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Fall’s hottest trend? Hint: It’s not fur

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By Paula Moore

Folks in West Hollywood, California, are well known for their support of forward-looking legislation, so it didn’t come as any surprise when the WeHo City Council unanimously voted to ban sales of apparel made from animal fur last month. If the ordinance gets final approval, West Hollywood will become the first city in the U.S. that’s officially fur-free.

WeHo’s decision is just another nail in the fur industry’s coffin. Kind people around the world are recognizing that there’s nothing glamorous about the way animals suffer and die for fur. “The fur trend in the U.S. is toward fake,” says Amy Lechner, an analyst with Pell Research, which estimates that sales of faux fur will increase by 30 percent over the next two years.  

Lawmakers and trendmakers alike are responding to this growing anti-fur sentiment.

Earlier this year, the European Parliament approved a new regulation requiring that all clothing containing fur or leather be clearly marked with labels stating, “Non-textile parts of animal origin.” Explains EP member Eva-Britt Svensson of Sweden, “Consumers must have the information to be able to ethically opt out of fur products and the cruel conditions in which they are often produced.” 

Fashion icons as diverse as Michele Obama, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy and Lady Gaga have all publicly sworn off fur. So has Oprah Winfrey. In the October issue of O magazine, editor in chief Susan Casey describes the “aha moment” that led Winfrey to stop wearing fur 20 years ago. While looking at a sable cape in her closet, Winfrey had “a visceral sense of how many four-leggeds had been used in its creation, bred specifically to be killed.” Like Oprah, O magazine is fur-free.  

Stella McCartney, Calvin Klein, Vivienne Westwood and Ralph Lauren are just a few of the top designers who refuse to use real fur in their collections. High-end design houses such as Prada and Chanel are increasingly offering faux-fur options—Karl Lagerfeld even based Chanel’s Fall 2010 collection around fake fur. Faux-fur vests and other accessories are bestsellers on HSN.

While previous generations may have worn real fur without considering its impact on animals and the environment, today’s consumers can’t claim not to know what happens before animals are turned into capes and coats. Just this month, newspapers around the world ran shocking stories about raccoon dogs—a canine species native to Asia—who are being skinned alive in China to create knock-off versions of Uggs.

PETA’s affiliate PETA Asia-Pacific investigated fur farms and markets in China and found that raccoon dogs are beaten with steel pipes and left to die slowly as they writhe in agony in full view of other animals. Rabbits’ necks are broken while the animals are still conscious and able to feel pain. On fur farms, animals live in barren wire cages—exposed to all weather extremes—as frozen piles of waste accumulate below them. Many animals frantically pace and turn in circles in their cages.

West Hollywood councilmember John D’Amico, who sponsored WeHo’s fur ban, predicts that “the impact will be heard from here to Fifth Avenue. People will talk about what a fur ban means in a new way.” While we wait to see if other progressive cities will follow WeHo’s lead, we can all take a stand against an industry that confines animals to cramped cages, violently beats them and rips the skin off their bodies—by banning fur from our closets.

Paula Moore is a senior writer for The PETA Foundation, 501 Front St., Norfolk, VA 23510; http://www.PETA.org.

 

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Written by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

November 2, 2011 at 4:49 pm

Why I ‘pied’ a government official

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By Emily McCoy

I was recently banned from entering Canada for two years and placed on strict probation for lobbing a tofu cream pie into the face of Canadian Fisheries Minister Gail Shea.

Political pieings are nothing new—everyone from Anita Bryant to Bill Gates has been pied over the years—but you might be wondering what would drive someone to dish out (and risk going to jail for) such a public form of protest.

In my case, I was making a statement against Canada’s annual slaughter of baby seals, the largest massacre of marine mammals on the planet. Despite the fact that seals, like polar bears and other ice-breeding animals, are threatened by climate change—because of poor ice conditions, biologists warn that as many as half the seal pups born in Atlantic Canada this year could perish—the Canadian government continues to allow sealers to kill hundreds of thousands of harp seals each year for their fur.

I targeted Ms. Shea because she defends this indefensible slaughter in an apparent attempt to curry favor with the fishing industry. The commercial seal slaughter—which accounts for about 97 percent of all massacred seals—is nothing more than an off-season profit venture for fishermen off Canada’s eastern coast.

