Should You Feel Guilty About Wearing Vintage Fur?

March 7th, 2013

It’s undeniable: Fur is back. At New York Fashion Week last month, this extravagant, expensive material was so abundant, it might have been everyday wool. Not just seen on coats, jackets, and stoles, designers fashioned furs into skirts, oversize mittens, dresses, blouses, and even hoodies. Most of the top designers, including Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, and Marc Jacobs, showed real fur in some form on the runway.

“People as a whole are never going to stop liking fur.”

In fact, it’s not unlike the 1930s, when Americans weathered the Great Depression, followed by the wartime-rationing of the 1940s. “The movies were about luxury, luxury, luxury,” says Samantha Davis of the New York City-based web retailer Sammy Davis Vintage.

“People would go into the cinema, and live in that scene. They’d get to feel like they were one of those wealthy people for a few hours, then go back home to their normal lives. The same can be said for fashion. You can see it as a voyeuristic experience.”

But this trend is causing dismay among animal-rights activists, who’ve spent the past three decades campaigning against the use of fur in fashion.

“Fur is one of the most egregiously cruel industries out there,” says Christy Griffin, special projects officer for In Defense of Animals, based in San Rafael, California. “Every year, over 50 million animals, including dogs and cats, are killed for their fur worldwide. Eighty-five percent of animals killed in the fur industry come from fur farms—dismal places where foxes, rabbits, minks, chinchilla, and other animals spend their entire short lives in these tiny, filthy metal cages. Then, they’re killed in really horrific ways, such as bludgeoning, neck-breaking, or electrocution.”

Top: Carrie Bradshaw, played by Sarah Jessica Parker, wore a vintage raccoon fur coat, in the first season of "Sex and the City." Above: Bustown Modern's inventory includes this rare 1950s Lilli Ann trapeze coat with shaggy wool and a fox collar dyed powder blue. (Courtesy of Bustown Modern)

Top: Carrie Bradshaw, played by Sarah Jessica Parker, wore a vintage raccoon fur coat, in the first season of “Sex and the City.” Above: Bustown Modern’s inventory includes this rare 1950s Lilli Ann trapeze coat with shaggy wool and a fox collar dyed powder blue. (Courtesy of Bustown Modern)

For fashionistas who love both animals and wearing fur, going vintage seems like a simple solution. Old furs don’t directly contribute to the profits of modern fur farms, and they’re less toxic to the environment than faux furs (shown by Anna Sui and Christian Siriano on the runway), which are made from petroleum. Fur coats and stoles from the ’50s and ’60s evoke the lux, decadent glamour of Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor, but vintage furs go for a fraction of the cost of their contemporary counterparts.

“Some coats I have are from the ’20s, so the animal has been gone for a very long time.”

But according to Griffin, vintage fur is actually to blame for the renewed appetite for fur fashions. In the 1980s, groups like IDA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and the Animal Liberation Front started drawing attention to the brutal reality of fur farming. By the late 1990s, their sometimes-controversial campaigns, featuring celebrities like Pamela Anderson and Alicia Silverstone, succeeded in creating public distaste for furs, so that they no longer appeared on fashion runways.

Then, in 1998, HBO introduced its iconic single-girl show, “Sex and the City,” spotlighting a fashion-obsessed sex columnist, Carrie Bradshaw, strolling around New York City in a vintage fur coat. Griffin says that Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour credits Carrie Bradshaw with bringing fur, old and new, back into fashion.

A black silk jersey stole trimmed with white fox fur sold for $49,946, along with this photo of Marilyn wearing the stole, at a December 2008 auction in London. (Christie's Images Ltd.)

A black silk jersey stole trimmed with white fox fur sold for $49,946, along with this photo of Marilyn wearing the stole, at a December 2008 auction in London. (Christie’s Images Ltd.)

But vintage dealers like Davis and Elizabeth Hine, of Hinesite Vintage in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, say certain women never stopped loving their furs—and nothing is going to change that.

“If you go to any city, like New York, or other places where it’s cold—people wear fur,” Hine says. “I would rather see somebody with a vintage coat on because it’s already made. Some of the coats I have are from the ’20s, so the animal has been gone for a very long time. At least they’re preserved in a coat.”

Davis, who just published on an e-book called The 100 Best Vintage Shops Online, says that vintage clothing in general is greener than the modern fashion industry, and that she would prefer if furriers repurposed old furs rather than kill living animals. One new fur coat, for example, uses as many as 55 minks, 100 chinchillas, or 125 ermines, according to IDA.

A silver mosaic chinchilla, a rodent native to the Andes Mountains is becoming rare, because of the popularity of its thick, velvety fur. (Photo by Kjersti Holmang)

A silver mosaic chinchilla, a rodent native to the Andes Mountains is becoming rare, because of the popularity of its thick, velvety fur. (Photo by Kjersti Holmang)

“Do we need to produce billions of new garments a year? No,” she says. “Wearing second-hand fur is so much less detrimental to the environment than buying a new wool jacket is. I would much rather wear my grandmother’s fur coat that’s lasted since the ’50s than go buy something from J. Crew that I’m going to wear for two years and dispose of.”

In fact, Davis has had Facebook fans “Unlike” her page over pictures of her wearing vintage fur. She says she respects that people have strong opinions about fur, but she wishes they would suggest alternative uses for vintage fur, instead of simply getting angry.

“When it comes to wearing it, I understand that it perpetuates the trend as a whole, so it’s a risk when you walk around in it, because people can’t tell whether you’re in vintage or not,” she says. “But we’re always going to come across fur, whether it’s in our grandmother’s closet or at Goodwill.”

Bert Mann with a load of rabbit skins, Walcha, New South Wales, circa 1905. (Gooreen collection)

Bert Mann with a load of rabbit skins, Walcha, New South Wales, circa 1905. (Gooreen collection)

Rachel Poliquin, the author of The Breathless Zoo: Taxidermy and the Cultures of Longing, says she’s always wondered why the fur fashion has always garnered so much more hatred than other uses of animals like eating meat or making leather clothes, bags, belts, or shoes.

