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Jan 18, 2013

The Ethics of Vintage Fur



Readers, I want one of these.  I mean, I really want one.

These type of fur stoles were very popular in the 1940's and can really add a touch of luxury -- and authenticity -- to a vintage outfit.







The most popular were fox, mink, and something called marten.  The quintessential period stole is comprised of three, four or even more pelts sewn together -- heads (complete with glass eyes), feet, and tails intact.  There's often a crochet closure or hidden snap so you can secure it.







Of course, if money and space were no object, I'd spring for something even more glamorous.







I would never purchase fur new.  Even though I'm an occasional meat eater, it bothers me that animals are raised solely for their fur -- let's not even get into how they're slaughtered -- and I don't want to contribute to the contemporary market for fur.  Vintage fur, on the other hand, is a whole other story: the animals were killed decades ago and wearing them doesn't increase the demand for fur.  Or does it?

Cathy adores fur.  Here she sports a shaved rabbit muff -- at least that's what I think it is -- that I found at the flea market for about $10.



Of course, she also has the Seventies-style faux fur coat I made her last year.  Beaver and lynx?  I was never sure.



Then there's her white "mink" stole.  This has more of a late Forties, early Fifties feel than the pieces I'm talking about above.





Finally, her modacrylic tiger skin, straight off a box of Frosted Flakes.



Cathy wants an upgrade and I say let her have one, especially if she's going to model the 1939 McCall's dress I'm working on.

The stoles I'm considering are easy to find and many cost less than a pair of Converse canvas high tops.  I'd probably purchase mine at the flea market where they're plentiful since, like sewing machines, so many women owned one and so few do today.  Etsy and eBay are possibilities, but I think I'd want to touch, try on, and smell my prospective purchase in person.

In closing, readers, what's your comfort level with wearing fur, vintage or otherwise? 

1) I will wear fur new or old, it's all the same to me. 

2) Vintage fur maybe, new fur never.

3) Only faux for me, thank you very much.

4) I do not want to look like I'm wearing an animal, real or petroleum-derived.

Lastly, do you think vintage fur still reinforces a culture of wearing fur and can indeed contribute to the new-fur market?  How about a convincing faux fur?

Jump in!

NOTE: Comments I deem lacking in civility will be removed.

121 comments:

  1. 4) I don't wear fur at all whether real or fake.

    I am concerned that wearing vintage or fake fur creates a market for new by making it fashionable.

    Personal choice though

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  2. Indeed my grandmother had one of the fox stoles with the heads & feet it gave us the willys every time we opened the coat closet & saw the little beady eyes - she also had one or two mink coats.

    I think vintage fur is OK because the animals died long ago - right now I own a 1947 mouton coat which is much admired which as I understand it is sheep or cow hide treated to look like beaver. Very heavy to wear but immensely warm.

    Also have a 1970's coyote jacket that I bought on ebay and back in my college days I had an incredibly gorgeous 1930's opera length black seal coat that had belonged to a female relative of my other grandmother's second husband. In a lifetime of clothes that coat looms large.

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    1. Ooh, a seal coat! What a treasure! It must have been fabulous.

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    2. Totally fabulous - wore it until the skins came apart & it had totally died.

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  3. Number 4 for me. Mainly because i live where it is hot and also it doesn't really fit my aesthetic (i don't like bulky things)

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  4. Interesting. I'm now carrying a leather handbag (a first for me) because it is 4th hand. It was free. I sewed a new lining in it. I'm keeping it from landfill. I'm okay with all of the above. I would not buy it new. Having said that, I don't think I would feel the same way about vintage fur. I don't have a rationalization for these feelings. They just are. Cathy needs to be comfortable with her choice. I won't judge her for wearing vintage fur. I *might* judge her for wearing new fur.

    And faux fur? I don't wear it, but I think it's great! Let's replace all fur with faux fur! Nowadays, with new technology, it can be very convincing.

