Few items signal decadence and glamour like fur. During Hollywood's golden age, starlets like Rita Hayworth, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, and Audrey Hepburn wore fur coats and stoles. Nothing says decadent glamour like fur. Fox furs, like the one I'm wearing (secondhand from Milk & Ice Vintage), gained popularity in the 1930s and held on until the 1950s. It should be acknowledged that one reason fur was so popular back then is because cars and trains were still unheated. People just threw on the warmest thing they could afford and wore that when driving.
I know that fur is a polarizing topic. People have very strong feelings about it (including me) and I am well aware that of the atrocities of the fur industry.
"It’s time to have a more nuanced conversation about the material, one that goes beyond simply FOR (or at least, “okay with”) or AGAINST, and acknowledges the ethical nuances involved. Yes, some aspects of the fur industry are absolutely horrific; living creatures suffer miserably for the greed of others. But the ugly truth is that this applies not only to fur, but to myriad other materials in the apparel industry—and sometimes those creatures suffering are human workers." (Source)
Still, old, used fur coats have endured and continue to show up in vintage stores as people's grandmothers pass away. What do you do with them? One could say that secondhand fur is more environmentally friendly than the modern fur industry since they are repurposing old furs rather than killing living animals. In fact, one could make the argument that wearing secondhand fur is so much less detrimental to the environment and to the people who carry out the work than buying a new coat from your favorite fast fashion retailer. I also understand that it perpetuates the fur-as-fashion-trend as a whole because when you wear it, people can't tell whether it's brand new or if you bought it secondhand or inherited it from older relative.
I'm not a vegan or a vegetarian. I eat meat and many of my bags, shoes and belts are made of leather. Why is wearing fur so much more offensive than eating a burger or wearing a leather jacket? Is it because one is considered a luxury item and has a glamour aspect to it?
"Unless you live your life without using any animal products, and you don’t wear leather shoes or a leather belt, and you don’t eat meat, you’re always a hypocrite, and there is no gray." (Rachel Poliquin, the author of The Breathless Zoo: Taxidermy and the Cultures of Longing.)
"That’s exactly the point of buying vintage fur and leather, vintage dealers say. You aren’t buying any new cheap animal products from Asia, which is so far removed from the United States, you’ll never know how the animals are used or treated. And vintage fur can give you that Old Hollywood luxury, while saving you thousands of dollars." (Jezebel)
If you come across a vintage fur by inheritance, like many people nowadays, there are options if you don't want to wear it. Blogger Samantha Davis details several ways to recycle furs, including programs that give furs to homeless people in cold climates, turn furs into teddy bears for mothers staying at shelters, and use furs for education and period re-creation.
The Coats for Cubs program, started by the Humane Society of the United States and run by Buffalo Exchange, takes furs every winter, starting mid-January and running until Earth Day, April 22. These old furs are fashioned into beds for orphaned wildlife, who associate the texture with their lost mothers. For orphaned wildlife, they’ve found that the donated furs are particularly effective in lending comfort and giving the feel of a missing maternal figure.
You can also can send your furs to In Defense of Animals. They have a fur amnesty program where people can send in their unwanted furs for a tax deduction. The furs are then used in educational displays, protests, and donated to wildlife rehabilitation centers.
To read more, check out this article: "There's Actually A Way To Feel Good About Wearing Fur."
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