5.12.09

Fur

Well as the title so blatantly claims, todays post is looking at fur; the ever controversial topic on any fashionistas lips. Me? Well I'm hoping to do a photoshoot for coursework looking into it soon, and I need time to explore and investigate the subject.

On the surface it would seem pretty easy to point the blood stained fingers at the fashion industry for the murder of so many animals, but as with every issue the issue deepens and expands with more research. It is not just a difference between the murder of animals for the clothing of humans, but the fact that women seem to have a contractual love for fur. High-street and recently designer fashion companies have experienced a wealth of products being purchased that used fake fur, suggesting that the public want fur, but don't want the idea of murder on their hands. One could then also consider the ever growing obsession with leopard print, which is religiously worn by both fashion slaves, and your everyday woman.
PETA is an organization that uses photography to express their anti-fur views. They have created a range of pieces ranging from a Playboy magazine style set-up, using the slogan "I'd rather go naked than wear fur", to celebrities holding up animal corpses without their fur, using the slogan "Here's the rest of your fur coat". As a photographer, and media studies student, I can see how the somewhat eclectic mix of vulgar and pornographic photography, and slogans work. First, you see the image and the vulgarity of it, or the pornographic appeal, catch your eye; then the words you read help to anchor the image and give it meaning. Now PETA also campaign for vegetarianism and other animal related issues, and now use art work and photography to put their message across; alot more mature than throwing red paint at catwalk models.
On the other side of the argument, human beings have been using animal furs and skins since before the cave-men era- of course at the time it was a case of wearing it or dying of hypothermia. The furs provided humans with warmth and comfort, and in modern day pieces fur is used for more aesthetic purposes. Skins, however, appear to have not had as big a fight when compared to fur. Leather from cow hides for example, was the making of Gucci, and now accounts for a big percentage of all accessories sales in the fashion industry. Snake skin, ostrich skin, shark skin, alligator skins have all been used for fashion products and yet these don't have as much anti attention as cow leather, or fur. So what is protestors big deal with fur. Well generally it is stripped of live animals which are captured and caged for this bi-product, whereas leathers and skins are often taken after death.
One must then consider the impact of faux fur on the industry. According to Fake and Faux Fur Fabric, faux fur was invented in 1929. Faux fur as we know it really started to come into its own during the 1950s, when polymers were used to create a fake fur. Faux fur sales have overtaken that of real fur, even in the miniscule amount of time it has been around. Faux or fake fur is now used from high end designer labels such as Chanel, trickling down into the cheapest high-street store Primark. But why? Why did we feel that fake fur needed to be invented, if so many people were so against it. Initially, faux fur was created simply because of the high demand for fur. Real fur was simply too hard to find and too expensive for there to not be a faux counterpart. And now it is just another fabric that we have become accustomed to having available.
Although I would never buy real fur myself, I can see how its significance in the fashion industry is important. It has created controversy for the industry as a whole, which has provided opportunities for change and improvement. It has also brought the world a whole new polyfibre, which allows the fur look to be distributed and shared by the masses.

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Look forward to hearing from you. I will reply to all comments that I can. Ellie ♥