Many of us are under the impression that wearing fur is a thing of the past. Public opinion of the fur industry is still very negative, and most people are at least partially aware of the suffering endured by animals who are killed for their fur. Some people don’t even realise that it’s still legal to sell real fur.
This, combined with fur’s reputation as an expensive luxury item, should have been enough to extinguish the demand for good. But sadly, the fur industry has found another way in.
I recently took part in a demo at a Christmas market where fur was being sold. We talked to people and handed out leaflets educating them about how to spot real fur. Many people said they would never buy it. But these days, the main problem is that people may do so without even realising.
That’s because real fur is now often sold as faux. Most people just assume the fur they buy is fake, but this is not always the case.
But why would anyone bother selling real fur as fake? Wouldn’t it make more sense just to use faux fur in the first place?
Unfortunately, the lack of regulation in the fur industry means it can sometimes be cheaper to use real fur than faux. For instance, animals are locked in tiny cages and killed using cheap methods such as anal electrocution and suffocation. Watch this video if you aren’t aware of the cruelty of the fur industry. Be warned: the footage is distressing.
What to look out for
Fur is most commonly used for trim or accessories. For example, the brand Canada Goose has come under fire for using real fur trim on its coats. Additionally, hats with fur bobbles – which first became popular last winter – often use real fur.
But what if it’s a by-product?
When I took part in the demo last week, the stallholder and market organisers repeatedly insisted that the fur used was a by-product of the meat industry.
I’ve written a whole post on why using animal by-products is not ethical. Briefly, buying these products puts money back into the industries which kill and mistreat animals. This ensures that it remains profitable for them to do so. Indeed, these industries sometimes depend on so-called by-products to make a profit in the first place.
That aside, the vast majority of fur is unlikely to be a by-product. Fur almost always comes from animals killed specifically for their fur. The stallholder who claimed he only sold by-products had some items which looked suspiciously like angora. Angora rabbits are only used for their fur, which is ripped out of their bodies whilst they are still alive.
Another problem is that fur is produced in places like China, where it is often mislabelled. Even cat and dog fur has been found in the UK, being sold as fake. The stallholder at the market probably had no way of knowing the origins of his ‘by-products’. The market organisers, meanwhile, had taken his word for it that the products were ‘ethical’.
How can I tell if I’m buying real fur?
Fortunately, there are a few simple checks you can make to ensure you don’t buy real fur.
- Check if the hairs taper (become narrower) at the end. Real fur tapers – faux does not.
- Part the fur and look at the base. If it’s on a textile mesh, it’s fake. If it looks like skin, it’s probably real.
- Singe the fur. If it smells like burning hair, it’s real. If it smells like burning plastic, it’s fake.
Be aware – always make sure you know what you’re buying. There’s no need to hurt animals to stay warm this Christmas.
Why the focus on fur?
Some question why animal rights activists focus so much on fur when other products like leather are just as cruel. The answer is that the general public already understands why fur is unethical. When it comes to meat, leather, wool and so on, people often have misconceptions that they are necessary, natural, or by-products.
What’s worrying is that fur, once widely shunned, seems to be creeping back into acceptability. As activists, we need to shut this down. What hope do we have of persuading people to give up meat if they aren’t even prepared to boycott something they know is both cruel and unnecessary?
I hope this post answers any questions you may have about fur. Please share it around to raise awareness, and leave a comment if you have any further questions. And remember to be kind to animals this Christmas!