    The only kind of fur I wear, though, is FUN FUR! The kind that looks like you made your coat from a shag carpet. Nothing convincing about it.

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    1. I miss my bright orange fun fur loveseat!

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  5. I wear any fur - new or old, but then I generally know where the fur or sheepskin or whatnot has come from, so there's no ethical worries there. Even so, despite all the lovely advances in fabric technology and faux fur, there's nothing quite as soft and warm as a real fur coat and hat - so I think even if I were getting it from somewhere else, I'd still wear it.

    Do I have any worries about the "fur culture" or anything? No, but then I'm of the opinion that much of the hysteria around any sort of animal-abuse-in-the-industry is overblown. There'll always be some people that shouldn't be in the business of caring for animals, but to assume everyone does it is just silliness.

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    1. To assume everyone DOESN'T is silliness. There's a mink barn down the street from me in Small Town, USA that anally electrocutes the animals. Are you naive enough to believe that it isn't the standard to make their product in the cheapest, cleanest, easiest, and most efficient way for the maker?

      I'm not attacking you for wearing fur; but for saying it's silly to assume people are cruel. Of course people are cruel! Do you remember pink slime?

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    2. I would never ever wear new fur. I live in Finland where there is an active debate on whether the country should ban the raising of animals solely for their fur.
      Thinking that the cruel treatment of animals in fur trade is an exception to the norm is just naive. The cruelty is not due to people being cruel but the norms being too lenient. Even if (and most do) the farm would follow all the norms there currently are for raising fur animals I would never ever by new from them.
      The wild animals are being kept in cages with wire "floors" which is not good for their paws. They have about 1m3 of space per 2 animals and a wooden block for stimulation. This is not the way any animal should live their life especially not an animal that has not been domesticated. They get stressed and physically sick from the unnatural conditions.
      As for the butchering: animals living in the wild tend to die in horrible ways and weighing the cruelty they have to suffer during their (short) lives with the cruelty of their short deaths I really do care more for their everyday living conditions. Anal electrocution is NOT nice but I really mind the cages more.

      And as for Peter's question I'm in between 2 and 4 but leaning more to 4. I do think wearing fur old or new promotes consumption of new fur. But I have to admit fur (if done tastefully, I've seen some REALLY horrible examples on Russian tourists and older Finish ladies..) is very glamorous and oh so soft and warm. But it should be a true luxury good where the price is high enough that the animals could be raised (and killed) in a more humane way.

      And I'm mostly vegetarian, where the mostly part comes from me eating game.

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    3. I totally agree that fur, and other items that obtain their value from animals and other undervalued but important resources should be priced higher, with the money being used to manage those resources better.

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  6. I would say a big NO to wearing fur, some of it is actually skinned alive! In the UK you just never see people wearing fur, well if you do they tend to be Italian tourists, I saw one the other day and thought god how many dead things can one person wear. People actually make comments to people who wear fur over here it’s just not socially acceptable. I once found a 1920’s coat made from those black and white monkeys, I couldn’t even bring myself to touch it. So no don’t do it!!!

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    1. Making snide comments to someone wearing fur IS socially acceptable?!

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    2. To me, it certainly is. (A different anonymous).

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    3. Treating someone rudely because they've transgressed a politically correct idea du jour is self-focused and self-righteous. It's trying to inflict your belief system (in a nasty way no less--not a likely way to win converts) onto someone who has done nothing intentional to you.

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  7. Well I wouldn't wear the ones you are considering bc I find them gross and a bit creepy but that is hardly a political view just a gut reaction. I had a fur coat once in I think second grade maybe forth who can remember these things anyways. It was rabbit and very soft but I wouldn't buy one today. I do eat meat and wear leather shoes so I guess I don't really know. I wouldn't buy new or old fur these days just bc I don't like the look anymore plus I know many people who would find it upsetting. I do still have my mom's fax leopard coat from I think the late 60s or maybe early 70s and haven't worn it in a while but likely will again.