“I can’t help but think about the fact that it’s a luxury item,” she says. “Why are furs considered to be so much more offensive and horrible than eating a steak? In my mind, it’s the same thing. An animal died in both cases. But one, I guess, has got a little more glamour to it. It’s got the Marilyn Monroe aspect.

“As soon as you get into talking about animals, and the appropriate ways we use animals, it’s just such a never-ending pit of questions,” Poliquin continues. “Unless you live your life without using any animal products, and you don’t wear leather shoes or a leather belt, and you don’t eat meat, you’re always a hypocrite, and there is no gray. I think a lot of people like to live in the gray zone.”

Australian singer Natalie Imbruglia, known for her 1998 single "Torn," posed for an anti-fur ad for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals in 2008.

Australian singer Natalie Imbruglia, known for her 1998 single “Torn,” posed for an anti-fur ad for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals in 2008.

Griffin’s organization, of course, encourages people to give up meat-eating and leather-wearing altogether. She says IDA is concerned about the well-being of cows—which provide both beef and cowhide—horses, and sheep, as well as the less cuddly cold-blooded animals like snakes, alligators, and crocodiles used for purses, belts, and shoes.

“Not all leather comes from the meat industry, which is a common misconception,” Griffin says. “A lot of leather is brought into the United States from other countries such as India where they don’t even eat cows.”

That’s exactly the point of buying vintage fur and leather, vintage dealers say. You aren’t buying any new cheap animal products from Asia, which is so far removed from the United States, you’ll never know how the animals are used or treated. And vintage fur can give you that Old Hollywood luxury, while saving you thousands of dollars.

A Maximilian Fur Coat advertisement featuring an envious couple in a Rolls Royce in 1976. (Via

A Maximilian Fur Coat advertisement featuring an envious couple in a Rolls Royce in 1976. (Via

“Buying fur is like buying a car,” says Anessa Woods, who runs the Columbus, Ohio-based online vintage retail shop Bustown Modern. “There’s absolutely no reason to buy a new car or a new fur because the minute you drive it off the showroom floor or wear it out of the store, you lose 50 percent of the value. If you spend $100,000 on a brand new sable coat, you’re going to be lucky if you can sell it for $15,000 two years later.

“That’s why I love selling used fur, because people can get something fantastic and get a good deal on it,” she continues. “People say, ‘Oh, gosh your stuff goes for such high prices!’ This Christian Dior full-length fox fur coat was probably $25,000 when it was brand new, and if you’re getting it for $3,500, you’re getting a steal.”

Barguzinsky sable fur-skins in Milan, Italy. The price corresponds with the upper coat's glossiness and blackness.

Barguzinsky sable fur-skins in Milan, Italy. The price corresponds with the upper coat’s glossiness and blackness.

A more practical reason furs were coveted in the 1950s and ’60s, Davis says, is that cars didn’t have heat. So people would wear the warmest coat possible while driving, known as “car coats.” Griffin says that today we have innovative materials like down-filled jackets that are better at keeping you warm, but Woods disagrees.

“I can’t lie; there’s nothing warmer than fur,” she says. “I have coats that are down filled, and I don’t necessarily feel as warm and protected as I do in a fur.”

Back in the caveman days, clearly warmth was the biggest motivating factor for wearing furs. But in the Middle Ages, certain furs became symbolic of monarchies. Picture a red, fur-trimmed royal robe or crown from a storybook: Do you see white fur with black spots? That’s fur from ermine, also known as stoat, and, in countries such as England, sumptuary law decreed only royalty could wear it. In Russia, the same held true for sable, the fur of tsars.

Elizabeth I of England was painted with a heraldic ermine, which has black spots over its entire body. (Courtesy of the Hatfield House)

Elizabeth I of England was painted with a heraldic ermine, which has black spots over its entire body. (Courtesy of the Hatfield House)

Being a fur fit for a king wasn’t what brought the Eurasian beaver to the brink of extinction, though, it was haberdashery. According to Poliquin, who is working on a book on the history of the beaver industry, in the mid-1600s, Europeans discovered that beaver fur felted into the best wool for hats. In the 1700s, everything from top hats to Napoleon’s bicorne to the Pilgrim’s cockel hats were made of beaver felt. The shortage of beavers on the continent soon meant the North American beaver trade with Native Americans in Canada became extremely important.

“When they felted the wool underneath the longer guard hairs, it was waterproof,” Poliquin says. “When you wanted a broad brim, beaver felt held its shape very well in the rain, compared with some other materials, which would wobble all around. Everyone fell in love with it. Then in the 19th century, silk came to replace beaver, and then the beaver trade fell apart. And I’m sure the beaver was very thankful.”

Shapes and styles of beaver hat 1776-1825, from the 1892 book "Castorologia, Or, The History and Traditions of the Canadian Beaver," by Horace T. Martin.

Shapes and styles of beaver hat 1776-1825, from the 1892 book “Castorologia, Or, The History and Traditions of the Canadian Beaver,” by Horace T. Martin.

The difference in how people view fur may also have something to do with how much nature is a part of their day-to-day lives, Poliquin explains.

“My dad grew up in Saskatchewan, which is very cold in the 1940s, and when he was young, people had buffalo furs,” she says. “It wasn’t a luxury item. My dad’s family lived way out in the country, they often trapped animals, and they used their furs in a very close relationship with the landscape. I can see that an increasingly urban population would prefer not be reminded: This is not just a beautiful piece of fabric; somebody died to give it to me.”

Many fur stoles and coats from the 1920s and ’30s feature the animal’s heads, feet, or tails—and this trend, which we might find shocking today, didn’t fully fade until the mid-1950s.

This vintage fox scarf is made of four foxes, with at least two faces, eight feet, and four tails of the animals.

This vintage fox scarf is made of four foxes, with at least two faces, eight feet, and four tails of the animals. 

