Fur has always been dead glamorous.
50s starlets went around with mink stoles slung over their shoulders, while up until relatively recently, everyone who was anyone owned a rabbit coat or some foxy gloves.
And then, one day, we all woke up and realised that wearing fur is completely monstrous.
Which is why loads of people kicked off when Kendall Jenner walked down the catwalk yesterday at the DSquared2 Milan Fashion Week show in a full length ‘fur coat’.
Is this for really happening now? many of us thought.
Sure, the fashion industry isn’t the most ethical one but some pretty top designers have recently come out in full support of banning fur. Michael Kors – a designer famed for his use of fur has said he’s stopped using it, as has Jimmy Choo and Gucci.
It’s not a minority interest anymore.
And yet, here was Kendall bloody Jenner – a hero to millions of teens and trash TV addicts – wearing what definitely looked like the product of animal torture.
It’s unclear whether the coat was faux or not (we’ve reached out DSquared2 to check) but the brand certainly stock a lot of fur items so it doesn’t seem unreasonable to suggest that the coat may have been real.
And does it really matter if it was fake or not? Isn’t having fur in any form on a catwalk still propagating the idea that fur is still fashionable, and that cruelty is still chic?
It’s weird that, despite how many cool new materials there are out there, we can’t move away from ones that we’ve relied on since the stone age. Suede, leather, fur – all denote quality and luxury.
A concerted effort from labels to change how we think about fashion textiles might go some way to reducing the number of animals killed every year for their hides (and no, many are not eaten after they’re skinned).
Stella McCartney has paved a way for luxury synthetic fashion that few have been able to emulate.
And then, of course, there’s a problem with cheaper items looking and feeling so convincing that it’s nigh-on impossible to tell what’s real and what’s faux.
I put the question to a number of long-term vegans and the vast majority said that the increasing good quality of faux fur could only be a good thing.
‘I don’t think it encourages people to wear animal products,’ says Claire.
‘I have a coat with a faux fur trim on the hood and it hasn’t inspired anyone to wear fur. I also have faux leather shoes and bags and when people compliment them I say: “Thanks. They’re not actually leather. They’re vegan.”
‘People are surprised and impressed that vegan alternatives look so good. I think it actually shows people that you can be vegan and not have to change your style to do it.’
Fern says that it’s a bit like eating a plant-based burger or seitan fried ‘chicken’.
‘Faux leather and fur is like faux meat and is a great thing. If there was no demand for faux it would be fur or nothing and harder to persuade someone who wants the look – there would be no alternative for anyone wanting something fluffy.
‘I find it hard to believe people can’t tell the difference. There must be some ignorant people but I know the difference immediately when I check the item over. It’s not hard. The general public doesn’t like it. Big retailers don’t want it and get shamed if it’s found.
‘It’s the bloody market stands, specialist posh shops and vintage places that keep selling it.’
But others think that it’s a debate that could go either way. To some, it could show that we really don’t need real fur…and to others, it’s proof that there’s a market for fur still – encouraging more and more brands to add it to lines under the misapprehension that folk are wearing faux due to lack of cash and not because of a moral stance.
‘I think with the increased use of faux fur on items, there is a belief that fur is fashionable and so we now have the increased use of bits of dog or cat etc on bobble hats and so on – often made in China and sold by stores/markets stalls that put profit before anything,’ explains Eve.
‘Many of the larger stores, I believe, got caught out by this and now have to take more care about how the source faux fur as it isn’t always faux!
Just today, Boots has stopped selling bobby pins over fears that the fur on them is real, and according to Good Morning Britain, loads of high street shops have been selling hats, coats and bags with ‘100% polyester faux fur’ trims and pom poms which have turned out to be real fur from raccoons and rabbits.
‘It”s not ideal because it might give the mistaken impression to non-vegans that it’s ok to wear fur if you’re vegan,’ says Duncan.
‘The more realistic it looks the worse the effect could be. You could say the same about leather-look shoes, though, I suppose. And some might argue fake fur is pretty well-known as a thing now so most wouldn’t just assume it was real.’
But even PETA thinks that faux is fine.
‘We’re all familiar by now with the cruelty inherent in the fur industry, which is why most British high-street stores have firm fur bans in place and luxury brands are increasingly opting to use innovative vegan fabrics over animal skins,’ their Director of International Programmes PETA, Mimi Bekhechi tells Metro.co.uk.
‘Compassion is in fashion, and the majority of the fluffy coats you see on the streets are made with faux fur – not the skins of animals whose bones were crunched in steel-jaw traps in the wild or who were confined to filthy, cramped cages on fur farms and killed by electrocution, bludgeoning, or poisoning.’
They say that the argument that seeing an increase in faux fur would encourage the consumption of genuine fur is nonsense.
‘It’s hard to imagine that seeing a faux fur coat would encourage anyone to pay to have animals murdered in this way – and for people who want the look and feel of fur without the cruelty, faux fur can be a good option. Of course, we do remind compassionate consumers that if they have any doubts as to whether or not an item is made with animal skin, they should leave it on the shelf.’
But whether you believe more faux is fab or not, one thing’s for sure, we should all be outraged every time we see the real thing on catwalks.