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  8. i just inherited a closet full of vintage (80s) fur coats so i am dealing with this very question! i eat meat and wear leather, but try to be mindful, and i think i come down on the side of second-hand and old fur being more acceptable than new fur. rationalization? perhaps. but my mother loved her coats and i want to use them and honor them somehow.

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    1. Plus, what would the alternative be? To trash them?

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    2. Here's a good use: find someone who can make them into teddy bears. I'm not trying to drum up business here, but my mom uses vintage furs to make old-fashioned style jointed teddy bears and they are beautiful. She often has customers who have inherited fur coats from their mothers/grandmothers/aunts, etc. but who don't want to wear the coats for ethical/personal reasons. They send them to my mom and she can sometimes get more than one bear out of them, depending on the size of the bear. One woman knew that her grandkids would never wear her furs so she had bears made for them as gifts. My mom has made bears from mink (in various shades), beaver, Russian pony, and Persian lamb. She may have worked with other furs, but I know these 4 for certain. The only thing that can make it difficult to use a vintage fur is if it's been stored in an extremely dry and hot environment, since it can dry out the skins and make them brittle.

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    3. Peter, some animal shelters and wildlife rehab centers accept old furs. They put them in with the animals for nest material.

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  9. I would say #2 for me. Vintage fur yes, new fur no. I also am of the mindset that it has already been around for ages and I do think it adds to a demand of new fur. I also feel like the styles of "new" fur don't have the same appeal to me as the vintage ones. Or at least that is what my theory is :)

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  10. My concern with fake fur isn't whether it increases the market for real fur, rather how polluting is it of the environment? That said, as I type this I have four pieces of fake fur sitting there, waiting for me to finish my work so that I can turn them into collars, so my concerns can't run that deep... I'm quite ambivalent about real fur, even vintage, but only because I'm scared to wear it and get abuse for it on the street. Otherwise, I eat meat, I wear leather, and as long as the fur is a by-product and/ or farmed humanely, and the species not endangered, I don't see how it differs.

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    1. But - it occurred to me just after I'd posted this - although I would happily wear vintage fur, I won't wear ivory, even antique. The thought of elephants being massacred then or now for the sake of a bangle or a piece of jewellery is abhorrent to me.

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  11. Stick me in the vintage and fake camp. I'm not a huge fur fan, but I like a little here and there. (My favorite casual denim jacket is faux mink lined.)

    I was THRILLED when I found two small matching fox pelts in Nowhereville, Virginia a couple of years ago. At $10 for both in very good condition, I was over the moon. I put them on and instantly realized that my cat hair allergy applies to fox fur as well. gah! Big bummer.

    People have been wearing fur since the first cave dweller got cold. I don't think that's going to change anytime soon. My husband doesn't like me to wear fur because of the political implications; I'm more concerned with how ethically the animals have been treated and where the profit goes. With vintage fur, what's done is done and ultimately, I'm supporting charity because I will only buy it via secondhand shops that are not for profit.

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    1. I agree about the cave dweller sentiment. I don't really believe in giving up meat or animal products on ethical grounds, because consuming (or wearing) these things is part of who we are as a species. But we don't have to be animals acting on primal instincts: we can think about how to be ethical consumers - i.e. trying not to buy new fur if it was cruelly produced or trying not to eat meat from factory farms.

