Fur - let's not conflate the issues

February 19, 2015

Fur - let's not conflate the issues

If you appreciate quality, performance and longevity then fur is a material that should appeal to you.  Quality and performance: it is one of the best insulators on the planet, it bounces back after rain or snow and being a natural fiber it doesn’t make your hair static or set fire when you get too close to a heater.  
And in this fast fashion world, it is refreshingly long-lasting: it can last 100 years and be re-cut to update a design.

But of course fur is a controversial material and conscientious consumers have valid concerns about its production.  Being someone who speaks to a lot of consumers, I have found that a number of key issues are often conflated.

I find it helpful to try to strip it down to the underlying topics, which are these as I see it:

1) Ethical concerns

The downright should you or shouldn’t you use animal products.  Or should you only use certain types of animal products, e.g. meat but not fur.  Or do you find it acceptable to use all types of animal products but only where the primary reason for raising the animal was for food, not the other way around.  Is this because meat is a requirement for human health?  One thing’s for certain, nobody has exactly the same take on this.

2) Animal welfare

Regardless of where you draw the line ethically, what are the minimum standards of animal welfare you demand?  How is this different for wild fur (e.g. coyote) and farmed fur (e.g. mink)?  

3) Traceability and trust

Rendering both points above redundant without it, there must be robust traceability to prove that the provenance of what you are buying.  What information do you need in order to trust the product in your hand?  My next blog post is on this topic.

4) Environmental standards

What is the impact of the fur product on the environment? e.g. for wild fur, was it harvested from a healthy population; for farmed fur, how was waste disposal managed?  Going one step further than primary production, we should also consider the environmental impact of preserving and tanning the fur.  And finally, the environmental impact of manufacturing and transporting the final garment.

5) Social standards

What are the working conditions for those working in primary production (of the fur) and manufacturing (of the garment)?

This is one way of separating our the issues, what do you think? Please get in touch at sales@thetallis.com



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