As Featured On PETA: The Fur Industry

The Disgusting Truth about the Fur Industry

Imagine: a group of strangers knock down your front door at random to capture you and your family. Not only have they invaded your home, they also have plans of using your hair for a coat, your skin for their shoes, and whatever else they choose for living room decorations. While this gruesome scenario is disturbing and impossible to imagine happening to us Homo sapiens, it’s an everyday reality for our beloved furry friends.

No need to take notes from fictional law professor Annalise Keating — the fur industry gets away with murder every single day. Whether it came from an animal on a fur farm or one that was once trapped in the wild, every fur coat, knick-knack, and fur lining caused an animal horrendous suffering and took away a life. That is the defining prelude to uncovering the horrible truth about the fur industry.

The History of Wearing Fur

The arc of history bends towards progress, but as for the fashion industry, change hasn’t developed fast enough. As recent revelations that Hermes skins live alligators for its bags confirm, animals are being tortured and executed for fashion at an alarming rate. 

So, whose idea was it to associate animal skin with luxury? Which genius decided that human fashion trends were more important that the lives of creatures that couldn’t speak for themselves? For starters, we can blame our ancestors. In the earliest of societies, native hunters believed in “contagious magic,” also known as thImagine: a group of strangers knock down your front door at random to capture you and your family. Not only have they invaded your home, they also have plans of using your hair for a coat, your skin for their shoes, and whatever else they choose for living room decorations. While this gruesome scenario is disturbing and impossible to imagine happening to us Homo sapiens, it’s an everyday reality for our beloved furry friends.

No need to take notes from fictional law professor Annalise Keating — the fur industry gets away with murder every single day. Whether it came from an animal on a fur farm or one that was once trapped in the wild, every fur coat, knick-knack, and fur lining caused an animal horrendous suffering and took away a life. That is the defining prelude to uncovering the horrible truth about the fur industry.

e transference of strength, power, courage, skills, and prowess from an animal to a human being. Yes, the original purpose for skinning animals was sort of admirable, but just like anything else that becomes “trendy” over time, love of money corrupted a noble origin.

As early as the 11th century, fur became a symbol of wealth and social status rather than a need for warmth. European royalty wore fur coats, fur capes, and fur accessories on a regular basis, pulling from (yes, literally) mink, sable, and chinchilla fur. By the 1300s, fur became such a hot commodity that laws were introduced to regulate which social classes were allowed to wear which types of furs. As a result, the late Victorian age witnessed a crazy rise in demand for mink furs and exotic leathers. In the process, every animal imaginable was skinned for its fur, including badgers, skunks, wolves, polecats, squirrels, musk ox, monkeys, raccoons, wombats, wallabies, tigers, leopards, and even hamsters and house cats.

In the last century, a more conscious collective of people have realized the detriment the fur industry inflicts on the world’s animals. In response, animal lovers, vegans, and environmentalists began organizing and launching repeated, aggressive and shock-oriented campaigns against the fashion industry.

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Today’s Fur Industry

Fashion has always had an interest in fur, and the ramifications are a little scary. Fur production has always involved animal cruelty, not to mention environmentally harmful processes. Its mounting presence in the luxury market simply doesn’t mesh with the current emphasis on social and ecological awareness, so how is fur making a comeback?

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For about thirty years, the sales of animal skins plunged — until this past decade. Furs and exotic skins are now clawing back with deceptive rebranding to target young fashionistas. In 2011, fur sales were worth £9 billion, a rise of more than 70 percent in a decade, leading to over 50 million animals slaughtered on fur farms. So yes, to answer your burning question, fur is once again mainstream fashion. In 2014, 70 percent of New York and British fashion week shows incorporated fur into their collections.

Of course, fur’s resurfaced popularity doesn’t change the facts. The number of animals we’ve tortured is disturbing, and the conditions in which they’re kept are even worse. According to an Animal Ethics chart, at least 50 million mink pelts are produced at fur farms annually worldwide, up from about 30 million produced annually around 2000.

Unfortunately, there are no penalties for animal abuse on farms in many countries, and no standards to regulate the treatment of the animals. Since the early 2000's, the number of foxes farmed for their fur has increased considerably due to a lack of animal rights all over the globe. China, for instance, was forecast to hold 25 million farmed foxes in 2010 and source 90 percent of the world’s angora (GAIN Report Number: CH10031, Foreign Agricultural Service, USDA). Is killing a billion animals a year really worth the luxury of mink rugs, fur coats, and leather couches?

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Living Fur-Free

The human race can be selfish and overbearing at times, but the decision to harm animals in the name of luxury comes at a price. Not only do fur farms and animal cruelty violate animals’ rights, they also have a negative impact on our environment. To keep animal skin from rotting after it’s removed, fur farmers douse the pelts with toxic chemicals that eventually make their way into our water sources.

According to The Fur Free Alliance, environmentally harmful products like chromium and formaldehyde are used in the processing of real fur garments to keep them from rotting, which has led many fur farmers and processors to be fined for releasing toxic waste into the environment. Those chemicals remain in fur once it’s sold and create a toxin that can be absorbed by our bodies and harbored for up to 20 years. Studies done in Italy, The Netherlands and Germany have uncovered dangerous amounts of toxic substances in fur trims in children’s fashion wear by brands such as D&G, Woolrich, Canada Goose, and Nickelson.

As a result of a long list of drawbacks, more and more retailers and designers are adopting fur-free policies.  Top fashion retailers from Stella Mc Cartney, H&M to Zara and Helly Hansen have made commitments to promoting cruelty-free fashion. If you’re concerned about making a difference, there are tons of ways to contribute to the cause. Thanks to the Humane Society and the wonders of the Internet, we can browse a list of organizations who’ve made public vows against using animal fur.

Faux-Fur Alternatives

First introduced in 1929, advances in polymer technology have allowed fur-lovers with a conscience to indulge without sacrificing animal lives. It is known as a pile fabric and is typically made from polymeric fibers that are processed, dyed, and cut to match a specific fur texture and color; today's fake furs are nearly indistinguishable from the natural furs they imitate.

Just in case the previous gut-wrenching facts on animal cruelty didn’t steer you away from the idea of wearing animal fur, here are five reasons to buy faux fur alternatives:

  1. It’s allergy free. One great thing about faux fur is the “faux” quality. No need to worry about watery eyes or sneezing your brains out all day. Not to mention, faux fur is a lot less itchy on the skin. Faux fur also doesn’t collect those pesky dust particles that float into your eyes.
  2. It’s cheaper. Even if you aren’t an animal lover, choosing faux fur over the shameful real-deal will save you a pretty penny.
  3. It’s odor free. Just because you want to walk around in an elegant mink coat doesn’t mean you have to smell like one all day.
  4. Being conservative is trendy. From minimalists to vegans, people all over the world are realizing today’s need to keep things simple and humane. Now more than ever, the fashion industry has the potential to shift from over-the-top to just enough. Top designers are starting to use faux fur on the runway, and some design companies are using wool alternatives!
  5. You can’t tell the difference. Technological advancements in the past ten years have improved the quality immensely. So at this point, purchasing real fur is simply harming animals for no reason!

So! Enough with the fur already… ok?? Take a look at this fabulous diva doggie donning a vegan fur alternative. It's sure to make you smile: