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Jan Creamer: Do fashion designers know where the fur they show comes from?

There has has been enormous controversy over the wearing of animal fur in recent decades, but as the evidence mounts of the cruelty and suffering involved, it is becoming clear that the breeding and killing of wild animals for their fur is unethical. Animals bred on intensive fur farms suffer terribly; their short, miserable lives spent in squalid surroundings full of fear and distress, suffering injuries, infection and deformities.

And yet with so many faux options available designers have actually increased the use of real fur in their collections. This is evident with many-high-profile designers showing fur at the autumn/winter 2010 Fashion Weeks now in progress.

Fur on the catwalks creates controversy and publicity, thereby creating demand and increasing sales. The UK consumer is oblivious to the source of fur, thinking that animals are bred humanely in certified farms in Europe. The reality is far from it as highlighted in the new undercover report from Animal Defenders International, which dispels this myth.

Those who wish to wear animal fur must therefore take responsibility for the way in which the product they are wearing is produced. The animals killed to produce these items of clothing are kept in tiny, wire mesh cages and suffer from injuries and physical deformities, as well as behavioural abnormalities indicative of psychological damage, indicators that the animals cannot cope with the environment in which they find themselves.

Up to 15-20 foxes suffer and die to make a fur coat. Up to 60-80 mink suffer and die for a mink coat.

Designers especially must take responsibility for the unnecessary suffering caused by their choice of product. At the very least, any designer wishing to use fur should inspect the conditions of the animals being bred and killed for the product they desire.

There is no excuse for accepting the assurances of industry at face value – this is an issue of personal responsibility – the designer is creating demand for a product that causes millions of animals to suffer horribly, and die an excruciating death.

Jan Creamer is chief executive of Animal Defenders International, whose report, 'Bloody Harvest: The Real Cost of Fur', is out now; www.furstop.com