And while she admits that she’s never personally witnessed how painfully the seals die, Shea has no qualms about calling the slaughter “humane.” Observers of previous seal slaughters have seen conscious baby seals stabbed with boat hooks and dragged across the ice as well as wounded pups who were left to choke on their own blood as sealers rushed to attack the next helpless victim.

While other world leaders, including President Barack Obama and the Dalai Lama, have denounced this massacre, Shea is perhaps the strongest and most vocal advocate of the seal slaughter. Lately, she has been trying to peddle seal fur and meat in China—with little success—all in an attempt to drum up the market for a product that no one needs or wants. The U.S. and the European Union have both banned seal fur.

Looking back on my actions, I realize that there were a number of issues that I did not consider. A little tofu pie on someone’s face is hardly comparable to the blood on Canadian officials’ hands, but my actions could have caused someone in the audience to be injured. 

And I never considered the possibility that the few people in favor of the seal massacre might retaliate against others who were peacefully protesting it. This is exactly what happened just a few days later when a PETA protester in Prince Edward Island was violently pushed to the ground and had a pie ground into her face. No one was charged in that incident.
 
I didn’t consider the extent of the consequences of my actions in protesting the violent seal slaughter, and for this, I am regretful. But I don’t regret taking a stand against the shameful slaughter, as caring people around the world have done. It’s time for the Canadian government to recognize that shooting and clubbing seals for their fur is out of step with people’s evolved attitudes toward animals. It’s time for Canada to end this national disgrace.

Hopefully, by the end of my probation, Canada’s bloody seal massacre will be nothing but a sad memory and I will be able to visit Canada once again—as a tourist, not a protester.

Emily McCoy lives in New York and is the founder of Daisy Dog Studio (www.DaisyDogStudio.com). She wrote this on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), 501 Front St., Norfolk, VA 23510; www.PETA.org.

Written by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

March 30, 2011 at 8:46 pm

Fall fashion’s hottest trend: Faux fur

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By Paula Moore

If you’d rather go naked than wear fur, you’re in luck. This fall, faux fur is everywhere. Many of the hefty fashion magazines on newsstands this month include spreads spotlighting faux-fur coats and other creations. Designers and retailers from Anna Sui to Uniqlo are selling faux-fur bags, faux-fur jackets, boots trimmed with faux fur and more. Even veteran designer Karl Lagerfeld featured head-to-toe fake fur in his fall collection for Chanel.

Whether it’s a sign of a slow economic recovery (fake fur is considerably cheaper than the “real thing”) or a nod to the growing “eco-fashion” movement hardly matters. For the sake of the millions of animals suffering in crowded wire-mesh cages on fur farms, faux fur is one trend that we should all embrace.

On fur farms around the world, animals spend their entire lives in small, filth-encrusted cages, often with no protection from the driving rain or the scorching sun. Rabbits’ tender feet become raw and ulcerated from rubbing against the wire mesh of the cage bottoms, and the stench of ammonia from urine-soaked floors burns their eyes and lungs. Video footage taken during undercover investigations of fur farms in China and France shows rabbits twitching and shaking after their throats are cut.

In China, which is now the world’s largest exporter of fur, animals on fur farms are bludgeoned, beaten and mutilated—all in the name of fashion.

Earlier this year, PETA’s affiliate PETA Asia released footage from its latest undercover investigation of fur markets and farms in China. The shocking footage reveals that raccoon dogs are beaten with steel pipes and left to die slowly as they writhe in agony in full view of other animals. Rabbits’ necks are broken while the animals are still conscious and able to feel pain. Animals live in barren wire cages—exposed to all weather extremes—as frozen piles of waste accumulate below them. Some are driven insane from the constant confinement and frantically pace and walk in circles in their cages.

Says Project Runway guru Tim Gunn, “With so many great alternatives, why would you buy the real thing? Why would you? I just don’t understand it.”

