Fur against Faux Fur: Two sides of the same beast?

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As Fashion Week runway shows dance through our heads, and faux fur continues to show up again and again, we wanted to know–what is this stuff?  In the conscious world (and maybe a budgeted one too), faux fur has gained a following for having the look without the harm.  But maybe we need to take a deeper look before grabbing the faux-ternative.

Fur, no doubt, is the warmest material on the market and for centuries has always been a symbol of status rank, royalty, and wealth.  When cared for properly can last a long time, and even can be re-purposed. Yet, there is the horrific treatment of animals, cue Woody Harelson’s video for Human Society of US, and hold your pet close.  Famous celebrities like Bridget Bardot, Charlize Theron and Pamela Anderson, have been loud advocates against fur, and PETA’s famous campaign “I’d rather go naked” was on billboards around the world.

Faux fur, or fish fur as some like to call it, has been dubbed an animal friendly alternative to real fur.  It possesses an unmistakeable resemblance to fur without the animal cruelty invisibly intertwined.

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Fur’s doppelganger has been around since the Great Depression (and as economists compare our current situation to then, maybe its no surprise we are seeing the rebirth of faux fur).  Made of fine acrylic fibers and modacrylic polymers derived from oil based products like coal, petroleum (plastic, basically) these materials take a loonnng time to break down (anywhere from 500 to 1,000 years), and manufacturing these non-renewable resources produces unhealthy chemical waste and emissions. Faux fur can’t be recycled or reused because of its heat sensitivity. And it’s ingredients of synthetic materials doesn’t let your skin breathe, trapping in those yucky chemicals with it.

It’s one things to take a stand against animal products in your clothing, but if faux fur is your alternative, isn’t that like being a vegetarian and eating tofurky? Is the faux version all together better? And if you are anti-fur, why do you still want the look?

There is no attempt to take sides, it is ultimately the wearers choice.  But if there are so many pollutants attached to faux fur maybe we should skip the fur look altogether and support something all around more sustainable, or if it’s your thing, just go naked.

photo credit Chris Nicholls

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