The quintessential mark of high fashion. This was it. This is it. I run my fingers through the silky pelt and melt as its warmth engulfs me. This is Toronto under the glittering lights of Nathan Phillips Square, this is New York on 5th Ave., this is Paris at the Opera. Few things in life embody such elegance, such affluence, such chic. This is the cusp of fashion: fur. But the fur piece I am holding is from fifteen years ago, the times have changed and faux fur is now all the rage.
Fur was one of the first materials in existence used for both clothing and bodily decoration, and has been a staple of fashion for hundreds of years. One reason for this is the extraordinary length of time a fur will serve its master. It is expensive, because each fur garment is a one of a kind, plus, as any worthwhile investment should, it lasts.
Today, fur sales worldwide are at an all time high. Since 2000, fur sales have climbed 70% with over $14 billion in annual revenues.
Faux Fur Is In Vogue.
The debate over wearing real fur or faux fur is all around us. This season, wearing real furs is perhaps less fashionable than ever before. Everywhere people are stepping out in faux fur rather than stepping out of line with the growing trend that parading around in real fur is quasi style-taboo.
The global environmental awareness of this generation has led to changes in all markets—fashion not excluded. While the popularity of fur grows, so do concerns about the fate of the animal world and the global toll on the circle of life to sate the faux fur-appetites of les gens en vogue. To avoid the controversy, many designers are choosing to be environmentally friendly by using faux fur.
For their 2010-2011 show, Chanel presented a stunning Fall Winter collection. What was unusual? Not one piece of real fur in the collection, it was all faux fur. Perhaps in response to mounting criticism worldwide for the use of real fur, Chanel invested in high quality faux fur. And Chanel is not the only brand to make the switch.
Some say that wearing “upcycled” furs (vintage furs) is okay, so long as you are not purchasing them off the market today. Celebrities who choose to wear real pelts are frequently subjected to red carpet humiliation. Flower bombs and red paint have splattered the likes of Lady Gaga, Kim Kardashian and Jennifer Lopez to name a few. Other celebrities that take a lot of flack for wearing real fur include the Olsen twins, Madonna and Kanye West.
Two Sides to the Fur Debate All Fashionistas Should Know
There are people on both sides of the fur debate. While Stella McCartney is passionately against fur and other animal products, designers like Linda Lundstrom have a more “circle of life” view on the matter. Lundstrom argues that working with real wild furs allows her to support Canadian aboriginal trappers, and states that “Fur is a renewable, sustainable resource and I use only those (pelts) which are abundant in nature.” Other countries which have indigenous populations employed in the fur trade are Russia, Finland, Norway, Poland and Namibia. Of real furs used today in clothing over 85% are farmed.
Kanye and Kim are PETA’s current “most hated” Hollywood couple. Just after Kim was flower bombed, Kanye’s lyrics “tell PETA my mink is dragging on the floor” took heat from Dan Mathews, PETA’s Senior Vice President, who responded: “What’s draggin’ on the floor is Kanye’s reputation as a man with no empathy for animals or human beings. He’s a great musician but doesn’t seem to have the fashion sense to design anything more than caveman costumes. We keep hoping that one day he’ll find his heart and join evolved style icons — including Russell Simmons, Pink, and Natalie Portman — who have dropped animal skins.” This month Kim causes another stir as she covers French Magazine Fatice, she herself covered in little more than fur.
With PETA on the prowl, many celebrities have chosen to stay fur free. Natalie Portman famously shot a PETA ad in a urinal with the tagline “I’d rather shower in piss than wear fur.” Other celebrities who have posed for PETA include Waka Flocka, Penelope Cruz, and recently, Evelyn Lozada.
Knowing Your Pelt
Some of the most popular furs on the market (real or faux) are fox, coyote, rabbit, raccoon, wolf, muskrat, lamb, and mink. Mink is the most farmed fur worldwide, the second being fox.
How to Get Your Fur On
It’s the type of fur you choose that determines how to work it and pair it. Any number of fur accessories can glamorize your look. Flaunt your style with a fur scarf, one of this seasons best buys. Pick up a pair of fur cuffs to add chic to any pair of gloves. Spice up your outdoor look and stay warm with a silver fox trapper hat or a black fox bomber hat. Fur can work with everything from knits and cottons, to leather and denim.
Something to consider when choosing your fur is that you are making a timeless investment in yourself. You can never be too old to wear fur, and it will rarely become too old to wear you! Choose pieces you feel suit your personal wardrobe and style. Every pelt is unique, so go for furs that you feel best reflect your personal taste and coloring (including your skin tone), especially when choosing hats and scarves.
Don’t be afraid to explore multi-tonal fur patterns and prints. As a personal favorite this season I recommend the Ana Konder for ASOS faux fur trapper hat. With its beautiful, long speckled two-tone fur, it has that big real look sometimes difficult to find with faux fur. You’ll hardly realize it’s faux.
Whether you choose faux fur or real fur, the fashion of fur remains the same. Don’t be afraid to try fur with anything from jeans to the most flamboyant winter jackets. Trim your everyday looks with darker or neutral furs for subtle luxury. Add bravado to your eveningwear with a full, longhaired fox scarf. Fur is ecstasy.