Last Monday on BBC’s Fake Britain, Matt Allwright investigated the shops selling faux fur trimmed gloves and coats that actually turned out to be real animal fur. Not cool.
Faux Faux Fur
On the show originally aired last December, Dr Phil Greaves identified misleadingly labelled fur as belonging to minks, weasels, raccoon dogs, rabbits, and foxes. Sadly, this isn’t the first time it’s happened either. Claire Bass from the Humane Society made it clear that “every year hundreds of millions of animals are killed in the fur industry. Many of these animals will have led pitiful existences, in tiny wire cages barely bigger than themselves.” Luckily, the members of the public were well-informed about the fur industry, and showed their disgust and outrage at being duped by these well-known shops.
This total breach of trust makes it clear that fur is not yet a thing of the past on our high streets. Shoppers still need to be vigilant in checking the material themselves before purchasing (Remember: Real fur has hairs that taper off at the end into a point, and are attached to skin. Faux fur hairs don’t taper (see above), and are attached to fabric). Luckily, Trading Standards are on the case, saying that now this has been brought to their attention, they’re going to further investigate the faux fur on the market. Hopefully this will jumpstart other retailers to check and double check their supply chain to ensure they aren’t contributing to animal cruelty.
Of course, the supply chain is often where ethical principles get lost. Both of the two retailers in question had strict no-fur policies already in place, but were supplied the garments by other vendors or brands who had mislabelled the materials. This is increasingly common. As the Fashion Revolution reports, “the Behind the Barcode report found that out of the 219 biggest fashion brands, only half actually knew what factories their products were made in, and only a quarter of brands knew where things like zippers, buttons, thread and even the fabric came from”. As this issue was given the spotlight on a primetime TV show, hopefully it’ll make it clearer to the public that a brand being familiar is not the same as a brand being trustworthy. If anything good can be said to come of this, it’ll be that more shoppers will start to check the labels and investigate products for themselves, and choose companies that are explicitly designed to be transparent, traceable, ethical and cruelty-free.
We’d all rather go naked than wear fur. Thankfully, alternative faux fur swooped in and saved us from being arrested for indecent exposure (along with all the clothes we already owned). Replica animal materials serve an important purpose in easing the mainstream from cruelty-full to cruelty-free fashion. If a faux fur coat is the spitting image of an animal fur coat in every single way except for the production, then the argument “I just like how it looks” falls flat on its face. Perhaps the end goal will be for fashion to focus on entirely new and unimagined textiles, without replicating any animal materials. In the advent of the commercial use of the 3D printer, this seems to be the likeliest path for fashion. We’ll all be flying around in jetpacks wearing cyber-chic catsuits, if the Jetsons is anything to go by. But in the meantime, persuading those who use fur to go faux is the task at hand. And part of that battle is making sure companies are honest.
Real Faux Fur
If you’re a fan of faux fur, there are places you can really trust, dedicated to avoiding animal cruelty at all costs. We heartily recommend Hoodlamb, a tip top vegan fashion brand selling coats with faux fur trims. For those with a little more dosh to spend, lifelong vegetarian Stella McCartney’s Fur Free Fur coats are made with 100% Modacrylic. Shrimps is a faux fur brand made using carefully sourced fabrics (we mentioned their great success at Autumn Winter 2016 London Fashion Week previously). If you can’t spend that amount of dollar or you’re not in the market for a coat right now, these ethical brands love a little bit of social media love and affection too. Otherwise, you can also keep investigating high street faux fur garments yourself, and tell friends and family to do the same.
So high street retailers need to be more honest, shoppers need to be more on guard, and real faux fur brands need to keep doing what their thang, making gorgeous cruelty-free fashion. The silver lining from this revelation is that all the members of the public interviewed for the show found fur horribly inhumane, so it’s not too far a leap to find leather inhumane as well. Here’s hoping buying real leather will be as shunned as buying real fur in five years time. We’d rather go barefoot than wear leather, but luckily, we can wear Beyond Skin shoes instead.