‘Anti-fur hypocrites!’ claim fashionistas

Masked up: Campaign group LCA says 50 million animals are killed for fur each year. © PA

Animal rights campaigners employed some eye-catching tactics to protest against the use of fur at the leading fashion shows. Is it wrong to farm and kill animals to make opulent clothing?

In the bracing February air, three models stood in Soho, London, wearing nothing but underwear, masking tape and gas masks. They held signs which read: ‘Fur is toxic’. Jacqueline Joyce, one of the models, said ‘I want to urge kind people to choose fur-free clothing for the sake of their own health and animal welfare’.

They had come to Fashion Week to protest. ‘There is nothing stylish or creative about fur. Respected designers… don’t pretend to be edgy by using a taboo material — their designs generate attention for all the right reasons’ said Elisa Allen, a leading campaigner who works for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta); they claim fur is ‘laden with chemicals that are dangerous to people who wear it’.

Protesters say fur is ‘on the way out’: a poll in 2011 suggested that 95% of British women would not wear real fur, and last year 80% of designers at London Fashion Week did not use it in their collections.

But this year the tables were comprehensively turned. Fur was everywhere to be seen.

In the last three months, the number of real fur products released into the fashion market was 117% higher than at the same point last year, according to a recent report.

And at men’s fashion weeks in London, Milan and Paris in January, 60% of designers used fur in their collections.

Farming luxurious furs for fashion became illegal in the UK in 2000, but it still takes place in other parts of Europe and much of the rest of the world.

Protesters say animals living in factory farms endure ‘painful and short lives’ and account for 85% of the skins used in the industry worldwide.

Animals commonly killed for their fur include mink, beavers and foxes.

Designers say their products are ethically sourced. The Lilly e Violetta brand, favoured by Madonna and Kendall Jenner, uses lots of fur and states: ‘After many years of undue concerns about furs, our origin-assured products offer confidence to all women out there that are looking for keeping warm in style.’

Fur-ious

The fur industry is immoral, say some. Rich people have no right to glamorize the cruel deaths of innocent animals and plunder a natural resource. Moreover there is no need to spend vast sums of money on fur when modern clothing manufacture is perfectly adequate. It is sickening to see animals suffer and die for human opulence and extravagance.

That is overly judgmental, respond others. Most opposition to the fur industry is from inconsistent people willing to see animals killed so that they can eat meat and wear leather. Anti-fur sentiment is driven by jealous snobbery against those freely exercising their own choice to spend their money on looking good or keeping warm in fur.

You Decide

  1. Would you wear fur?
  2. Is it reasonable for someone who eats meat or wears leather to object to the fur industry?

Activities

  1. Draw a poster, either campaigning against fur or advertising the fur on display at London Fashion Week.
  2. Write a one-minute sketch, in which an anti-fur protester meets a fashion designer who uses fur.

Some People Say...

“No animal should die for the benefit of humans.”

What do you think?

Q & A

Doesn’t this just affect rich people?
Few people are involved in the top echelons of the fashion industry, or wear the clothes on display at London Fashion Week. But they set a standard which affects the clothes worn by many more of us — so if certain trends are considered fashionable, they will often have some impact on buyers and designers in High Street shops. The debate over fur also reflects wider attitudes towards animals and international trade, often between countries which have very different ethical standards.
Does fake fur have a better reputation?
Many people seem to consider the distinction crucial: 93% of those polled by TNS in 2011 said fur products should be clearly labelled as real or fake. More than half also said they would only buy one if it was labelled as fake.

Word Watch

Underwear
Anti-fur protesters commonly use nudity as a tactic and say they would ‘rather go naked than wear fur’.
Toxic
A recent study in Germany said potentially carcinogenic (cancer-causing) chemicals were being used to treat fur clothing.
Designers
Peta named Stella McCartney and Vivienne Westwood as examples of those shunning fur, alongside Vika Gazinskaya, whom they called a ‘fresh emerging talent’.
Poll
This was carried out by research agency TNS, on behalf of animal welfare charity the RSPCA.
Last month
London Fashion Week takes place twice per year. Autumn and winter ranges were displayed in February; spring and summer collections will be shown in September.
Report
This was by retail analysts Edited.
Luxurious
For example, a mink tennis ball charm, designed by Anya Hindmarch to be attached to handbags, is currently on sale for £495.
Factory farms
Large farms which process many animals rapidly.
Leather
This is mainly a byproduct of the meat industry. But animal welfare campaigners say leather encourages more animals to be farmed and killed as it is particularly profitable.

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