Thursday, May 23Royal Holloway's offical student publication, est. 1986

The Real Fur Debate

Those of you who have seen videos of fur farming will have, no doubt, been appalled by the gruesome and bloody images, and quite naturally will have proclaimed yourself anti-fur. Yet, on the runways of Paris, New York, London and Milan when the new winter season comes, fur is still prominently featured. There seems to be a gap between the average customer and the world of real fur. This is an opportune moment in which to shed a little light on the subject, exploring both viewpoints and possibly seeing if there is a middle way.

My partner in this Martha Lochhead, an anti-fur voice, who has joined me in an open-minded discussion on the matter, to attempt to find a way through the heated voices on both sides and reach a place where fashion and compassion can coexist.

Tom: So Martha, I don’t think I am wrong in saying that you are not a mink kind of girl, I just wanted to ask you briefly to explain why you wouldn’t go out and pick up say one of Prada’s beautiful fur linked loafers in their 2017 Fall/Winter collection?

Martha: Personally, I wouldn’t wear anything that was made from an animal. I think it’s quite frankly unnecessary, especially as faux fur is available, you can achieve the look without an animal suffering.

Tom: What would you say if I told you that there was a large environmental cost with the use of petroleum (a non-renewable substance taken from crude oil) in the creation of faux fur and that the use of real fur has a far less harmful impact on the environment?

Martha: I think it’s difficult because the manufacturing of pretty much all clothes negatively impacts something or someone. For example, children in sweat shops suffering to produce cheap clothing. I was enlightened by a friend who studied fashion design that the fashion industry is the second most wasteful industry in the world, after food. So I try to wear second hand clothes. I think the argument surrounding fur is due to it blatantly involving the suffering of animals.

Tom: I’d like to pick up on the point of the wastefulness of fur. The Canadian Fur Board promotes fur as an environmentally conscientious industry, they offer wild fur farming as a necessary bi-product of culling, which is needed to ensure the control of the ecosystem. In my view, the use of wild fur instead of farmed fur serves simply to helping the reduction of waste as a needed evil, and allows people to wear a beautiful material whilst making use of a resource, which if not used would merely rot away. How can fur be wrong if by wearing it you reduce waste?

Martha: I wouldn’t wear fur as I associate it with the body of a dead animal. However, I’m not naïve to the fact that the fashion industry is vast and isn’t going to disappear overnight. If we cannot stop the use of fur in fashion then using fur that is created as a bi-product of culling, seems like a comprise that prevents the suffering of the animal.

Tom: That seems like a fair compromise, however I should add that there is a significant body of fur (pardon the pun) which is still produced in farms.

Martha: Exactly, which is cruel to the animals.

Tom: So it seems like although there is a middle way there is still work to be done in branding fur with compassion?

Martha: Yes, I would say so.

Tom: Thank you so much for talking to me, I hope that together we have provided even a little illumination on such a hot button topic.