Fads #19: Fur Coats!

It's probably incorrect to call the fur coat a fad considering it's been around since we were living in caves. However, it's definitely a mode of fashion that has seen its day.  And what is unique about it is that its fall from grace was not due to the typical capricious tastes of Western consumers, but rather a social stigma originating from the treatment of the animals that are made in its creation.  So, while the fur coat itself may not qualify as a fad given its millennial longevity, the condescension towards it definitely would.

Not so long ago, getting your wife a mink coat was tantamount to a diamond ring.  It was expensive and showy - a status symbol not unlike dad's Cadillac.  Then, somewhere along the way, an awareness about the animals used to make it started to erode its place at the top.  Eventually, this awareness turned into aggression and multi-million dollar campaigns against it.  The fur coat as a symbol of elegance and pride was thhhhrpt (fart noise).

Personally, I have mental dilemma with the whole fur coat thing.  I understand that way the animals are treated is barbaric.  I understand it takes hundreds of these miserable creatures to create a single coat.  So, I get it. It's not the way a civilized conscientious society should treat its fellow earthly inhabitants just to have a nice coat - especially considering there are synthetic alternatives.

However, I am curious why the fur coat is considered verboten (to the point where wearers have been literally attacked) and yet so many other things are, more or less, considered tolerable.  For instance, there is not near the stigma associated with...

Eating a Big Mac
Wearing a leather jacket
Ordering veal or foie gras at a fancy restaurant
Buying a leather sofa
Carving up the Thanksgiving turkey...

Etc. Etc. You get my point.  There's plenty of other socially acceptable activities that involve some degree of animal cruelty.  But for some reason, the fur coat got pegged as the one that is intolerable.  And I won't even go into the fact that there are an equal level of products out there that involve cruelty to humans, but aren't stigmatized at all!  For instance, the gold that is mined at the expense of human lives in Africa, the shoes that are manufactured in a Vietnamese sweatshop, etc.

And I can't buy into the "two wrongs don't make a right" argument.  In other words, just because we approve of slave labor in Sri Lankan textile mills, shouldn't mean that we should approve of fur coats. That train of thought is invalid in my book. With a single sentence it sweeps under the rug all of society's crimes, but feels okay with fixating on a single one.

So, what to do? This is wear things get murky because we have a world population of around six billion and consumerism gone batshit crazy.  To be mindful of every aspect of every product that enters your home or your mouth is bordering on the impossible.  Yet, to completely ignore the sometimes horrific origins of these products doesn't seem to be a humane alternative either.  Thus, we Westerners have resorted to cherry picking examples like fur coats to rail against; subsequently, our conscience is assuaged but our intelligence remains stymied.

In the end, I have answers that can completely cover the dilemma.  We are at a point in our civilization where we are caught between willful ignorance and a debilitating awareness.  Most of us just tread somewhere in the middle, satisfied that we don't wear fur coats.


  1. Yup. The folks who attack fur-wearers are wearing clothing made by Chinese slaves, and videoing the attack on their smart-phones, built by Chinese slaves.

    I'd say it's a safe bet that mink farms are more humane than chicken farms or cattle farms, simply because the pelts need to be free of scars and lesions.

  2. If they'd just kill them humanely, I don't see what the big deal is. Is it because they're so cute? Some say cows are cute. Cute and tasty. Yet we haven't come up with anything that's as seductive as a sexy girl wrapped in only her mink coat.

  3. I agree with the "one thing's SO BAD but other things are completely ignored" argument. Also, I feel little compunction or guilt for wearing a vintage fur coat or stole, the "poor animal" in question having been dead longer than I've been alive (that's when I'm lucky enough to find one). What's the deal? Good, thought provoking post.

  4. In my personal experience most of the people I've met who are against fur are like the guy in this story from Not Always Right. Not all of them, of course, but I have a knack for attracting people to me who are just too freaking weird to be real, and yet, they are. (Course they were usually obviously high as well. Don't know why they bother with me when I'm a militant anti-smoker and militant anti-pot/cocaine/heroine/etc.)

    I have no problem with FARMED fur. It's no different than wearing leather. Fur from baby seals and the like, however, I'm 100% against.

  5. When I was in the 7th grade, I wanted a rabbit fur jacket I saw in the Spiegel Christmas catalog that year. The mean girls who always bullied me at the bus stop went into full tilt bully mode and tormented me over that coat. This was before the PETA movement against fur. Today I have a few fake fur jackets and while I haven't worn them in quite a few years, I can't bear to part with them in case they make a comeback.

  6. Wow, just yesterday my mother gave me three of her old fur coats. It's not really ever cold enough here to wear them but I remember her wearing her full-length white mink to the Music Center in Downtown LA back in the '70's - maybe it was colder back then? I never forgot that she refused to let me wear that coat to a swanky party when I was nineteen. When I reminded her of it yesterday, she said "I never said that!" Oh, Mom.

    Do they even still have a Spiegel catalog? LOVED it.

    1. Hopefully this is the right Spiegel - http://www.spiegel.com/

    2. @Basia -- They do, but (in my opinion) their quality really went downhill compared to the 80s. They swallowed up Newport News and started to make all of their clothing in the same style. I miss the Spiegel (and Victoria's Secret) of the 80s and 90s.

  7. The girl in the white fur coat, stockings and high heels makes ME want to have pancakes. All other moral issues set aside, that is.

  8. How about plastic water bottles (and plastic everything, even coffee cans). This time of year when the leaves are bare it's incredible the amount of plastic crap that litters our highways.

    Guess the environmental lobbyists too busy riding around in limos to look out their windows.

  9. I thought you'd have that picture of Joe Namath on the sidelines wearing a fur.

  10. I know it's bad but...it was already dead when I bought it :)

    I love animals and think fur coats are cruel, but I got mine on sale for only 50 bucks (100 guilders in Amsterdam!) and well...it was so soft and pretty...
    But then again, nobody says anything about my leather jackets & boots.

    I am torn...

    I love animals but eat chicken, fish, hamburgers,etc.
    I could never live on a farm and kill my own animal buddies.
    I enjoyed fishing until I actually caught a fish & felt bad about hurting his mouth...threw him back into the water gasping for air, poor little thang...
    I love eating at Red Lobster, but when I visit the local grocer...sometimes I just wanna free the lobsters in the seafood tank!!!!!!!!!!

    I feel better about recently changing some of my cosmetic choices to cruelty-free beauty (giving up L'Oreal was tough, but they do test on animals.)
    No, the one fur coat is the only one that I never wear much.
    But I do enjoy wearing faux-fur vests, gloves, hoodies, etc.

    The company I work for sells products manufactured in third-world countries (the Bloomberg Report scandal hardly made a dent in our Christma$ $ale$! All time high!)
    And of course we have a new $$$controversial campaign$$$...contributing to the exploitation of young high school girls under the geise of "college" girls as anorexic sex objects.
    But who cares about what those angry housewives in Utah think about our catalogue! Our numbers have never been higher!
    Most of our customers don't even realize that Ugg Australia switched their production location to gasp...China this past June. ($200 a pair-if they only knew...would they care?)
    One day at work we learned that our distribution center (midwest location) is color-coded because most of the workers employed there can't even read English.
    But hey, I haven't worked for a year & this place hired me & has a wicked dental plan, vision plan - I haven't had any insurance in say...the last 10 years!

    And we don't test on animals.
    But still...people pay top dollar for this crap made in China...

  11. That globe is a bar! I have one of those!

  12. Fur coats will always be popular, then and now. I even observed that a lot of women are going crazy over the fur trend again! They come prepared to fight the cold weather by wearing a fur jacket and at the same time, looking fantastic!