The hidden costs of fur fashion: why fur doesn’t belong on the catwalk


The hidden costs of fur fashion: why fur doesn’t belong on the catwalk

30 September 2022
Alternative materials that can keep us cosy abound these days. In general, faux fur can offer at least as good thermal insulation as the real stuff. And no chills of shame. The fur industry is of course as smart as the animals it exploits and it has hit on promoting real fur as a natural and sustainable product as opposed to “plastic fur”.

Fake news about faux fur

Hang on. If you take into account the whole life cycle of a fur product, from the breeding of the animals to the finishing of garments, fur production can be seen to be an intensely toxic and resource-consuming business. Again contrary to fur industry claims, the main reason real fur coats are thought to last longer is they haven’t been seen outside a wardrobe that often in recent decades. And even if they did stand up that well to daily use, this would be nowhere near long enough to compensate for the environmental impact. 

As well as constantly reminding consumers that faux fur is derived from fossil fuels, the industry has also focused on biodegradation. In fact, according to a study commissioned by the International Fur Federation and Fur Europe, the biodegradation of fur samples indicated that fur products were only partially biodegradable under test conditions. 

Moreover, evidence shows that fur farming has a devastating effect on biodiversity, being to blame for threats to some European native species. American mink and raccoon dogs – the main species reared for fur in Europe – are considered invasive alien species. 

Filthy business

Finally, major fashion houses are wising up to the fact that, far from the glamorous image of a model wearing nothing but a dash of exotic perfume under her furs, the reality of fur farming involves a far less attractive odour for local residents – to say nothing of the flies – and fur coats are becoming as likely to disgust their customers as turn them on. 

As we reported last month, many collections and entire fashion weeks are going fur-free. But only EU-level legislation for a Fur Free Europe, banning fur farming and farmed fur products on its markets, will keep fur off the catwalks.