It doesn’t take an expert in the fashion industry to see the cultural shift occurring around sustainable clothing and manufacturing. Consumers are environmentally conscious of where clothing comes from, how its sourced, and factory worker conditions. One particular area of consumer concern is fur. Once considered a luxury, real fur products have faced backlash from organizations such as PETA to consumer themselves for the cruelty and ethical issues associated with farming and killing animals for fur products.
In response to this shift, the United Kingdom and Austria banned fur farming in the early 2000’s. You can see the change affecting products in America, too. While real fur products are still produced by many designers and worn by consumers, the appeal of “faux fur” products are undeniable, considering the price is often lower and may be just as warm as real fur in some cases. As part of their corporate social responsibility program, companies such as Zara, Net-a-Porter, Stella McCartney, and most recently Gucci, have sworn off fur, while companies such as Canada Goose continue to build their brands with animal fur.
A recent investigation into fur advertised as “faux” by retailers Boohoo, TK Maxx, Amazon, and Etsy, turned out to contain real fur from fox, mink, and rabbit. The retailers pointed to their suppliers for having violated their contracts, but this begs the question: Is fake fur more valuable than real fur?
A designer that creates a piece with faux fur may have to price point the item lower than its counterpart containing real, but may reach more consumers willing to buy the product containing faux fur. So from a marketing perspective, faux fur may be more valuable. What about actual costs? Faux fur, typically made up of synthetic fibers, is much more affordable than real fur.
Marketing aside, why else would a company try to pass off real fur as fake? Poor animal welfare standards in fur farming allows a distributor to sell real fur at very cheap prices, which can then be marketed and priced as “faux fur” without losing money. Additionally, countries may have strict labeling laws pertaining to the sale of real fur, which may be another cost and burden they wish to avoid.
Companies who have taken the step to ban fur in their products are certainly headed in the right direction. Consumers now have access to a lot of information on the products we purchase and it’s something we should continue to acknowledge and follow. For now, just being aware of the change in the fashion industry is important but as a sophisticated consumer, you should question the fabric of everything.