Stop Saying Fur Is Only for Fashion

One of the arguments I hear over and over again is that fur is wrong because we are killing animals “for fashion”. Fur’s main purpose is not for fashion and I think it is time to set the record straight about why the majority of us wear fur.

fur coat, mink, sable, fur fashion, fashion, Oscar de la Renta, Gorski
Furs from Neiman Marcus: a sable coat from Oscar de la Renta (left), and a mink jacket from Gorski (right). Both look good, but their primary purpose is to keep the wearer warm.

Defined as “A popular or the latest style of clothing, hair, decoration, or behavior” (Oxford Dictionary), fashion is constantly changing. When someone buys something to be fashionable, it is usually an item of clothing – or an accessory – whose life-cycle as a fashionable product is relatively short. That print, silhouette, or shape that is considered fashionable today is probably not going to be so next season or next year. On the other hand, classic clothing could be considered as wardrobe staples that do not follow trends and can be worn for many years. Would you not consider fur to fit into the latter? Fur coats are made to last and while some may be considered fashionable, nearly all are designed to have some degree of longevity.

Modesty and Protection

Let’s consider the purpose of clothing. We wear clothing for a lot of reasons, sometimes it is for fashion, other times status, or for identification purposes (a uniform, for example). But the majority of us wear clothing primarily for modesty and for protection from the elements.

Fur plays a huge role in protecting us from the elements. The majority of human beings live in climates where it is necessary to wear clothing throughout the year to protect ourselves from the sun, rain, wind, and cold. We have many options when the weather turns cold, and we have discussed the unintended consequences of wearing synthetics here.

But it goes without saying that we need to wear something.

If you are feeling the urge to buy and wear something fashionable, you probably don’t think “fur!” A new dress, a pretty pair of shoes, or an interesting accessory usually come to mind when I think about wearing something fashionable. And funnily enough, people don’t complain about cows being killed “for fashion” because they are made into lovely shoes. Right? Or that sheep are being raised on farms “for fashion”. Not really. They just go out and buy that new wool sweater.

fur coat, rabbit fur, etro fur, jackets, fur fashion, fashion
Coats available for purchase at Matches: an embroidered fur coat from Etro (left) and a fur and shearling coat from No. 21 (right). These might be considered fashion pieces but they are also very good winter clothing.

But if you were in the mood to make a fashion statement, would you really choose an expensive garment you can only wear for four months in the year, that requires expensive storage and cleaning, and takes up a lot of closet real estate? No, most would choose a pair of earrings instead.

Yet some people claim it is wrong to wear fur because it is just for fashion. I don’t think fur is for fashion, it is for keeping warm. It is a beautiful, stylish way to keep warm, but there’s a reason why you don’t see a lot of mink coats on the streets in July. That’s because fur is worn as protection from the elements. In public opinion research conducted by the Fur Council of Canada, the majority of women who wore fur said that it was primarily for warmth.

Canada Goose Irony

I find it ironic that one of the brands that gets the most flack for killing animals “for fashion” is Canada Goose. Canada Goose is not a fur brand but it trims its parka hoods with coyote fur because it considers it to be the best material to protect your face from wind and cold. I have a Canada Goose parka, and I love fashion, and I can tell you right now that my least fashionable coat is probably my Canada Goose parka. Look at the silhouettes, the colour palette, the finishings. These coats aren’t fashionable, they have Velcro on them! Velcro! Probably the antithesis of fashion.

canada goose, fur fashion
Canada Goose parkas: warm, practical, long lasting, and good quality. But not exactly high fashion.

They might not be fashionable, but do you know what Canada Goose coats are? WARM. Practical. Reliable. Long-lasting. Made in Canada. Did I mention warm? That’s why people buy them and that’s why the company has done so well. Sure, it has great branding and it knows how to market its product, but the brand wouldn’t have done well if its coats couldn’t stand up to the harshest winters. The majority of people don’t buy Canada Goose parkas as fashion statements, they buy them to keep warm. And you don’t need to live in the Arctic to need to keep warm. Try standing still at a bus stop or in a dog park for 20 minutes in the middle of a cold winter. If you’ve done it wearing Canada Goose, you’ll understand how fantastic these parkas are.

The same applies to many fur coats. Sure, there are some that are fashionable. But they are mostly being worn in fall/winter. Sure fur is soft and stylish and pretty … but first and foremost, it is warm.

Practical AND Stylish

And don’t even try to argue that if fur coats are primarily practical, why are they designed with trends and fashion in mind? Good design is integral in every aspect of our lives, and just because we want to wear fur because it is warm, doesn’t mean we don’t want to look good. It is absolutely acceptable to make a practical garment and also consider what it will look like, from a fashion perspective. When you are paying that much for a garment, you want it to be as stylish as possible, which is why fur coats and jackets tend to be cut to be flattering and fashionable, as well as being practical. But there is no denying that their primary function is as a winter clothing garment.

People have many reasons to argue about fur, and you are free to choose not to wear it. But stop saying that it is wrong to use fur because it is “only for fashion”. It’s only people who don’t wear fur who make this claim, Protection from the elements is not a question of fashion, it is a question of comfort and sometimes survival. You can choose to wear a synthetic coat made from petroleum by-products to keep you warm, you can wear a down-filled parka with a coyote-trimmed hood, you can wear a full-length mink coat, but whichever you choose, the primary reason for that purchase is not fashion, it is function. And fur is nature’s best answer to winter, People who wear fur know this.

7 Comments

  • I do not think a hand bag made of mink fur like the ones sold by Maxmara has any practical purpose. I do not get it at all. Please explain why you would defend the raising and killing minks for handbags.

  • Totally agree that the function of furs was the reason they started to be used in the first place. Now in the coldest cities (as you posted in one comment) that is the reason but in most of the world it is fashion that makes people wear them.

    • No, it is the opposite. Most people buy furs for warmth and a very small number may buy them only for fashion. But for the most part, furs are winter clothing to keep you warm in cold weather.

  • This seems to be your argument:

    “You can choose to wear a synthetic coat made from petroleum by-products to keep you warm, you can wear a down-filled parka with a coyote-trimmed hood, you can wear a full-length mink coat, but whichever you choose, the primary reason for that purchase is not fashion, it is function”

    I think you can make this argument for the fur trimmed parkas, but the full-length mink coat… come on.

  • The fact is the anti-animal mealy minds won’t get it no matter how many times you spell it out. You’re right about that parka, fashion killer!

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