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  12. I have vintage fur garments, and I love them. There is a delicate quality to them that faux fur simply cannot achieve, however I strictly buy them vintage. This stems from personal taste, as I prefer to buy vintage, but I also (for the most part) don't support contemporary fur garment production.
    Sometimes I'm torn between the love of fashion, and animal rights. For example, I prefer real leather as opposed to vegan leather. Vegan leather looks cheap, barely survives more than a month of wear, and feels nothing like real leather. I have an addiction to the real, and reject the synthetic. However, I am sensitive to animal rights, especially those that are endangered. Killing a little fox for its coat seems atrocious in my eyes. What happens to the fox's body? How is it utilized? I don't believe it is. Sharks are having their fins sliced off for soup and their live, thriving bodies are thrown back into the ocean...where, unable to swim they die. Not only is this horrifically cruel, but where is the logic? If you're going to catch an animal, you damn well better make use of it in its entirety.
    Aboriginal people will make use of an animal in its entirety, right down to the bone. I am impressed by this. I don't feel there is much of a problem in regards to animal farming, provided they are not being farmed solely for their fur. If all of the animal is utilized, and the animal is humanely cared for, then it is acceptable. To my knowledge, not many people would request mink meat, so some animals couldn't possibly make it on the market (which is a good thing). I know in some countries people enjoy eating rabbit, so why not make use of the pelts?
    In the states (Florida I believe) they are having issues with overpopulation of giant pythons, which are not indigenous to the area. As a result damage is occurring to the ecosystem. Many of the snakes are being killed off. My question is, why not utilize their bodies? These creatures are being killed because there is no other option; so make handbags and shoes out of them, and sell the meat to those willing to eat it.
    I don't think that a few people wearing a real vintage fur coat (per city) is going to create a landslide in the demand for fur. If you ever get judged for wearing it, just lie and tell that person it's a really expensive fake. The only thing I do caution, is not buying anything tiger. Seriously. Someone may claim it's vintage, it could be, but there are still poachers out there killing them because someone thinks it's 'cool', and 'high class'. If you buy into that part of the market, you could very well be supporting those efforts. I love tigers, do not mess with them.

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  13. I don't particularly like the look of fur in probably 95% of cases and I don't own any, but I do like to wear leather. I have recently bought new leather boots, but I definitely prefer the second hand option. I suppose I'm somewhere between a 1 and a 2, but leaning toward 2.

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  14. I wear a lot of vintage fur. I have two coats with fur and a cur capelet. It's already been made, I wouldn't want it in a landfill, it's economically less expensive than new and it just doesn't bother me. I have one new fur that I bought in China for earmuffs. I have a new fur hat and muff that a friend bought for me when she was in Ukraine.

    So, high horse here. I don't eat meat and I eat a minimal of animal products. It drives me bananas that people get upset about fur when there are alternates to eating meat. So, my take is that I make up in fur what I don't take out in beef, chicken etc.

    So, I sleep just fine at night about fur.

    I'm going to email you an awesome resource for the kind of fur you want.

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  15. I have a stole just like the ones you picture. It came from my sophisticated Chicago aunt, via my mother. It has the glass eyes and an aligator clip in one of the mouths. I love it, but feel a little self-conscience wearing it. I also have a little mink hat that I picked up at a garage sale. My daughter (12) loves both. I think fur is wonderful, but don't care for the way it is harvested. I would only wear vintage fur and not anything new.

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  16. I would say 2), if I were lucky enough to have it. I come from a long line of fur trappers, every generation since the mid-1800s when my German ancestors came here and settled in a nearly wild place where fur was plentiful and still is. Unfortunately, that fur is muskrat (with an occasional wild mink). Also, unfortunately, no one made anything from it, they just sold it to make a living. All except the first generation, apparently, because I have a photo of a great-great aunt in a fur coat, which I presume is muskrat. But I agree, the wearing of fur now would create a market, and I don't like that idea. Slippery slope, blurry line, yada yada.

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  17. Hmmm, I don't know. I don't mind some vintage fur coats because, like you say, they are already dead. But I have to confess that I'm a little creeped out by the fox stoles. I am also creeped out by eating meat when it still looks like the animal it came from. I get so sad when I see those rotisserie chickens spinning around in the oven! I'm a weirdo. I would never encourage new fur. But then again, I do wear leather. Does that make me a hypocrite? I never really thought about it.

