Winter, despite its frosty reputation, is the season of cuddling by the fireplace under a warm blanket while sipping a hot cup of vegan hot chocolate. Unfortunately, it’s also the season when fur comes out of the closet. Of all the wonders that exist in this season’s “wonderland,” people decked out in skin that isn’t their own is not one of them.
For those who wear fur, it is a symbol of luxury and the upper class, but for others passing a fur wearer on the street is the equivalent of walking by a butcher shop. The only place fur belongs is on its owner, which certainly isn’t a human (unless you count a hipster beard, which is a whole other article).
The Horrors of the Fur Industry
The fur industry, as most people know, is a cruel one. When people speak of factory farming, they usually are referring to meat, but the fur industry is just another component of this system. Fur farms, as the recent documentary The Ghosts in Our Machine discusses, are usually located even farther from populated areas than other types of factory farming. There’s a reason for this. The Ghosts in Our Machine depicts the harrowing screams and screeches that echo through these farms, as well as the atrocious conditions that lead to painful suffering for these animals. These are not sights and sounds the fur industry wants exposed.
The Humane Society estimates that millions of animals are killed each year to supply fur, including cats and dogs. In addition to animals killed for fur, other animals are often caught in fur traps, as well. The animals destined for fur coats, the lining of boots and other fashion accessories include raccoon dogs, rabbits, foxes, mink, chinchillas and more. They are kept in wire cages until they face their death through a variety of means chosen to avoid damaging their valuable fur, including gas chambers and neck breaking.
Real vs. Faux
Despite fur’s luxurious reputation, many people are turning their backs on it. For ethical and environmental reasons, fur’s reputation is quickly diminishing, which increases the demand for faux fur. Purchasing faux fur is easier said than done, though. For a variety of reasons, real fur is often mislabeled as faux.
A 2013 NYT Article discussed this phenomenon in relation to legal action against Neiman Marcus, DrJays.com and Eminent, all of whom eventually settled with the Federal Trade Commission due to their mislabeling of fur. They all avoided fines. Fur was also mislabeled as faux on handbags at Kohl’s in 2013. In 2014, Neiman Marcus was once again guilty of labeling real fur as faux. This deception can make purchasing a cruelty-free faux fur product tricky at best and downright terrifying at worst. Luckily, there is a light at the end of the faux fur lined tunnel.
Who Can You Trust?
The fur industry is frustrating enough without having to become a scientist or send your coat to a lab in order to avoid accidentally purchasing real fur when the labeling purports that it’s fake. Some people abstain from anything resembling fur in order to avoid confusion for themselves and others, but abstinence is not essential for the cruelty-free fashionista.
The Humane Society offers a lengthy list of trustworthy faux fur companies as well as do it yourself tests to determine if your fur is indeed faux. These tests include the following:
- Check for the material at the base of the fur. If it’s clearly fabric then you’re good to go.
- Check the tips of the fur to see if they are tapered. If so, then your fur is from a dead animal and doesn’t belong to you.
- Burn a few hairs from the questionable garment. If it smells like human hair burning, then it’s real fur.
Instead of putting yourself through all this work, though, you can just shop at trustworthy stores! One option is Spirithoods, which offers a wide variety of faux fur hooded scarves representing different animals. This company also give a percentage of its proceeds to animal-related nonprofits, so you can feel great keeping warm with their products. Another great source for cruelty-free fur apparel is Imposter4Animals. This company offers a huge variety of faux fur winter gear, including hats and coats that could fool the most discerning fan of fur. These are only a few options that will keep you looking fabulous and cruelty-free, because nothing is more luxurious than that.
Image source: Imgur