“More and more people don’t want to be associated with the cruelty that’s inherent in the industry, and the fact that they are dead animals,” Griffin says. “In the ’20s, it was a little more socially acceptable to be parading around with the full bodies of animals. These days, people want to be less associated with the cruelty, which is why you see the shaved furs and the multi-colored furs now.”

“As strange as it is today, it was indicative of glamour,” Davis says. “You would throw that double fox-head shawl over your 1930s slip dress, walk onto the red carpet, and call yourself Rita Hayworth.”

This 1970s silver dyed fox tail gilet is one of Anessa Woods' finds, which Bustown Modern is selling. (Courtesy of Bustown Modern)

This 1970s silver dyed fox tail gilet is one of Anessa Woods’ finds, which Bustown Modern is selling. (Courtesy of Bustown Modern)

But without those obvious, identifying features, it becomes easier to mislead buyers about what animal the fur came from. For example, “poor man’s mink” has long been a code word for muskrat or opossum furs, which have much wider pelts than actual mink, Hine says. Coats labeled as chinchilla are often made from chinchilla rex rabbits, bunnies bred to have fluffy, feathery fur like chinchilla, Woods explains. These days nutria, which are similar to guinea pigs, are bred to have fur as soft as mink.

“Generally, I can just touch it without seeing it and know what kind of fur it is,” Woods says. “But there are a lot of people who have trouble distinguishing between a stone marten, a sable, a mink, or a fisher fur. It confuses me sometimes, too.”

While mink and sable are among the most expensive and desirable furs, rabbit fur has always been on the low end. Clearly, there’s a reason people joke about “breeding like rabbits.” Thanks to the abundance of rabbit, Wood explains, it would often be used as a starter fur for girls and teenagers in the mid-century. Other young girls would be gifted faux furs before they got their first real fur.

Elsa Schiaparelli's hat made from a leopard's face was featured in the September 1939 issue of Bazaar. (Via

Elsa Schiaparelli’s hat made from a leopard’s face was featured in the September 1939 issue of Bazaar. (Via

For adults, some of the most coveted furs came from “exotic” animals like leopard, which was used by surreal fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli starting with her 1939 collection. In 1961, Oleg Cassini designed an elegant leopard fur-coat for First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, and suddenly, every woman just had to have a leopard coat—pushing the big cat toward extinction, as more than 250,000 were killed for furs.

Cassini quickly became an adamant animal-rights activist. “After that I decided to never use (real) furs in my designs again,” he’s quoted as saying. “There’s no logic in real fur; it was a different time, when people didn’t have choices. Now it’s just a luxury item.”

A Revlon ad from 1965. Women went wild for leopard after Jackie Kennedy wore a leopard-fur coat in 1961. (Photo by John Rawlings)

A Revlon ad from 1965. Women went wild for leopard after Jackie Kennedy wore a leopard-fur coat in 1961. (Photo by John Rawlings)

These days, vintage dealers have to be especially careful to mind the Endangered Species Act of 1973, which bans the trade of any product from one of the 2,000 animals on the endangered species list. Anyone in the United States who sells leopard, ocelot, margay, tiger, cheetah, bear, or otter may face fines up to $100,000 and possibly jail time. Most big cats—even bobcat and Canadian lynx in certain states—are considered endangered.

The tricky piece is recognizing furs made from weasel-like spotted civets, which are not endangered and were used to make furs imitating leopard or jaguar, Woods says. These days, you have to be especially careful you can verify what you have is civet. Spotted furs from Asia, for example, could also be made from house cats.

An illustration of an African civet—valued for both its fur and its musk—created by English naturalist Richard Lydekker in 1894.

An illustration of an African civet—valued for both its fur and its musk—created by English naturalist Richard Lydekker in 1894.

Even if you know you’ve found a legitimate, legal vintage piece, the condition of an old fur will never compare to that of a new fur. Woods says that fur farms have practiced animal husbandry for so long now that they sell the plushest, silkiest furs imaginable today.

“A fox from the 1920s oftentimes is very coarse, and it can be a bit dried out, because it’s nearly a hundred years old, especially if it’s not well cared for,” Woods says. “Fur now is a lot sleeker, longer, thicker, and plusher. I’ve never picked up a fur from the 1920s and been like, ‘Wow, this is the most perfect, gorgeous, sleekest, silkiest, shiniest fur I’ve ever felt.’ But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t a good example of a high-quality fur from that time.

“Fur isn’t just for dressing up anymore. I wear it to the grocery store.”

“Even looking at a mink fur from the 1950s to now is completely different,” she continues. “Now, when you drop a mink fur on the floor, it just literally puddles almost like water, like silk. Older minks, even if they’re soft, supple, lovely, and still in luxurious condition, having been kept in cold storage, the fur is a little bit coarser.”

Like anything organic, old furs can shed and rot, which is why, according to Griffin, the production of new fur is as toxic to the environment as faux fur: New fur is loaded with chemicals that prevent decay. “Shedding is a sign of dry rotting so you really want to be careful of that,” Woods says. “After time, most furs will shed a little bit, but once you brush it once or twice that should pretty much stop.”

A glamorous ad for Saga Furs was featured in the September 1955 issue of Vogue. (Via

A glamorous ad for Saga Furs was featured in the September 1955 issue of Vogue. (Via

Hine agrees that you’ll never find furs from certain eras in perfect condition anymore, but that doesn’t mean a rare fur isn’t worth it.

“To be considered in good condition, it has to be supple,” she says. “It shouldn’t feel stiff at all. Most furs have what are known as guard hairs on them, and then there’s another layer of fur. If you pull on the guard hairs and you get a handful of them you know it’s got some age to it, and you’re going to be losing fur. Then it just depends on how much you like that fur.”

Vintage furs in the best condition have been kept in cold storage, Hine says. Like paper or fabric, furs are susceptible to moisture, but also suffer when kept in plastic bags.

