Can fur ever be ethical?
Faustine Steinmetz AW16
The fashion industry isn’t known for its compassion. But new generations might be changing all that. Recently some of our favourite up and coming designers spoke out about the need for new and emerging labels to be cruelty free pioneers. Molly Goddard, Faustine Steinmetz, Marta Jakubowski, Hannah Weiland and Shrimps, penned a letter with animal cruelty charity PETA asking Central Saint Martins students not to use fur. The central message is: “as future fashion designers, students at Central Saint Martins have a unique opportunity to influence the next generation of consumers by embracing the trend towards cruelty-free fashion.” We happened to read this at the same time as an article promoting ‘ethical fur,’ so we thought we’d look into it.
Hannah Weiland from Shrimps (Image: Guardian)
What is Origin Assured?
The idea of ethical fur has been made official by the ‘Origin Assured’ mark, which was created by the International Fur Federation and other big players in the fur industry, including Saga Furs and Kopenhagen Fur. It was this mark that encouraged Harvey Nicholls to begin stocking fur again after decades of being fur free. But what does it mean?
There’s no such thing as ethical fur
Unfortunately, from what we can tell, 'Origin Assured' fur simply means that you know which animal the fur has come from. But the animals that are killed to create the Origin Assured garments are still gassed, skinned alive, drowned or electrocuted after being abused, neglected and living in the kinds of conditions that will thoroughly put you off your cronut. Fur farming is a commercial industry, intensely focused producing a quality pelt and sadly that requires little or no consideration of animal welfare or humane slaughter (if there is such a thing). It's all very unpleasant.
Fur is so over
So, it seems ‘Origin Assured’ is just a clever marketing tactic and not a genuinely positive contribution to ethical luxury fashion. We know it’s difficult to buy cruelty free – sometimes you just have no idea what the process was behind something you’ve bought. We’ve been there too, and that has made us feel a bit sick and pretty stupid. We also have budget constraints like you. However, increasingly, there is a choice for fashion - and it doesn’t involve dressing like a 1990s student or paying an extortionate price for a cruelty free coat.
Shrimps AW16 faux fur
The real innovators don't use fur
The Glass Pineapple loves innovative style and designers pioneering new fabrics and we know that you don’t have to look far for labels that can give you all the glamour and cosy without the cruelty. All the designers named in the PETA letter are fur free, as are big names like Stella McCartney and Vivienne Westwood. So, there is another choice. From the fur trim on your hood, to the pom poms on your bag charm or the fabric of a floor sweeping coat, none of it has to come from the back of a living creature.
McQ Alexander McQueen faux fur jacket
The power of choice
While we were researching this piece we learned a valuable lesson ourselves – all too often, when we're making a purchase, we just don’t ask where something has come from. Worryingly, we learned that some garments that claim to be faux fur are actually decked out with real animal, thanks to the mass production in Chinese fur farms that has made it cheaper than faux. It's a horrible thought that we might unwittingly be supporting this kind of cruelty. But now there’s a whole movement pushing the idea of accountability – who made my clothes? Was this ethically produced? Is it real fur or genuine faux? We’re in an era of growing consumer power and that’s an exciting thing in fashion. You may feel like you’re not in control but – via what you spend money on - you’ve got the power to choose.
MSGM Faux fur sandals
Marta Jakubowski AW16