Talking about fur—the pelts of animals used for clothing such as coats, hats, and mittens—makes many understandably squeamish. There’s no denying the material’s origins: Fur was once the skin of a living creature. So it stands to reason that some people can't abide its use, just as some abstain from meat, milk, or any other animal by-products. Its detractors are passionate, and good at sharing photos, videos, and reports that highlight the ugliest aspects of the industry.
But regardless of public sentiment, fur's popularity only seems to be increasing. Between 2008 and 2013, global fur exports more than doubled, from $2 billion to more than $4 billion, according to data from the International Trade Centre, a joint agency of the United Nations and the World Trade Organization.
World fur Exports
At the fall/winter 2015 fashion shows (currently underway in Paris), fur has appeared in aquamarine overcoats, Chewbacca-style slippers, and packs of plush fox collars. Karl Lagerfeld recently announced a new fur-centric show for Fendi.
With all this in mind, it might be time to have a more thoughtful conversation about the material, one that goes beyond simply for (or at least, “okay with”) or against, and acknowledges the ethical nuanced involved. Yes, some aspects of the fur industry are absolutely horrific; living creatures suffer miserably for the benefit 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 the creatures suffering are human workers.