What was the only thing more omnipresent at the first three installments of Fashion Week than Cara Delevigne? Fur. It was everywhere, from dresses at Jason Wu, to arms of gorilla-esque coats at Band of Outsiders to muffs and bicep high gloves at Altuzarra and Alexander Wang that eliminated any and all digital dexterity. Not to mention the Fendi fox fur faux-hawks (say that five times fast). This is definitely not your grandmother’s monogrammed mothball-scented fur. The ubiquity of fur-trimmed Canada Goose hoods show that fur is no longer just for high fashion, but has tricked down into everyday life. Yet it does not seem so long ago that Anna Wintour was being attacked by activists outside of fashion shows for her signature fur coat and retailers everywhere shied away from selling fur for fear of appearing tasteless. So what had changed?
Some have suggested that this generation is less opposed to fur because they prioritize issues of human rights over those of animals. Perfect, let me pat myself on my rabbit-covered back for caring about my fellow man. As nice a thought as this may be, a closer examination shows that a number of factors are contributing to this shift. In the 90s, by far the biggest and most publicized animal advocacy group was PETA, whose non-violent, yet bold tactics (like tossing red paint on those wearing fur), made them famous. Even so, last year, when a PETA affiliate threw flour onto Kim Kardashian as she gave a red carpet interview it was met largely with laughter and mockery. Certainly the droves of naked D-list celebrities who populate their ads do not lend PETA an air of legitimacy and diminishes their effectiveness as a lobbying group. As well, consumers seem to have become more aware of the hypocrisy of the anti-fur movement. While many large scale department stores like the Hudson’s Bay Company closed their fur salons, they never stopped selling leather. Leather requires an equal animal “contribution” yet it has never been met with the same outrage as fur. Is this because people eat cow? Well people eat rabbit too, just ask the nearest Italian.
One effect of the anti-fur movement was the shift towards “faux” and “vegan” products. But, as anyone who has ever felt the “fur” on clothing at Urban Outfitters can tell you, the quality is seriously lacking. In high fashion, Stella McCartney has been the largest proponent of this push, refusing to see either fur or leather. However “vegan leather” is just a fancy was of saying pleather, and spending two grand on a purse essentially made of plastic seems like a rip off. There is nothing wrong with a plastic purse (see Valentino’s rockstud bags) just as long as it is not pretending to be leather. This generation seems more concerned with craftsmanship and quality investment pieces. Materials who pretend to be something they are not are directly antithetical to this notion.
On a more positive note, designers are innovating new ways to wear fur. Hacking the sleeves off tradition coats made for practical vests that project that effortless Francophile cool while keep the wearer warm. The short, chubby coats in every colour of the rainbow oppose the notion that fur is best left to your Nona. Details on collars, shoes and hats add classy touches that are- gasp– also practical. Its street style that won’t cause hypothermia, and that is something to celebrate.
For those still nervous about taking on the real deal, never fear, you have options. Thrift and vintage stores are full of hidden gems at insane prices. The only downside- as a friend who purchased a sick rabbit vest for roughly ten dollars this summer in England learned- it may cost you ten times the purchase price to have it cleaned. Or, if Macklemore is more your steeze, skip the thrift store entirely and head for Bubby’s closet and keep that 20 in your pocket. If you don’t want any animal at all but love the look, I suggest a photorealistic print like those seen on the puffer jackets at MM6. From a distance, the puffer jacket looks like a wolf and up close; the optical illusion is even trippier. So tap into your inner John Snow or Anna Wintour (who let’s face it, would totally be a Lannister) and stay fashionably warm for the remainder of the Kingston winter. And don’t worry about PETA; they’re too busy taking pictures of Courtney Stodden to care.
Claire Pierce, Online Contributor
All Images via Style.com