PETA’s iconic 1990s anti-fur campaign with the strapline “I’d rather go naked than wear fur” certainly had an impact on the face of fashion. Today, many UK high-street shops have a ban on fur, including Topshop, H&M, New Look, Selfridges, House of Fraser, Zara and Ralph Lauren, while several designers including Vivienne Westwood and Stella McCartney are vocal about their fur-free, compassionate clothing lines.
So why do some companies still insist on creating cruel clothing in 2016? An RSPCA survey conducted in 2011 stated that 95% of British people would not want to wear fur, so why is a coyote trim on a Canada Goose jacket so frequently spotted in Jesmond?
One RPSCA spokesperson has suggested that “there are concerns that people may be starting to buy fur in ignorance. Although full mink coats may be still ethically out of bounds, the fur industry is going for trim and trinkets. Most consumers often don’t know what they are buying, and would be horrified if they realised the suffering involved.”
This suggestion could certainly be the case. On Saturday the 5th November, I joined the ranks of the Northern Animal Welfare Cooperative (NAWC) to protest the sale of fur at Michael Kors, Monument. Several shoppers who stopped to take a leaflet or look at the banners were shocked that fur would be on sale in a UK high street store, and didn’t realise that they could be buying the pelt of a murdered animal. The fur-trim wearers that passed the protest tended to be more inclined to give the finger, or even shout abuse.
In the UK, fur farming was banned and phased out in 2002, and for good reason. On fur farms, animals are confined to tiny wire cages for their entire lives, before they are anally electrocuted, gassed, clubbed, or have their necks broken.
Wild animals can also be caught in traps, steel teeth cutting into their flesh as they are unable to move for hours or even days, until the trapper returns to suffocate or bludgeon them. Yet it is shockingly still legal to import fur garments and sell them in the UK.
According to Animal Aid, worldwide more than 85% of animals that are used for fur are bred and slaughtered on fur farms. The remaining percent are trapped in the wild. Commonly used animals for fur trims include mink, rabbits, polecats, raccoons and chinchillas, yet it is little-known that an estimated two million cats and dogs are killed annually for their fur.
With many fur imports coming from China, how can you be sure that the fur pom-pom on your Michael Kors handbag isn’t from a puppy?
Faux furs and cruelty-free fabrics are widely available in shops everywhere, so the next time you’re shopping for a winter coat, consider Zara or Selfridges over the cruel Canada Goose or Michael Kors, and boycott stockists of fur.
Thankfully, it is possible to keep warm compassionately and fashionably. I’d rather be seen dead than wear fur.