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  18. As far as I'm concerned, the only thing sadder than someone buying new fur today is seeing piles of vintage fur that never gets worn and instead ends up in the trash. I am by no means an animal rights activist - I'd rather spend my energy worrying about people's rights, you know?! - but I don't support or condone the modern fur industry. That being said, I think it's terribly wasteful to throw away vintage fur. The animal already died, throwing the fur out is not going to bring it back. And I don't like to wear fake fur; it feels weird and I can't imagine how badly the production impacts the environment.

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  19. 3 and 4... Yeah, I know it doesn't sound sensible, but I can use small doses of FAUX fur in accessories or details, but I would never wear a full fur coat. Nor could I ever use real fur.

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  20. Oh, there is one of those stoles in my mother's attic - it was my grandmother's. It creeped me out as a kid.

    I'm in the faux only camp, but that is more because I'm sadly allergic to virtually all fluffy creatures (seriously, I had a very bad accidental experience with an angora sweater one time.) I'm not sure what my feelings on the matter would be since I haven't had to contemplate it. I do wear leather and eat meat, although I try to live in an ethical and thoughtful way. I'm pretty sure new fur would be out of the question for me.

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  21. It depends on where you live whether or not I feel fur is appropriate. I used to live the in the far north (close to the 60th parallel), and if you live where it is at least -30C most of the winter, I say yes to wearing fur, if you want to. Nothing man made is close to being as warm as fur. Having said that, I still didn't wear fur. Anywhere else no. Period. There is no need.

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  22. I do not believe that animals should be mistreated. I grew up on a farm and the animals we raised for market were treated much better than I was (they were profitable, I was a money pit with no foreseeable income) .

    Vintage fur, in my mind, is a no brainer. No one can go back and save an animal from whatever cruelty it sustained. Enjoy it now, because it is historial and a reminder of how we should treat animals now because we know better. Not wearing it or displaying it won't change anything. It only creates landfill.

    Faux fur is fun! Enjoy! Other than chemical processes (of which there are more than just faux fur involved, I'm sure) that probably pollute our waters and lands, it's harmless and fun. Probably all polyester and acrylic fall into the pollution category, but I have not studied enough to know the facts on that one.

    Contemporary fur? I would say it depends. If the entire animal is used, I'm ok with it. I spend a lot of time in Alaska where fur is a way of life. I have a couple of fur pieces made by Alaskan Natives who captured the animals and used the entire animal, selling the furs or making things out of them either for their own use or for sale. Alaskans do not overfish or over hunt. They respect the land and the sea. In the spring, they return the seal bladders back to the sea as a ceremony of thanks for all that the sea gave them to survive the winter.

    I do eat meat and I do wear leather. I also wear fur. But only in Alaska. It is the only thing that will keep the wind and cold from slicing through to my flesh.

    I mean not to offend anyone. I am merely providing a different perspective.

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  23. I wouldn't wear it, real or fake, simply because it doesn't fit within my personal style. I just don't like the look of it, and my climate isn't cold enough to require a fur coat. I'm a vegetarian who wears leather shoes (simply because I have 'difficult' feet and I've never come across vegan shoes of the same quality) but I buy my leather bags or belts second hand, and wouldn't wear a leather jacket or gloves or any other clothing item (again, not necessary and not my style). It sounds a bit complex I guess, but leather is just a really good material for shoes while there are enough suitable alternatives when it comes to jackets or gloves.

    So no, I wouldn't wear fur. I have this sort of grey fur skin from my grandma's dress-up chest lying around and I don't even like to touch it.

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  24. Long time readyer, first time responder.... I am definitely saying 2. I would not buy new fur nor do I find it particularly attractive on a guy. But, I do have a few vintage furs I inherited from my grandmother. I use them for drag. I'd never buy a new fur for Drag either, but I'd rather that the furs I have got some use instead of being thrown away. I do love fake fur. I've used it many times to make costumes.

