Thursday, January 24, 2013

To Fur or Not to Fur

I'm just going to get this out of the way right away: dolly kei involves a fair bit of fur. So does lolita. So does much of retro style. So do a lot of alternative fashions. So does mainstream fashion, couture and otherwise.

And I'm just one person giving an opinion, so take it with a grain of salt.

The subject of fur is something that most people, at some point in time, will form an opinion about, and fur is one of those things that people disagree wildly on. Some people would never wear any fur, real or fake. Others will wear faux fur but not real. Others will wear both. Still others eschew faux fur entirely, preferring real fur.

There are many articles floating about online on the subject of how to wear fur, how to tell real fur from faux fur, how you can't tell real fur from faux fur, and many more subjects.

It's a lot for a girl to sort out when she's looking for some warm winter wear and, strangely enough, there are rarely articles that talk about the decision of whether or not to wear fur.

So I'm going to share my opinion.

Personally, I'm not a really fan of real fur. I don't like the idea that the creatures whose pelts I would be wearing died solely for their skins to be worn by people like me. I own many pieces that feature faux fur as an alternative, from a warm stole I purchased recently to boots with faux fur accents.

However, I do own two pieces of real fur. Both are vintage, secondhand items that have been around at least since the 1950s. I have one fur collar, given to me by my aunt from her vintage collection. I also have one fur coat, the story of which I must tell you another day because it makes me feel connected to something much larger than myself.


Both of these pieces are items that I frequently think about when I consider the ethics of fashion. On the one hand, I do not, as a rule, wear fur. However, these items both have special meaning to me. They are more than just clothing; they are mementos of particular occasions, of people I love in the case of the collar and of a story I uncovered in the case of the coat. They are my connection, physical and tangible, to someone else. They are also one form of recycling. Rather than just throwing them out or leaving them to languish in dusty corners of storerooms or antique shops, they are being used. For those reasons, I am willing to make an exception.

But that's me.

The truth is, though, that I cannot decide for you what you do on this issue. I can only give you a few things to consider as you try to decide.
  • Cost. Real fur tends to be much costlier. Vintage coats can be purchased for reasonable prices, but in general it is far and away cheaper to buy faux fur.
  • Weight. Faux fur, by the nature of the process by which it was made, tends to be very different in terms of texture. Faux fur often has a very heavy base fabric holding the individual hairs together. Real fur, on the other hand, has leather, which tends to be softer and more flexible.
  • Origin. Yes, real fur comes from animals. If you have issues with animal products, that's something you will need to wrestle with when it comes to real fur. You can always bypass the issue with faux fur.
  • New or vintage. This is a big factor in my decision. New fur bothers me. Vintage fur does not, because I am not supporting the fur industry. Instead, I am recycling.
If you make a decision that is different from mine, that's fine. I understand. This is something that we each need to weigh out for ourselves. It's something, though, that we do need to weigh out, to consider thoroughly before we act.

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