The Women's Room is in a quandary over fur. With all this cold weather comes the desire to keep very snug and there’s nothing quite like a bit of vintage fur to do the trick. We’re not talking ubiquitous sheepskin so beloved of middleagemums around the school gates, we’re in love with the full fabulous glamour of rich and glossy animal pelt.
In the last decade or two the animal rights group PETA has done a good job of highlighting the stupidity of wearing endangered animals and cruelty in poor animal care and made us think hard about the issue. But along the way they turned into the school bully and we stopped thinking for ourselves and toed the line for fear of being paint-bombed.
But there is another side to the debate. We did some research and spoke to SAGA, which promotes the Scandinavian fur farmers point of view. Fur farming is an ancient, traditional way of rural life in the icy climes of Northern Europe, you don’t get so much fuss over wearing fur when it’s minus 30c outside. Fur farms are mostly small and stay in the same family for generations, much like farming anywhere. And just like Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s chickens, the animals thrive when treated nicely producing far better pelts, so farmers adopt good animal husbandry because it makes them more money.
Bizarrely fur farming is also perfectly eco-balanced as every scrap of the animal is used, the fur into pelts and the carcasses go to help the important fishing industry. Although there is no organic standard as yet, every pelt is tagged so it can be traced back to the farm and conditions checked out.
Could you be so sure the same could be said about your trainers? Or your recent purchase from Primark? We might not be great at maths (being fashion girls) but we know how much fabric costs, how long it takes to make a dress, how far away India is, how expensive it is to staff and heat a shop. Just how do you think they can still sell trench coats for £15? Someone somewhere is suffering and it sure isn’t Primark, profits last year were £233 million.
So it’s tricky not to be hypocritical here, even vegetarians (and we know and love lots of them) get in a pickle over the issues. Leather shoes? Handbags? Trainers glued with horse glue? Feathers in duvets plucked from live ducks? (feathers grow again so it’s more profitable to keep the animals alive), mulesed sheep in merino wool manufacture? It’s a minefield.
“Ah but” goes middleagedad.com, “fur is elitist, its very expense means average people will hate fur wearers due to the snob factor.” Well not any more, eBay sells vintage mink wraps at £15 and white mink jackets such as the one in the photo for £65. Vintage fur is officially cheap, the Evening Standard did an article this week pointing out where to buy vintage fur coats for £50, we’re getting into high street pricing territory.
The final pull for older women is that to carry the glamour of vintage fur off, you need a bit of age. We just do it better. Think of the Queen. We wore our ebay mink (carefully) this week and got besieged by colleagues wanting to try it on, ask where we got it, loving the glamour. So what do you think guys? Is it a sin? Or is it –just like the rest of life- something we need to check out before we spout forth about. We want your views!