part of the fur industry, which lures designers – especially those just starting out – with free fur and even pays them to promote its products. But even if fur does show up on the catwalk, it doesn't necessarily mean that it's going to end up in a designer's collection.

I want my children to respect animals and not view them merely as fashion accessories. If you feel the same – and I hope you do – please turn your back on cruelly produced fur and exotic skins and explore the huge variety of stylish shoes, bags, collars and coats that aren't the product of an animal's senseless death.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Because measles spreads so easily, 95 per cent of the population needs to be vaccinated  

Measles outbreak: Andrew Wakefield didn’t cause the MMR panic without the help of journalists

Will Gore
 

If I were Prime Minister: Unlike our current party leaders, I'd actually stand for something

Natasha Devon
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?