Sustainable style

Is wearing second-hand fur a faux pas?

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I’d like to bring up a topic of discussion that I’ve been meaning to post about for quite some time now. Yes, gasp, I procrastinate all right!?

Fur, to wear or not to wear. As someone who writes about and promotes sustainable and ethical fashion, I have often asked myself whether or not I should really be wearing my second-hand fur pieces. As some argue, it could promote wearing fur to others which might lead to consumers buying new fur, which I certainly don’t want to do.

I agree that the fur industry is terribly cruel, for the most part, and that live skinning of animals is far more prevalent than we’d like to think. Believe me, I have seen my fair share of PETA videos that leave me feeling ill and terribly ashamed at my fellow man. I do eat meat, but I try my best to only eat locally farmed, free-range meat, a.k.a. meat from happy animals who were treated with respect in life and in death. I would never kill an animal just for its fur, so I would never buy new fur. But I would kill an animal for food if I had to, so I figure I can eat meat, although in small quantities for environmental and health reasons.

It’s true that wearing fur might attract attention and inspire others to wear fur, but not many people can afford new fur and I’d like to give the average person enough credit that they would know that buying new fur is directly supporting an industry rife with animal cruelty, not to mention human labour violations. I don’t think many people would skin animals alive if they had the choice.

So I wear my fur hat and my vintage leather coat with fur trim, weather permitting, in full confidence that those who admire it think to buy second-hand fur if any at all. How often do you actually go out and buy something you saw on someone else?

I’ve had several people stop me to admire my second-hand beaver hat. They give it a pat, smile, and are pleasantly surprised to hear it’s second-hand. I have never had anyone give me ugly looks, but I live in a city with cold winters so maybe this population is more accustomed to wearing fur. Who knows.

Am I just making up excuses so I can wear my fur? No, I’m providing arguments in support of buying second-hand or vintage fur. If it isn’t second-hand, don’t buy it. I don’t think that those poor animals who were killed however many years ago for their fur should have their sacrifice go to waste by just throwing their furs away in a landfill. I believe in recycling everything that you can, including fur, leather, wool, etc. There is a wonderful company in Quebec called Harricana that has been recycling fur into new coats, vests, hats and other accessories since 1994. There is so much second-hand fur around the world and turning it into new garments is a great way of extending its use.

Is there something luxurious about wearing fur? Yes. It’s costly and is equated with wealth and prestige. Is this why I buy it? Well, I’ll admit, it is luxurious, but I just like the look of it. I buy second-hand fur because A: it’s warm and winter temperatures here can fall below minus 30 degrees celsius, B: I’m happy to support second-hand businesses, C: I’m keeping fur items out of landfills and D: it’s more environmentally friendly to buy second-hand fur to keep warm than to buy faux fur. The process of making faux fur involves highly toxic chemicals and is incredibly harmful to the environment. I admire designers who switch to faux fur for their labels, but I ask that they take it a step further and source second-hand fur. There are so many fur coats and vests on racks in stores such as Value Village, I’m sure they could do very well using it.

So there you have it. I’m not going to throw my coat and fur hats out the door. They were made a long time ago and I like wearing second-hand clothing. I like recycling and I like style. I’m certainly not about to go support a fur industry that kills innocent animals for fashion. And I caution anyone who is considering it to think twice and watch a few PETA videos to really understand the impact of their choice.

For more discussions about second-hand fur, I highly recommend you read the following articles:

Is it OK to buy second-hand fur – Hello Giggles

Vintage fur right or wrong – Timeout London

The Humane Society responds to ‘Why I wear fur’ – The Huffington Post

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Harricana

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Vintage fur coat.

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Vintage fur and leather coat.

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