“Furs have to be stored properly, or they lose their integrity,” Hine says. “If you buy fur that’s been stored in plastic, it feels different. The plastic makes fur deteriorate, it gets a little stiff, and the guard hairs will come out. It depends on how long it’s been stored in plastic and also, where in the house it was stored, whether in the closet or in the basement. If you want, put it in a pillowcase, something that can breathe. It’s not always best to store it on a hanger, even.”

An ermine, or stoat, in its winter coat. (Photo by Steven Hint)

An ermine, or stoat, in its winter coat. (Photo by Steven Hint)

And, if you’re going to wear a vintage fur, she says, don’t ever carry a shoulder bag or backpack.

“Why are furs considered to be so much more offensive and horrible than eating a steak?”

“When you buy something vintage, you can’t treat it like something brand new,” Hine says. “If you have to wear a shoulder bag, it’s best to wear it cross body, but it’s best not to carry shoulder bags at all with vintage fur. That’s where most of the stress on the fur would be just from hanging for years, on the shoulders and the back of the neck. If it’s going to dry out, that’s where it will.”

Generally, the most desirable vintage furs come the late 1940s up until the 1980s. Great Lakes Mink Association (GLMA), formed in 1941, trademarks its dark minks as Blackglama, while the Mutation Mink Breeders Association (EMBA), founded in 1942, branded its minks as The American Mink and trademarked its fur colors such as Desert Gold (light brown), Argenta (grey), Cerulean (blue), Azurene (pale grey), Jasmine (white), Tourmaline (pale beige), and Diadem (pale brown).

This 1960 ad for EMBA, or the Mutation Mink Breeders Association, boasts about its natural Cerulean blue fur. (Via Found in Mom's Basement)

This 1960 ad for EMBA, or the Mutation Mink Breeders Association, boasts about its natural Cerulean blue fur. (Via Found in Mom’s Basement)

Since the late 1960s, Blackglama has employed big-name celebrities for its ongoing “What Becomes a Legend Most?” ad campaign, including Bette Davis, Judy Garland, Lena Horne, Brigitte Bardot, Rita Hayworth, Liza Minnelli, Ray Charles, Rudolf Nureyev, Cher, and Audrey Hepburn. In 1986, GLMA and EMBA merged to form American Legend Cooperative, still using the Blackglama trademark and advertising.

Throughout the decades, top New York and Parisian fashion houses, including James Galanos, Pierre Cardin, Nina Ricci, and Christian Dior, have all hired top furriers to produce their designs from mink, fox, and other animals. The French fur company Révillon Frères, supplied the furs for Saks Fifth Avenue between 1970 and 1995. As a result, vintage fur now can be found in every style imaginable.

Blackgama's ongoing "What Becomes a Legend?" advertising campaign, started in 1968, features celebrities like Cher and Diana Ross in the brand's dark mink.

Blackgama’s ongoing “What Becomes a Legend?” advertising campaign, started in 1968, features celebrities like Cher and opera singer Jessye Norman in the brand’s dark mink.

“As long as you get a good fit, you’re pretty much good to go,” Woods says. “A lot of people will say, ‘I want this to be short and tight.’ But fur is so delicate, you want it to be looser, and you don’t want to be constricted in your movement because you’ll tear it. It’s delicate. It’s this really thin, little skin.”

These days, fur is worn with anything, for pretty much any activity. For a casual look, Woods recommends a hip-length short swing coat or a knee-length stroller.

“You can pair a stroller coat with jeans, you can put it over a dress, you can put it over a business suit,” she says. “There’s a million ways to wear it. So many fashion walls have been knocked down over the years, and fur isn’t just for dressing up anymore. It’s for doing everything in. It’s your everyday life. I wear it to the grocery store. But then I work from home a hundred hours a week, so going to the grocery store for me is a really good time out.”

Bustown Modern just sold this cropped jacket, made of arctic fox fur. (Courtesy of Bustown Modern)

Bustown Modern just sold this cropped jacket, made of arctic fox fur. (Courtesy of Bustown Modern)

But if you come across a vintage fur in your attic, or inherited a fur from your grandmother that you feel compelled to dispose of, you have several options. On her blog, Samantha Davis details several ways to recycle furs, including programs that give used furs to homeless people in cold climates, turn furs into teddy bears for mothers staying at shelters, and use furs for education and period re-creation.

“In the ’20s, it was more acceptable to parade around wearing the full bodies of dead animals.”

The Coats for Cubs program, started by the Humane Society of the United States and run by Buffalo Exchange, takes furs every winter, starting mid-January and running until Earth Day, April 22. These old furs are fashioned into beds for orphaned wildlife, who associate the texture with their lost mothers. “For orphaned wildlife, they’ve found that the donated furs are particularly effective in lending comfort and giving the feel of a missing maternal figure,” Griffin says.

Griffin says people can send their furs to In Defense of Animals, too. “We have a fur amnesty program, where people can send in their unwanted furs for a tax deduction,” Griffin says. “I actually use those in educational displays, protests, as well as donating them to wildlife rehabilitators. The only way you can prevent that suffering is to not buy or wear fur of any kind. And that’s vintage full-length coats or even gloves with fur trim.”

Orphaned baby rabbits get cozy on a recycled rabbit fur, thanks to Coats for Cubs. (Via

Orphaned baby rabbits get cozy on a recycled rabbit fur, thanks to Coats for Cubs. (Via

Davis, however, believes that vintage fur is essential for solving the problem.

“There are always going to be those who really dislike fur, and then there’s always going to be those in the middle, and then those who really like it,” Davis says. “So how can we get those in the middle and those who really like fur to buy second-hand? How can we change the new fur industry in such a way that they are producing less or turning to second-hand fur to recycle into new looks? If that can become part of the public consciousness, then we can alleviate the problem, because people as a whole are never going to stop liking fur.”

To learn more about identifying vintage fur, see Davis’ post “How to Identify Vintage Mink, Fox, Rabbit, Beaver & Raccoon Furs,” as well as the Vintage Fashion Guild’s Fur Resource. If you are interested in recycling your vintage fur, check out Davis’ article “How to Recycle Vintage Fur.”