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  25. I love my furry things!! I have two fox stoles, a faux mink stole, a couple of fur coats and hats, and plenty of real and fake fur collars and cuffs. I even have a mink and pearl necklace! Generally though, the faux cannot compare to the real. Mine are all thrifted or hand me downs. People give them to me because they know will wear them and enjoy them and not let then languish in a closet. They are really warm, too.
    The only thing stopping me from buying a new fur coat is that I'm too cheep!!

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  26. I too have rescued several furs from the closets of little old ladies. Minks, beaver and bobcat. I wear them with respect and pride, i have a wonderful working relationship with animals both in spirit and in person. I wouldn't buy new, just rescue and reuse. Older furs make great Vests...usually because the lady it was contracted for has much shorter arms than I do.

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  27. I think the concern about raising animals for their fur is an emotional (as opposed to rational) and misguided reaction. They're animals, not people. Projecting the inherent value of a person, and all the attendant emotions of a person, onto an animal, is a fantasy. OF COURSE, treat the animals humanely. OF COURSE, protect endangered species. But there's really no other reasons to be concerned about it.

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  28. I'd have to say that I'm somewhere between 2 and 3. I don’t think I would ever purchase a modern fur garment. I even tried to stay away from leather for a while but realized that was pointless since I wasn't a vegetarian. I still do love the look of fur and have been thinking about experimenting with faux fur in the future.

    Vintage is another matter. I have to echo the thoughts of other posters here in not wanting an existing garment to contribute to a landfill, but what are the alternatives? I have a vintage mink coat that belonged to my grandmother. It’s beautiful, but completely not my taste and I have no idea what to do with it.

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  29. 2) for me - although I don't know where I would wear it. But I have a deep inner desire to rescue a fox stole from a dusty old thrift shop or flea market and wear it around my home some evenings to give it some love. I don't condone new fur, and faux fur isn't my thing, but the foxes really get to me - it's irrational.

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  30. Since I haven't seen anyone mention this (or maybe it is because I live in an area that this effects), but what about new fur from animals killed to cull a destructive invasive species? I live in New Orleans and the Nutria is a huge pest (literately and figuratively) that is destroying our wetlands and levee system. There is a current bounty on their pelts. Why can't furs like this be used? After all, they were originally brought here to be raised for their fur.

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  31. I inherited quite a few furs from my husband's grandmother, as well as a crocodile purse, that have been sitting for 40 or 50 years in the closet. I don't mind it because it is vintage, however I do feel unsure about the (albeit beautiful) black astrakhan pieces since I learned where they came from. I think we may even have one of the stoles you are looking for. I have a collar that I plan on using someday for a coat.

    I live outside of Paris and see fur all the time. It just depends on what neighborhood you are in.

    Interesting timing...they've been putting the live action 101 Dalmatians on Disney channel over here. I would consider Cruella De Vil a bit excessive......

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  32. I totally think wearing vintage fur contributes to a culture of wearing fur at all that only leads to a modern upsurge in the market. As to fake, yes it could be convincing if you don't pay attention, but it doesn't need to be. I prefer to wear it aggressively fake.

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  33. No doubt, this is about personal choice, but I am decidedly in the pro-fur camp. I wear new fur and vintage fur. I do prefer vintage when it's in good condition, largely because it's environmentally-friendly and because well-preserved vintage has stood the test of time.

    IMO, if one eats meat or wears any animal product, it's disingenuous to play the ethics card. Eating an animal (and I do eat animals) is incredibly wasteful. A fur coat can last 100 years if stored properly and will keep you warmer than you'd ever imagine. In Canada, where I live, that's meaningful. I wear a fur coat and hat (both vintage). The coat is about 40 yrs old. The hat more like 60.

    I support the ethical killing of animals, but if we're going to use them in any way (for clothing, furniture, shoes or food), I don't think it's fair to malign fur. It's probably the least wasteful and most practical use of a dead animal.

