Can Fur in Fashion be Ethical?

Animal Fur

Can Fur in Fashion be Ethical?

I mentioned in a past post that you’d never catch me dead wearing fur. Faux fur, sure…but that’s not the point. I live my life trying the hardest I can to waste as little as I possibly can. Of course I care about the inhumane part of the fur trade (I don’t need to get into those details here…a simple Google search can do that for you if you aren’t already familiar with it) more than any other aspect of it, but I also eat meat. Although, a recent article reminded me why I was, in fact, vegetarian for 7 years out of my life between high school and college. I picked meat up again because I grew up enjoying the occasional tri tip or rib feast, and I am plagued with a serious burger fetish. Even though I grew quickly to enjoy the taste of meatless burgers and appreciate how filling a plant-based diet really can be, it was still hard for me to maintain forever (although 7 years…I’m still impressed with myself, and I am seriously impressed with true vegetarians and vegans who are set for life. Respect. That shit ain’t easy). Now, I just try to stay as hormone-free and grass-fed as possible, even more so now after reading that editorial…yuck.

But I digress…at least kinda. A lot of people have asked me, “well why wouldn’t you wear fur if you wear leather?” Ugh. I hate that question with a passion. First, leather is a bi-product of the meat industry, which isn’t going anywhere fast. Again, I’m all for zero waste, or as close to zero waste as possible which is why I can’t entirely be against meat. I admire the Native Americans who killed only what they needed, ritualistically thanked their gods after every kill, and used EVERY part of the animal. I wish we could still see things that way now. I’d much rather see the skin of a meat animal used again, whether it be for shoes, a purse, a jacket…you name it, than end up in a landfill. Refinery29 just released a great article talking about this.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, nearly 35 million cattle hides are produced by the U.S. meat industry annually. The United States Environmental Protection Agency notes that untreated cowhides weigh about 65 pounds apiece. So, 35 million hides at 65 pounds apiece — if these were pitched rather than made into leather, imagine the amount of waste!

My thoughts exactly. Now lets shift to the fur industry, where animals are usually just stripped of the skin, and the rest is discarded. Gross (although not as gross as the process, but again, not getting into that here). So yeah, people, fur and leather are not the same thing.

However, Refinery29 also mentioned in that article something that got me thinking. If fur could be ethical like leather, would I wear it? I suppose, although I’d have to be very mindful of its source (just like any meat I choose to consume now that I’ve been re-enlightened about the disgusting factory farming industry). I’d never thought about fur being ethical in any way unless I’m a hunter, in which I’d certainly use as much as I could. This is where designer Titania Inglis comes in. She sources all of her fur and leather goods as bi-products from animals hunted by tribesmen. She also keeps a very low environmental impact by manufacturing in a small shop in New York City with high-quality, low impact fabrics and dead stock wool from the clothing industry. Win!

Titania Inglis

Titania Inglis, Fall 2013

Check out some of Titania’s items from her collection…I love how minimal yet different they are. I love hearing about new ethical fashion brands or designers, and the last thing I thought I’d see is one that includes fur in her work. So can fur in fashion be ethical? Well…I guess so! I never thought I’d say that.

And why you’re at it, check out Refinery29’s article “8 Rising Stars On The Ethical-Fashion Scene“. I love this stuff!

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