Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Wearing Fur: Do you?

This past week it was reported that the city of West Hollywood has banned the sale of fur. It was a controversial decision with strong opinions on both sides.  The ban will not go into effect until September 2013, giving retailers time to clear off their shelves.  And the American fur lobby that, ironically is based in West Hollywood, could still find a loophole.  But this got me thinking about the fur I have in my closet.

A vintage wardrobe would not be complete without at least one fur collar.  Admittedly, I love my vintage pieces.  But what is the fur industry like today?

I was surprised to find that Wisconsin ranks #1 in mink farming in the US.  The Fur Commission which regulates the US fur trade, states that mink is the most common animal farmed for its fur, followed by fox, chinchilla, sable and raccoon.  In 2010 the US produced 2.83 million mink pelts at an average price of $65.10 each (source).  Even with that impressive number, the US ranks fifth in production behind Denmark, China,the Netherlands and Poland which combined produced 50 million pelts in 2010 (source).  Further reading on this site and that of the International Fur Trade Federation, tell of an industry that is highly regulated and responsible.

On the other side of the issue is PETA.  They tell a very different story.  It's hard to get through their site.  They speak of incomprehensible cruelty.  Countries such as Austria, Croatia and the United Kingdom have banned fur farms completely, while Switzerland imposes such strict regulations that there simply aren't any farms. Several other countries have pending legislation that will phase out fur farming over the coming years.  By all accounts China seems to be the worst offender in cases of animal cruelty.  No surprise then they are also the largest producer. China is implementing training courses for farmers and stricter laws (source), but it will be years before practices in the field are adjusted accordingly.

mink collar
I believe that both sides of the debate are exaggerating their situations.  PETA is known to highlight the worst case scenarios.  If in fact the animals were confined, starved, diseased and abused to the degree that they claim, there would be no fur to harvest.  A sick animal will not produce a good pelt. 

rabbit collar
On the other hand, the mink farmers are in the business to make a profit.  They'll cut corners where they can. 

At the end of the day, each of us must make a decision that we can live with.  I choose to wear vintage fur and will continue to do so.  But I would probably not buy new fur unless I could be 100% sure of the origin, given the wide range of practices.  And with several countries outlawing farms and cities banning the sale, perhaps vintage fur will soon be the only option.  Although faux fur is increasing in popularity and should not be overlooked.  It isn't as warm as real fur, but can be just as gorgeous for decorative purposes. 

I'd love for you all to weigh in on this.  Do you own fur?  Do you wear it?  Or does the whole idea turn your stomach?


  1. You made some excellent points. Did you know that Hamburg, WI (Marathon Co.) had a huge silver fox farm - largest in the world - Fromme Farm. In their day...they had an international auction house on site. Really interesting Wisconsin history. I recently "bought out" contents from an old farm that was a mink farm. I did get a cute black vintage sweater dress with a white mink collar - super cute! I don't like inhumane treatment of ANY animals - who does. However, unfair regulations in the US make it hard for ALL types of farming - fur included. Like the point about PETA's inabliity to disclose their information. Good post!

  2. I'm ok with wearing fur as long as I know it's vintage. I'm A HUGE animal lover, and hate the awful things they have to go through so we humans can wear fur. But animal extremists always just think in one direction. Last winter, for example, some of these extremists released all the minks in a mink farm here in Sweden, where I live. All these minks then died because they were either run over by cars on a nearby freeway, starved to death (because they had never been taught how to get their own food), or froze to death. Isn't THAT animal cruelty?! If everyone who were looking for fur, bought vintage fur, no new animals would have to die! That's MY opinion!

  3. I wear fur. Currently only a rabbit lined hat but I do look for vintage fur.

  4. Just purchased a mink collar at Goodwill today for $1.99! Now I need to find something to attach it to.