86 comments so far

  1. Eileen Says:

    I think JD hit the nail on the head, but it requires a level of honesty that’s not popular. If food animals were treated as the animal activists wanted them to be – we would all be vegetarians abecause we couldn’t afford the final product. Instead of pounding those of us who choose to wear fur (vintage or otherwise) – why don’t you come up with a synthetic product that can duplicate the qualities of fur beyond it’s appearance. Then I’ll listen to you. How many animals died horrible deaths having had their habitat destroyed by encroachment? Maybe we shouldn’t be building highways or cities or driving cars either. Where does it all end?
    Animals taken by ancient cultures I can almost guarantee were not ‘treated well” or skinned in a kinder manner. Yet those who took those animals honored those them by not wasting any part of what they took. Recycling or re wearing vintage furs to me, extends that honor into another generation. I don’t use fur to make keychains, beer coozies or the like. Nor will I support anyone who does. But to produce an item that serves the user gives purpose to that animals hide and life. If your cause is people treating animals horribly to get those furs – then you really should target them and not the end user. Otherwise, it’s like slapping the hand of the tax payer for a government that levy’s unfair taxes. It’s back-ass wards and won’t accomplish anything.

  2. Nan Says:

    I wish humans didn’t need to consume. But, ultimately, its balancing the ecosystem and environment with other animals for our survival and comfort. I don’t plan on living in a cave, so yes, comfort is important. We are animals, and anyone who claims otherwise has a very high opinion of themselves. Fur can also be inexpensive…not everything is mink and sable. I can find Canadian furriers and buy a rabbit scarf for $20 on etsy! And only the delusional would assume that all fur is luxury, and that I purchase items because of their status. I love the skin-touch feeling of fur. Use it conservatively. And, don’t be blind to our meat business. A proper fur can be utilized for 50+ years, while a steak will last 30 minutes on your plate.

  3. Debra Says:

    “Vintage Fur”…. yes, “only Vintage fur. Why? Because it was from a time where people didn’t really know any better, but we have since gotten smarter and have more compassion for the animal. But here’s also another reason why, “Vintage”. Because the animal is already dead, so throwing it out would mean this animal’s fur is trash. NO! This animal has innocently been killed and “that fur” should be worn until it falls apart, and it should no be replace with anything killed after 1979.

  4. Alena Says:

    I don’t understand the hatred that is directed against wearing fur. Yes, it came from an animal. Yes, that animal is necessarily dead- killed for its skin… But animals are animals and humans are humans. Animals should be treated well- that is how responsible and moral people act, however, I do not believe that killing an animal is murder on a par with killing a human! I believe that, in it’s own way, wearing fur is a unique celebration of the animal’s beauty and life, and a way to touch and enjoy that beauty- without having to feed the animal or worry that it will pee on the carpet while I’m at work. Every time I touch or see a fur I am reminded what glorious creatures inhabit this world and what a duty we have to protect them- but we should certainly keep their lives in perspective!

  5. Jo Says:

    Judging people for wearing vintage fur is like telling people who buy antique pianos that they support the ivory hunting industry.

  6. Robin Scheff Says:

    Even though I’m commenting years after this came out, the fact is, no matter whether the animal was butchered for his/her skin and fur yesterday, or butchered and skinned 50 years ago, it’s still barbaric and wearing the body parts of this poor animal is wrong, AND it continues to promote the fur trade. Reject the urge to ‘recycle’ some poor animal’s skin and fur onto your coat or vest or whatever. If this was the skin or hair of a fellow human, you certainly wouldn’t dare to say, “Well, the human died so long ago, it really doesn’t matter now if I use his/her skin and fur to look fashionable, does it?” Come on. Stop rationalizing the brutality of the fur industry, now and the past. The best way to ‘deal with vintage fur’ is to ask forgiveness of the animal who was butchered and bury the skin and fur properly.

  7. Diane Says:

    No one has reasonably answered how wearing fur is any different than carrying popular *brand-name* purses, wearing shearling boots *originating from Australia*, battling cold weather in down coats from a *directionally oriented* brand, or sitting on a leather couch (*pretty sure we can all name these brands and see them repeatedly each day*). Why is wearing fur judged so much more harshly than using these other materials? Let’s focus less on judging each other and more on improving the conditions in ALL animal-related industries. Yes, I own vintage fur, leather products, down pillows and a down coat, I eat meat, AND I do love animals.

  8. Megan Says:

    I really don’t understand the anti-fur arguments. We inbreed animals until they are physically debilitated so badly that just living is painful, and just because we think they are cute. Having a pet is usually just as cruel as wearing fur. Your backyard or house or fish tank etc is no animals natural habitat. Training an animal to hold their bowel and bladder until they go to a litter box or outside isn’t natural. The food we give them isn’t their natural diet. Training animals to act against their nature their entire lives just so we can us them as companions is no less cruel than wearing fur.
    As a human with the capacity of higher reasoning, which other animals lack, I can say I’d rather die on my feet then live on my knees.
    I personally will be leaving my own body to benefit others upon my death. So I hardly feel bad for wearing fur now.

  9. Samantha Says:

    As a vegetarian (from childhood), whilst I would never knowingly buy a real fur item for myself, neither do I condone the breeding of any animal for fur coat manufacture, I have to say that it is very hard to completely avoid all animal skin products (ie leather shoes, boots, belts, handbags). And where do you draw the line? Living in a country which is extremely cold in winter, most coats here are filled with down feathers, as is the bedding. Indeed, some countries in the world do only use natural/animal products as this is what is available locally. In doing this I suppose they are also supporting their local businesses/jobs. I don’t eat meat or eggs, don’t like the taste anyway, don’t agree with the conditions in which animals are bred and kept en masse for the food industry. I loathe even more the way animals are still used for testing pharmaceuticals and cosmetics and not just once for those poor creatures suffer over and over. So again this begs the question of where does one draw the line? I live my life in consideration of trying not to hurt any living creatures or people and I think that is my choice. Each of us will and must make their own decisions on how to live their life, what they wear, what they eat, how they behave. To this end, it is good to have these blogs where different opinions are presented and which provoke thought and open each of us up to other viewpoints and options.