For anyone who worries that faux fur may not be as “green” as other options, consider this: Before a fur garment reaches the local mall, it is soaked in a bath of chemicals—including sulfuric acid, ammonium chloride, formaldehyde, lead acetate, sodium perborate and more—to keep it from decomposing in the buyer’s closet. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, one of the chemicals used to dye furs, hexavalent chromium, is a hazardous waste.

As designer Marc Bouwer (who uses no fur, leather or wool in his collections) points out, the technology used to produce faux fur will continue to improve. “But death is death.”

So when you’re out shopping for clothes this fall, remember that sometimes it’s OK—in fact, it’s preferred—to “fake it.” “Technical advances are so perfect you can hardly tell fake fur from the real thing,” says Lagerfeld. “Fake is not chic … but fake fur is.”

Paula Moore is a research specialist for The PETA Foundation, 501 Front St., Norfolk, VA 23510; www.PETA.org.

Written by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

September 24, 2010 at 4:31 pm

The season’s best look: faux fur

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I was flipping through some of the fall fashion magazines recently when I noticed a surprising trend. This season, a lot of women are going to be “faking it.”

I couldn’t be happier.

In years past, the September fashion magazines were depressingly furry. Last year, one magazine featured a two-page article on fur coats and shawls that were infused with a mist of 24-karat gold. This year, because of the ailing economy, ostentation is “out,” frugality is “in” and many fashion trendsetters are sporting faux-fur jackets and vests instead of the real thing. 

I urge everyone to embrace the faux-fur trend, and here’s why. Many of the fur accessories and fur-trimmed jackets that you see in stores are made from rabbit fur because it’s often cheaper than other animals’ skins. But I’ve lived with several rabbits over the years, and I can tell you that they are much more than muffs.

Just like our dog and cat companions, rabbits have their own individual personalities, likes and dislikes. One of my rabbits, Henry, loved to be the center of attention, and he would sit in the middle of the living room while I watched TV or lounge on the futon with his legs stretched out to the side.

My rabbits Cozy and Freya fell in love and became inseparable. No matter where they were, they would always sit with their bodies pressed together. When I petted Cozy, he’d respond by giving me tons of kisses. Freya would gently nibble on my inner arm. They both had a sweet tooth and loved bananas, apples and raisins.

Rabbits make lifelong bonds with other rabbits as well as with their human companions and other animals in the household. Henry and my cat Winnie used to chase each other around the house and playfully wrestle. When my cat Josie groomed Henry, he would grind his teeth in delight. He especially loved to have his face cleaned.

Rabbits are fastidiously clean by nature, so imagine what it’s like for them on fur farms, where they are confined to tiny, filthy cages, surrounded by their own waste. PETA Asia’s director and a coworker of his visited a typical rabbit fur farm in China recently, and the first thing that struck them was the stench—a sickening combination of urine, feces and freshly removed skins left to dry in the sun.

There’s a reason rabbits have those strong back legs—to dash about. All my rabbits would make crazy dashes around the house and do 180-degree turns in the air, joyfully kicking out their legs.

On the fur farm that PETA Asia’s staff visited, hundreds of rabbits were individually packed into cages not much bigger than their own bodies, all of them freezing in the cold. Each cage, one after another, row upon row, contained one solitary rabbit, living all alone.

When most people envision fur farms, they probably think about the animals’ terrifying slaughter, and it is horrible. PETA Asia’s staff documented workers pulling terrified rabbits from their cages and twisting their heads—breaking their necks but not killing them. These rabbits, still alive and convulsing, were tossed into barrels like pieces of trash. 

But I also think about the extreme boredom and loneliness that those rabbits, housed all alone, had to endure, day after day, month after month, until they were finally killed. Rabbits can be shy, but they are not solitary animals. They all love to be stroked and spoken to gently, and they want to be part of the family.

With so many Americans worrying about losing their jobs or keeping up with their monthly mortgage payments, flaunting real fur right now is a bit tacky, to say the least. It’s little wonder that fashion editors are pushing fake fur this season. But, for the sake of rabbits everywhere, I hope that women will continue to “fake it” long after the recession is over. Cruelty is never in fashion.

Robyn Wesley is the senior editor of Publications for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), 501 Front St., Norfolk, VA 23510; http://www.PETA.org.

Written by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

September 28, 2009 at 7:45 pm

Posted in fur

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