This post was sparked in part by a reader question, and in part by tomorrow’s terminology post (which means, in a way, you are getting a response from the future.). It also interlocks with Steph’s post on taste, and judging (or not judging) other people by their clothes.
First, the reader question:
A reader asks “How do you feel about fur? Would you use it if doing so was historically accurate? Could you consider a reproduction with faux fur historically accurate?”
As a bit of background to this, I have a very specific and defined attitude towards animals and meat. I will eat local unfarmed fish as long as it’s not a species that has been identified as being at-risk (bluefin tuna, orange roughies etc.). I eat wild game in areas where the wild game is an introduced species (so deer & goat in NZ & Hawaii). I don’t eat commercial meat, even the ethically farmed stuff. I just don’t like the idea of something existing merely to die. I don’t eat pork. The thought is just disgusting to me. Pigs are too much like humans. At the same time, I try not to be a pain about my diet. If I go to someones and get served meat I pick around it as discreetly as possible. I’ll even cook meat for people.
How do I feel about fur?
I’m OK with vintage fur, both wearing and using it, but I think that the fur industry needs to end. It’s outmoded and unethical. There is no reason to use fur anymore: unlike leather for shoes, we have found fur alternatives that work just as well as ‘real’ fur. Wearing new fur is one of the few places in fashion where I will judge you. I think it goes beyond tasteless to being cruel and unethical.
Although I am sanguine about wearing vintage fur (vintage meaning 30+ years old), the vintage fur pieces (two stoles, a jacket, a hat and a number of scraps or damaged collars) that I own were all Nana’s (she had almost 2 closets full of fur). I don’t think I could buy a vintage fur piece, even at an charity shop.
I do wear leather. I don’t think we are killing animals for the leather, and I feel that non-leather options work as well. I don’t wear leather clothes other than shoes and belts, and I can’t see myself buying leather furniture.
The one limit to my willingness to wear vintage fur is astrakhan. The knowledge of how it is sourced, even if it was before I was born, creeps me out too much. I won’t judge you for wearing vintage astrakhan, but I can’t put it on me. I gave Nana’s astrakhan hat and collared coat to an op-shop.
And now you are all wondering what ashrakan is. You’ll find out tomorrow!
Would I use fur on a historical outfit where doing so was historically accurate/correct?
I’d use the scraps or damaged collars from Nana, but otherwise no. My commitment to history doesn’t go as far as to ignore my ethics, or cause harm to my body. That’s where I draw the line.
Could you consider a reproduction with faux fur historically accurate/correct?
I could. Others may not. For me, using faux fur is no different than reproduction (plastic) whalebone, or using the closest modern weave when the historical one isn’t available. It’s not the same, but it serves the same purpose, and a seamstress of the time would probably have recognised what it was meant for, which is my rough standard.
These are all just my choices, and my opinions though.