As we prepare for the next cold season, the fashion debate on natural fur versus faux is heating up. Lynn Yaeger in her Vogue.com featured article: 7 Designers on the Future of Fur in Fashion finds an evenly spread field of global fashion names, who are either for or against.
Donatella Versace is very clear in her anti-fur stance that she doesn’t want animals to be farmed for fashion. On the other side Silvia Fendi describes fur as the most natural material that exists. So, where does the debate go from here? Yaeger says let the fashion designers at the forefront of the discussion speak for themselves.
Danish designer and Saga Furs collaborator Astrid Andersen, is for fur, particularly as an antidote for what she describes as the industry’s biggest problem – fast fashion. “The Nordic mentality has always been about sustainability—we have a strong history of buying less and buying better. For me, fur is the most sustainable material you can work with—my mom still has the fur coat she bought 25 years ago.”
Michael Kors, on the other hand is a proponent of faux fur: “There have been so many wonderful technological advances in materials that give me the ability to create luxurious items using non-animal fur without giving up style and quality,” says Kors, describing today’s generation as more curious than previous generations, and more open to embracing change.
Yves Salomon, however, takes aim at fake fur as a source of plastic pollution: “The biggest issue facing the planet today is plastic, which I think is far more important than the debate over fur.” Salamon, who has been working on a new upcycled fur fashion line, using only unsold materials adds: “Luxury is natural—the difference between real and faux fur is immediately obvious when you put them next to each other.”
“Then again,” says Olivier Rousteing, of Balmain, who recently made the decision to not use fur, “if you don’t want to wear real fur, maybe you won’t be interested in faux fur, either.”
However, Kym Canter, founder of House of Fluff, cites big opportunities for innovation with faux fur. “Young people today do not see real fur as a status symbol—they define luxury as innovation and sustainability,” says Canter, who is now working on a bio-based faux fur with for autumn and has also created a faux fur made from 100 percent recycled ocean plastics.
Fendi talks about transparency and the importance of understanding the source of materials used. “Just as you want to see, for example, how the chickens who produce your eggs are treated, you want to see where the fur comes from. I believe in total transparency—for every material we use, we have a certificate that you can trace.”
Fendi also stresses freedom of choice. “Where do you stop?” she asks. “Do you stop using fur but still wear leather and eat meat?”
“Some chic women, insist that from now on, they will wear only vintage fur,” writes Yaeger. “Others say they won’t go near any fur at all. But still others cling defiantly to their mink trench, their sable shrug, their fox poncho—arguing that fur is warm and gorgeous, and among the most sustainable materials on Earth.”
Anderson believes it is an emotional conversation that needs to be continued. It’s also anything but black and white. “There are nuances,” Anderson says, for example: “Why is it that I can talk to a vegetarian and maybe be inspired, and there isn’t a bucket of red paint involved?”