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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.

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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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