Mimi Bekhechi, manager at the animal rights organisation, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, insists that it doesn’t take fur to be fashionable:
While some of the fall collections in Paris may look as if they were conceived in a taxidermist’s basement, any designer who still uses real fur – skin stolen quite literally off the animals’ backs – is seriously out of touch with today’s fashion-forward dresser.
That’s because by now, most people know that there is no kind way to obtain the stuff, unless you are out on the M1, dodging lorries while you scrape badger off the asphalt.
A 2011 TNS poll found that 95 per cent of the British public refuses to wear real fur. I suspect, had the other 5 per cent not been too engrossed in watching a TV reality show to answer the phone, they would almost all have said the same thing. Exposés carried out by PETA and our international affiliates (virtually all fur sold in Britain originated overseas) reveal that animals on fur factory farms spend their lives in tiny wire cages and often with scant to no protection from the snow and sleet in winter or the scorching summer sun.
Many animals go insane from the confinement and the relentless boredom, and footage shows minks and foxes and other animals with untreated wounds from gnawing at their own limbs. Eventually, they end up being electrocuted or drowned or beaten to death. In China, the world’s largest supplier of fur (where there is not a single law on the books to protect animals), cats, dogs and other animals are often still alive as their skin is torn from their bodies.
Today, thank goodness, people are more aware of the horrors animals endure in the clothing trade and are far more conscious of what they buy and wear – and lawmakers are responding. Earlier this year, the European Parliament approved a new regulation requiring that all clothing containing fur or leather be clearly marked with labels in case anyone thinks the coyote collar on their parka is synthetic rather than some cub’s mother or father. Explains EP member Eva-Britt Svensson of Sweden, “Consumers must have the information to be able to ethically opt out of fur products and the cruel conditions in which they are often produced”.
This anti-fur movement is echoing across the globe. Israel may soon ban the sale of fur within its borders. In May, the West Hollywood, California, City Council directed the city attorney to draft an ordinance banning fur sales. Last year, fur was banned from Oslo Fashion Week. Fashion icons such as Michelle Obama, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy and Victoria Beckham have all sworn off fur, and some of the UK’s best-loved stars – including Leona Lewis, Twiggy and Ricky Gervais – have spoken out against it.
Because of the appalling cruelty inherent in fur production, top designers including Stella McCartney, Vivienne Westwood, Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren, Perry Ellis, Liz Claiborne and others – won’t put fur in their collections. Even large retailers such as Harvey Nichols, Selfridges and Liberty of London either never did sell fur or have permanently pulled it from their shelves.
Truly talented designers do not limit their creations to relics of a less enlightened time but use their boundless imagination to craft their art with new, ethical and truly innovative fabrics. As Tim Gunn, fashion consultant and host of Project Runway, put it, “[F]ur is something of the past. We have so many advanced technologies that have created faux fur and faux leather, faux everything for that matter, that it simply … should go away”.