  10. R. Close Says:

    I have read all the pro-fur arguments on this page, and they all sound like the broken records that keeps turning anyone’s stomach. The most ridiculous one is “why not feed the hungry children, instead?” Well, “how many hungry children did you feed today or ANY other time, etc? It’s easy to find excuses to ridicule those who have evolved and respect all forms of life. We are no longer troglodytes who lived in caves and had to hunt & wear the skins of the animals because they didn’t know any better. We now go to the moon, build palaces and produce the richest materials for fashion, so the absurdity of the statement that fur is “good” or fashionable is despicable. Torturing sentient beings in miserable cages then anally electrocute them, skin them alive is something that true human beings should be embarrassed of. YES, they are skinned alive because when the animals are electrocuted they go into a kind of a comma and stay paralyzed but not quite dead while they’re skinned. For those who prefer to feign ignorance, just watch footages of animals being electrocuted and skinned how they are writhe in pain. If you think you are worth so much suffering just to go around exhibiting the skins of tortured animals, then you are as evolved as a cockroach. Finally, “vintage” fur is just as evil because you will be advertising to the world that fur is back in fashion and that it is “beautiful.” Donate your fur coats to fur bearing animal sanctuaries to keep the orphaned babies warm. Most of them had their mothers killed in traps which happens a lot more than what you can imagine. Most leave their babies behind to die of starvation and other horrors. It is not weakness to have a heart and feel compassion for those who so depend on our charitable actions in order to live, quite by the contrary.

  11. Ann Says:

    I think it is neither here nor there that the animal died a long time ago. The fact that animal was bred and killed so a human could wear what is the animals coat is cruelty beyond belief! If you buy this you are aware of how this was made. Why do humans need to kill innocent animals for fashion. It’s not right or okay. Time for fashion to stop using fur. The suppliers only supply a demand. Leave the coat on the creature that owns it.

  12. Anna Donegan Says:

    Fur is Fur. How old the coat or trim is not relevent, the FACT that the pelts were obtained in a cruel fashion is the key point. Humans love to label things, to remove their natural label and invent their own, it is a system designed to covet their guilt, shame or association with the object of their approval, desire, greed, this instance, labelling Fur as ” Vintage” is a get out clasue for those lacking compassion, those incapable of taking the animal/s bashing their heads or anally electrocuting them and then skinning them alive to make the item of clothing they wish to covet their ugly human body with. Fact is, you can roll a turd in glitter, but its still a turd, you can call fur vintage but its still CRUELTY! ANYONE who wears any kind of fur should be made to retrieve the pelts themselves from the animals and see exactly where their fur came from and how it was obtained. There is no lower form of life than a human wearing fur!

  13. Maureen McGill Says:

    Wearing fur shows an ugly soul.

  14. Rhonda Says:

    I can’t believe how hypocritical vegans and vegetarians are wearing fur, vintage is just as bad as new, you can’t justify it by saying “Oh its Vintage” the animals were still slaughtered so YOU can strut around in their remains.
    Fur wearers are disgusting and deserve to be abused for endorsing a cruel barbaric industry.

  15. Mary Aratoni Says:

    whether the fur is old or new does not make it ethical to wear. wearing any kind of fur it advertises it and it makes it ok to wear it. old fur should be thrown away because it has no value in moral kingdom, in other words it is not moral so it has no value so it should not be worn!!!!!!!!!!!!! period!!!!!!!!!

  16. Phyllis dooley Says:

    These women are such hypocrites. Put your money in compassion, stop wearing fur. It’s not attractive.

  17. Th goleby Says:

    In today’s society with all the waste that is created and the technology available to us. There is no need to wear fur, we should put our time into making waste products into clothes. What’s the point in breeding and abusing animals when soon we won’t have a habitual planet to live on. Fur is without doubt cruel there is no need for fur to be worn no need for these animals to be bred anymore after all it’s only commercial greed and vanity that fuels the fur trade. Stop the fur trade and try technology and thinking more!

  18. Szonja Says:

    People,who wear fur are they can tolerate that innocent animals are suffering and tortured for them to be fashionable and rich looking???maybe rich people have no more opportunities to put their money for???or they are simply fashion should be NOT TO WEAR FUR!!!just one designer should have this slogen to change the world!!!its all up to us,to stop the cruelty!!!

  19. LindaLeather17 Says:

    A fascinating insight into vintage fur. This is actually one of the reasons for making and wearing fur coats. As they last for decades it shows them to be eco and environmentally friendly. Instead of throwing the animals into landfill making them into haute couture and very fashionable and desirable garments makes them a must have item for your wardrobe. I have been wearing fur since my early teens. My grandmother gave me one of her fur coats. I so fell in love with it I just had to eventually get my own fur coat. They are gorgeous to wear. Mine will last a lifetime. Wear your fur coat with pride. When worn with leather they look absolutely stunning. I love fur. No apologies. No guilt trip. Just beautiful fur!!

  20. Dennis Hartnett Says:

    I’m nearly 60. When I was in my early 20’s I thought fur coats were the epitome of glamour and elegance. Then I learned what the animals go through. I saw a film about how the animals are skinned while till living, and other atrocious practices. By the time the 30 minute film was over, I was sobbing, and fighting back from vomiting. I swore then the only fur accessory I would ever have is the one I have now, my current kitty cat, asleep and purring in her cat bed next to where I am typing. Every so often, I reach over and give her a stroke, and brother that’s all the fur rush I’ll ever need. As far as the vintage argument, the passage of time does not change what is ultimately true or false. The furs worn in the 20’s, 30’s, etc. caused every bit as much suffering when they were created, and the fact they are still around today does not alter that fact. I’ve heard the argument that the remaining Nazi’s that escaped justice are pushing 100, and are frail with the passage of time, so they should not be brought to justice. YES, I’VE HEARD THIS, and I screamed when I did. Time does not erase what they did. And no, I am not saying they are equal crimes, only that suffering, cruelty, and the like are just as real 25, 50, or more years after they happen. – PS – That pic of CHER, whom I love, is well over 30 years old. I would be greatly surprised and disappointed if she still wears fur today, given the enlightened soul she is.

