A lot of things can break a bond between friends: competing for love interests, hectic schedules, differing life stages, opposing political views, and now seemingly more than ever, fur jackets are the culprit.
As the winter wind begins to roll in, so do some important decisions when it comes to winter coats – ones that could polarize groups of people and cause tension between friends. The big debate centres around fur-trimmed hoods on parkas and coats from some of the world’s largest outerwear brands.
Beloved by many, outerwear brands like Canada Goose, Nobis, Rudsak, and Mackage all feature fur in many of their styles.
While the fur detailing is a (pricey) added bonus to some shoppers, it’s no surprise that others find it truly appalling – and aren’t afraid to tell you so. I know one guy who didn’t make it past the first (very brief) date with a woman because she showed up in a Canada Goose parka with a coyote fur-trimmed hood. I know another woman who called out an acquaintance, making a mild scene in the process, when she showed up at her party wearing a fur coat.
In an extreme case, a friend of a friend essentially de-friended those around her who rocked fur on the regular, citing “differing core values.”
Even if a friend or family member doesn’t overtly criticize others for wearing fur to their face, pretty much everyone knows the type who will take to social media to slam the “terrible, horrible, insensitive fur wearers,” even if it means offending those closest to them in the process.
“I don’t think I would purchase a coat with fur on it now, but I do have a coat I saved up for maybe four years ago that has a fur hood that I wear on really cold days,” says Ashley, a Toronto 30-something marketing professional. “I have one friend who is extremely vocal about her anti-fur stance on social media, so – simply to avoid drama and conflict – I try not to wear it around her, even if it means freezing my butt off.”
Taking it a step beyond the realm of friendships, regardless of their viewpoint on fur, many wouldn’t take that fur coat out if the closet if they wanted to, out of fear of being judged by strangers on the streets, potential employers, love interests, and social media contacts.
To many people, wearing a fur coat in public is considered a major statement. That statement is that fur is fashion; a view that’s not in style for many.
In early 2016 – right before the anti-fur movement and mass veganism really began to dominate deadlines – a survey of 1,025 young people between the ages of 18 and 34 revealed that 66 per cent of young people did not feel comfortable wearing real fur.
Only 19 per cent felt comfortable doing so, and 15 per cent said that it depended where the fur came from. Personally, I wouldn’t buy a fur-adorned coat in today’s climate, but do have a few (very warm ones) from years ago that I’m not sure will see the light of day this year; frankly, I’m undecided.
“I think it’s a sensitive subject. I do think wearing a vintage piece is different than buying a new piece because it symbolizes recycling and waste reduction,” says Hannah, a 38-year-old human resource professional in Toronto. “But, I also don’t see the difference between wearing leather shoes, having leather bags, fur, or eating meat. It’s all the same to me.”
Naturally, opposing opinions about fur opens up this bigger, slippery slope-filled debate for those wanting to take it there.
Someone who feels attacked for wearing fur may be quick to call their fur-protesting bestie a hypocrite if he or she eats meat or consumes other animal products, or wears down, leather shoes, or leather jackets.
“I used to judge people who wore Canada Goose jackets,” says Emma, a 30-year-old Toronto creative director. “But then, I saw how much the brand supported remote and underserved communities in Canada’s north by donating large amounts of much-needed parka material, and I looked more into their ethical fur and down sourcing practices and sort of changed my stance.”
Both Canada Goose and Nobis have strict fur-sourcing practices in place, and outline this on their respective websites. For example, Canada Goose states that all down is a byproduct of the poultry industry, and that none of its ethically sourced fur is from fur farms, or endangered species.
However, For animal rights activists this doesn’t cut it.
Despite the well-documented backlash against fur (and, specifically, Canada Goose), the demand for things like coyote fur continues to soar thanks to the high-end parka industry, and neither Canada Goose, nor Nobis, are hurting for business.
It should be noted that both brands are listening to the changing consumer sentiment, and feature many items free of fur.
In particular, Nobis’ new fall/winter 2019 collection offers no shortage of warm, fitted, and stylish parkas that are fur-free. The majority of Nobis’ outerwear pieces are designed with removable furs, and faux-fur pre-order options are also available.
Canada Goose, Mackage, Nobis, and Rudsak also offer fur-free alternatives.
As the fur debate continues to divide, the number of options of warm synthetics available is growing. Today’s quality faux-furs look so similar to real fur that it’s tough to tell the difference.
Traditionally, however, while faux-fur may spare animals, it hasn’t exactly been the best for the environment because it requires more nonrenewable energy to produce and is often made from nonrenewable materials like polyester, nylon, and acrylic.
In fact, faux-furs are said to take longer to break down than real deal furs. On the positive, the industry is constantly innovating to provide safer options.
For example, just this month, Stella McCartney launched a sustainable faux-fur jacket made from plant-based materials like corn.
Whatever your viewpoint is on it, the reality is that the great fur jacket debate has reached new heights in recent years; something that’s reflective in everything from powerful social media campaigns to the world’s most coveted fashion runways.
The fashion industry is strutting away from fur, one headline at a time; recently, brands including Prada, Versace, Burberry, and Gucci all swore off using fur.
Last year, London Fashion Week vowed to go fur-free. It’s only reasonable to assume that the stigma surrounding real fur will continue to grow – subsequently, so will the tension between friends.
Perhaps the solution – and one that will satisfy both the animal rights activists and the environmentalists, not to mention, save friendships – is to say goodbye to a fur-focused aesthetic in fashion all together.
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