It’s something we think we’re rid of, but judging by the staggering figures of the fur industry in recent years, the world is still in the throes of furry fashion.
According to PETA statistics, each year more than one billion rabbits, and 50 million other animals are raised on fur farms or trapped in the wild for the purposes of making fur.
It is an industry with which the majority of people do not feel an affinity, and many are actively opposed to. They ask why in the world would we still need to use fur if there are realistic faux fur fibres.
According to PETA, abuse in the fur industry is still rampant, especially in countries where no animal welfare laws exist.
Elisa Allen, Director of PETA UK, told UNILAD:
In China – the world’s largest exporter of fur, where there are no laws protecting animals – more than two million cats and hundreds of thousands of dogs are bludgeoned, hanged, or bled to death or even skinned alive every year for their fur, which often ends up on the global market mislabelled as “faux fur”.
Despite this, Andrea Martin, of the British Fur Trade Association insists that there is complete traceability in the industry, and strict ethical practices.
Andrea said 90 per cent of fur is produced on licensed farms which must operate under strict regulations – be they regional, state, or national.
Warning: This image is incredibly graphic:
Andrea told UNILAD:
Quite simply, there is no systemic cruelty in the fur trade. Around 90 per cent of fur is produced on licensed farms that must operate under strict regulations. Open Farm Days play a key role of debunking the myths and prejudices about fur farming and offer people the transparency they seek as consumers.
The remaining 10 per cent is sourced from wild populations that need to be managed. Most of this comes from Canada and USA, where trappers are regulated by state, provincial and territorial wildlife biologists. All traps used by the regulated trade conform to the Agreement on the International Human Trapping Standards.
Any allegations of animal abuse are immediately investigated and the fur trade fully supports the prosecution of anyone that breaks the law.
However, China, which is the largest exporter of fur in the world, has no laws protecting animals, and no penalties for animal abuse.
It has been estimated that more than 2 million cats and hundreds of thousands of dogs are killed for their fur, many of which ends up being mislabelled as ‘faux fur’.
Elisa Allen is optimistic that the industry is on its ‘last legs’, as evidenced by the recent spate of designer labels to ditch fur in their runway shows.
A PETA survey of eveary designer at London Fashion Week in the winter of 2016 found that 86 per cent of designers, including Vivienne Westwood and Faustine Steinmetz, refused to use fur in their collections.
Check out PETA’s Origins Assured video, but beware, there is extremely graphic content:
However, retail sales of fur and fur products totalled £162 million in 2016, which is a rise of 350 per cent from 2011 according to a study from the University of Copenhagen.
There is also a question of sustainability in regards to the fur industry. While many animal rights activists would advise all cruelty-conscious consumers to eschew the fur from their wardrobes, replacing them with plastic faux fur fibres may well be counter productive.
Andrea told UNILAD that natural materials like fur, wool, cotton, leather and silk are sustainable alternatives to synthetic materials, in terms of their upkeep and re-use.
Faux fur has been in fashion since the 1950s, but some believe that fake fur is actually worse than real fur.
Fake fur is made using plastic, using polymers from petroleum, coal and limestone, the production of which leads to waste being dumped in our waters.
A study by the University of California, Santa Barbara found that per wash of a faux fur item of clothing, 1,174 milligrams of microfibres were released from the item. They estimate that 40 per cent of this could end up in the world’s water.
The researchers wrote:
The investigation revealed that microfibers are a pervasive pollutant and could be affecting ecosystems and human health.
The study demonstrates a need for further research on shedding characteristics of apparel and the development of mitigation measures by producers, consumers, waste managers, and policymakers towards addressing the issue of microfiber pollution.
There is an issue of transparency in the fur industry, however, including knowing where fur comes from.
Brans such as Canada Goose line the hoods of their jackets with real coyote fur, which PETA claim is caught in ‘bone-crushing steel traps’ which are illegal in the UK because they’re so cruel.
Elisa told UNILAD:
The animals can endure horrific injuries and languish for days before eventually dying from starvation, dehydration, or blood loss. Some are so desperate to escape that they attempt to chew through their own limbs.
PETA has carried out a number of eye-catching protests internationally to inform consumers about the cruelty behind the retailer’s coats.
What if you saw this before buying a Canada Goose jacket?[via Robert Banks]
Posted by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) on Tuesday, 26 January 2016
Andrea insists, however, that the welfare of animals in the fur sector is high, and protected by strict regulations.
She also insists that the provenance of images from ‘ideologically driven animal rights activists’ should be highly scrutinised.
But the question remains, is the fur industry, and the animal deaths it causes, really worth the cost for a good coat?