  21. Terry Says:

    Unless you are a total vegan and don’t eat animals of any kind, don’t use their skins in any way, then you are a hypocrite for condemning anyone who wears fur, whether its’ vintage, or not.

  22. Florence Says:

    I believe there are strict laws that are enforced for people who trap and kill animals so i do not believe the articles above. I have had several fur coats in my time and believe me at minus 40 or 50 below they were nice and warm. I don’t think fake fur is real fur what a joke. My mother wore fur and no-one seen anything wrong with it as dad said it would last maybe 10 years whereas a cloth coat had to be replaced every 2 years so basically he seen it as an investment.

  23. Amy Says:

    I inherited a beautiful coat with a fox-fur collar from my grandmother when she died. My grandparents were not wealthy people, so how they afforded to buy my grandma the coat is a mystery. My grandpa was a gambler, so the going theory is, he had a great night at the poker table once and bought her the coat to placate her after an argument (they didn’t have what you’d call a “peaceful” marriage). Because otherwise, they didn’t have the proverbial pot to you-know-what in.

    I took the collar off her coat and put it on a coat of mine. I love wearing it because it still smells like her.

    I would never buy a new fur, but I have no qualms wearing my grandmother’s vintage fur collar. It meant a lot to her and it means a lot to me. It’s a great way to remember her. She didn’t leave a lot to her kids and grandkids – my uncle jokingly handed me “the family pearls” when we cleaned out her house (they are totally fake). But this was something I have to remember her. I hope people wouldn’t judge me for that.

  24. LoveMyBunny Says:

    I love my pet rabbit, I also liked very much a rabbit coat I had been given as a child. But I know the animals that are used in textiles aren’t the same that wind up in adoption agencies like the one where we got Nibblets. And as far as the electrocution and live skinning is concerned, they cannot have live animals flailing about because one wrong cut and the pelt is garbage. So no, unless it is some idiotic factory or sickos that we are talking about, the true fur industry can’t risk the quality of their product by having these animals writhe about as quite a few posters have said. I read every last post on here, and I have to agree with the fur industry defenders: unless you never killed a bug with your car on a highway, ate a ham sandwich, or wore something leather at some time, then you are no example for me to obey. And to say oh well kill a bug, it’s just a bug…It’s not a fox or rabbit, then you are putting the life of one ahead of another in terms of value, and therefore guilty as well. I think endangered animal killing goes too far, as we risk losing something forever…But animals from qualified farms that are handled according to appropriate standards are the same as the animals killed for steak…Just like I could supposedly get a faux coat instead, I could opt to get tofu and not a steak for dinner. But are we going to eradicate the meat industry? Dying for fur is just like dying for meat in many cases…An animal is being sacrificed for my consumption (whether to go in my belly of over my shoulders). Responsible management and processing is all I ask for. Let me be counted among those who will be the first to say, Hey, I eat meat, I am a part of the animal consumption population, I do not judge others nor do I find anyone has a right to, as we ALL, at some point, affected the life of another animal to it’s detriment (bugs on windshields agree). And while I try my best to unnecessarily cause direct harm, I wish to be honest and say that my track record isn’t perfect, NO ONE’S IS…but I also do not go out of my way to harm/affect creatures. I will eat a properly harvested cow as steak, wear his hide as a belt, and wear a properly harvested pelt to keep warm. Maybe in Hollywood furs are superfluous, but in New York the land of ice and snow from Dec to March, better a vintage fur than a new, damaging-to-the-environment-in-its-construction, petroleum byproduct. Haters, no one is right. Everyone has killed a bug, even flowers feel, grass feels it when it gets doggy tinkles on it, so should we go to court on behalf of the grass? “Well some things are unavoidable”…Yes, and supporting the petroleum market, which is a major element of war/global disaster for those countries rich in it, is one of those avoidable things. We aren’t warring and killing as nations over foxes on farms, but we sure as heck are over petroleum. Haters, cut it out. Wear an old and dead fur and stop giving Eastern countries and the US more reason to see petroleum as black gold, Texas tea, and therefore worthy to kill and fight over. When environmentally friendly coats are affordable and of comparable quality, then I’m willing to talk. Thank you people :)

  25. marc kaufman Says:

    Furs have been worn since the beginning of time. Biodegradable, fully insulated against the cold and fashionably beautiful.

  26. Rachelle Richmodn Says:

    Why can’t people promote their cause without low-class name hurling? I hope their is a way to humanely produce real fur someday. I love fur. And if you throw paint of any color on it, I’ll wring your neck. I am sickened by self-ritious persons. Once a woman hollared out he window that I was a murderous B…ch in my fur as she sped away in her 6 liter gas guzzling suburban. Point your finger and there is four pointing back at you.

  27. Linda Says:

    I will be visiting New York City for the first time in the middle of December this year and I want to wear either my full length mink or my quarterly fox will that be appropriate my daughter says they will throw paint on me please help me thank you

  28. Sammie Clark Says:

    If you have a fur and worried about your trip to NY then I suggest you leave your fur home, NY is not worth the risk, I have fur, I can sew fur and I basically rebuild coats there are so many usable old furs that get thrown out, I grew up on a farm I know how fur is obtained. I wear fur once it’s 20f, I will tell you, nothing is warmer. There is no reason for current killing of animals, People throw furs away for a liner tear. All the fur in the trash can be repaired as long it doesn’t smell bad

  29. Mk Says:

    I love my vintage family furs. They still have the loving scent of my relatives who wore them so proudly. I used to play in my grandmothers fur closet as a child. It was a very safe feeling and wonderful memory. These furs are from the 30’s & 40’s. They keep me warm. And as the wear out I make small pet blankets and cat toys for my local shelter. And they are are always happy to receive them, and do not berate me for using furs that have been worn for all most 80 years. Take a breath folks and share some love not hate please.

  30. S Says:

    I’m glad I stumbled upon this article. I’m contemplating buying a vintage fur lined coat. I see the practicality of repurposing/reusing an old item instead of buying new. I’ve found the quality is usually better in older pieces.
    But a lot of people are still against fur and that’s fine but then where do you draw the ethics line?

    I would challenge a vegan if they are using a computer/phone/tablet etc, they are contributing to ecosystem deterioration and draining limited natural resources and detrimental mining practices. People and animals still suffer the consequences of these practices. Unless you are homesteading on your own land and using no resources such as electricity, gas or even wood then you’re a hypocrite as well.
    I will be the first to admit that I love my tech and I know the impact it has (environmental and emotional) but will still keep buying it and I bet most vegans will too. See how the line gets gray? It’s hard to be all in on one issue and not take into consideration the others and the overall larger picture and how they are all interconnected in some way.
    Maybe I’ll buy that coat afterall…winter is coming

  31. Samantha Says:

    What an interesting article and commentary. I have seen many peta videos and I disagree with animal cruelty. We as humans have the responsibility to behave as humanely as possible. I love animals. I have given many my loving home and care over the years and I currently protect 4- all of which are very happy. Taking home animals that are domestically bred is an act of kindness because they cannot survive as well in nature-what we as humans have made our planet today- or in wildlife because they would get eaten in the food chain. Perhaps a free life causing their death would be my fault for not protecting a domesticated animal by not taking it home with me as it was made to be? It doesn’t sound nice when a squirrel is ripped apart by dogs either, though. What a cruel world we live in.

    I tried to eat a vegan diet a couple of years ago but gave it up because I cannot tolerate soy, lentils, algae or peas at an appropriate amount to get all of the protein required as an athlete (powders are dangerous for the kidneys overtime and a health condition prevented the consumption of this as well). So what would a certified expert propose to deal with that?

    People who criticise like the pro vegan comments above are often hated because you cannot force your beliefs on other people when they may not have the ability to comply, and by extension those are seen as untrustworthy when you are unable to understand the truth around you- you live a lie.
    Vegans might as well be Jainists otherwise you are a lie. Can someone say that an animal’s life is more important than a human’s?- because I and many others would die from a vegan diet. Should we choose which humans can live or die?

    If you live in an urbanised area with freezing temperatures then you will be using salt to melt the ice and snow on the roads which contributes to eutrophication-killing aquatic life that drives all ecosystems. Just living in the area, paying those taxes or by doing anything to support the people who live there you are contributing to the overall decline of the earth via our modern way of life.

    If you take medications of any kind or consume anything that is produced by a company who manufactures drugs- or fund third parties to do this- or visit a hospital, doctor or nurse, then you are contributing to the decline because you are supporting people who have more active roles in animal testing and abuse, as well as fuelling this cycle of more drugs that not only affect more animals and humans but also the state of the environment with the disposal of botched batches etc.

    If you eat then you are a product of the Haber-Bosch process which is used in the fertiliser for your plants. This has increased the nitrogen content on earth, disrupting aquatic life and therefore other habitats and obviously animals. This process has allowed millions more people to exist on a planet that may not be able to handle it, causing deforestation, altered carbon cycle, extinction and the killing of animals.

    Do you now see why there is no line to be drawn? If you live on our planet you are contributing in one way or another. Maybe its 2, 10 or 50 steps before the original idea of this blog, all of these things are connected, and unless we change the way we live as humans and stop progressing and developing or change our inherent biology then veganism will continue to be a lie.

    Or perhaps we are all hypocritical because we don’t do everything in our power to stop all of the atrocities of life?
    Change will be created by attacking the source of the problem at the top, not the people at the bottom who are writing here. The vast majority of our world’s leaders have little foresight into the future of the earth, maybe we can all put our brains together to create real change for the better.

  32. robin Says:

    just what i would want – to put on a fur and look 100 lbs fatter – no thanx! if they want to kill something, try rats.

  33. Melinda Clark Says:

    Im a trapper and we still trap animals. But we also eat the lynx, and beaver. We do not kill all we manage the bush. If we didn’t trap the beaver…. just think there would be no road to drive you precious car and just remember mother nature is more crueler than the trapper.
    And as for the wolves foxes and coyotes, if they were not trapped they would get mange and can be dangerous to you 4 legged dog. So the next time you drive you sports car or walk your dog….thank a trapper.

  34. Amy Fox Says:

    I have a beautiful fox coat. I wear it shamelessly. I love my furs, leathers, etc. Totally unapologetic about my choices. I believe in animal husbandry and all forms of animal use such as hunting, trapping, and eating. I believe in the nose to tail philosophy. Use all parts of the animals. Really don’t care if anyone agrees with me or not. People who raise animals for fur are just as ethical as anyone else, and most of these outfits are very well managed and humane. I find vegans and PETA intolerable.

  35. Conrad Says:

    Consumers are used to faux fur being almost indistinguishable
    from the real thing. But, sometimes, it is the real thing.
    The Humane Society International (HSI), a charity,
    found that British stores were selling fake fur products that originated from real furry animals.
    Boots’ faux fur clips were made of mink, while a Tesco pompom keyring and Fat Face gloves were made from rabbit fur.
    Claire Bass, director at the HSI, says that “[these stores] are all companies which have commendable no fur policies so it is very disappointing when real animal fur has slipped into a store described as faux fur.”

  36. Elias Says:

    Hundreds of beautiful creatures have to be slaughtered for stupid people to wear furs coats in climates that are not even cold to begin with. Fur coats may be a necessity in artic cold weather only.

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