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  34. I'm definitely in the "vintage but not new" category. Firstly: I have gotten all my (beautifully made) vintage fur pieces for a song. I'd be hard pressed to find the style and furs I like brand new without dishing out a small fortune. I'm also frightfully cold all the time, and frankly wearing real fur does keep me warm. I will never forget how cozy my favorite mink jacket was when I wore it in 20 degree weather with the wind blowing! A regular, woven coat would not have insulated me quite that well. ;) I'm kind of with Lauren in the point about worrying more about people's rights, then animals. Do I wear my real furs a lot? No, sadly. I have gotten some rather catty comments about wearing fur (I think they're just jealous of my fab 40s mink swing jacket with out-to-here Joan Crawford shoulders). And I also don't want to be flashy most of the time. We went to a fancy holiday party right before Christmas, and I hemmed and hawed over wearing my mink versus my fake leopard print coat. In the end, the leopard print won. I got enough grief from other women that night for having the audacity to upstage them with my "vintage look" and be 26 weeks pregnant at the same time. *rolls eyes* I can only imagine what the mink would have incurred! I admit though, I have been on the hunt for a full length 40s or 50s fur coat (not sure what type yet--too many options) to add to the collection. ;)

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    1. Oh, and just to clarify about the animal right's comment: I do care about animals (part of the reason I don't buy new fur). But for me, there are often bigger issues to contend with in life than whether one should wear fur or not!

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    2. Like what? And do you actually contend with them? No? Then how are animal rights less relevant for someone who does care?

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    3. Anonymous, please no direct attacks.

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  35. While I'm disclosing, I should also say that the one thing I would NEVER wear is faux fur. I think that stuff is hideousness itself. It feels horrendous and it NEVER approximates the real thing. Also, it's bound to live a zillion years in a land mine. So, if you want to know my area of irrevocable prejudice, there it is. :-)

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  36. Contemplating the little (whole) animal stoles brings back a memory: my cousins and I located a den of these in my grandmother's closet. We were discovered gently playing with the critters and consequently received a heavy scolding. Those pieces went back into the closet, never to come out again until after my grandmother's death 25 years later. Of course by that time they were all dried out and shedding and were thrown away. It makes me sad to think that we could at least have enjoyed playing with them and stroking their smooth fur.

    I recently made a faux fur vest and discovered a distinct problem with fake for me: I was terribly sensitive to the chemicals in it and I can't wear the thing at all.

    If I'm lucky enough to come into possession of a vintage fur, I will certainly wear it (and pet it and play with it, probably). I have a hard time imagining myself buying a new fur for reasons having more to do with practicality and economics than with thinking that fur farming is somehow uniquely less humane than other ways humans use animals.

    Cathy looks great in fur!

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  37. I wear leather shoes, boots and handbags, so do millions of people, even vegetarians. Leather is always fashionable but what is is ? fur without hair !!
    So I don't mind wearing real fur (as a trim or accessory, not a garment, way too hot for me even in a Canadian winter). And I own a faux shearling coat.

    Still, those vintage fur stoles with the hanging body parts are a bit creepy..... I'd rather not be reminded where the stole comes from !!

    Eve

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  38. With respect to vintage, it's been dead for years and it seems more respectful to wear it with pride than to chuck it in the landfill.

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  39. When buying fur, I will only buy vintage.
    However, I have had family members and friends give me new "wild" fur. From something they killed hunting (for food, to protect farm animals, etc.) I don't have a problem with that either.
    As far as buying new clothing, I try to buy as little new clothing as possible (vintage is better quality most of the time and I don't have to worry about the labor that made it).

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  40. I remember my mother having a fur coat. The story was she saved up all her clothing coupons to buy it, and bagged herself a husband. As a child I can remember stroking it, probably not realising then what it was. Me Im going with No. 2.

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  41. If I had a nice fur piece I'd have no problem with wearing it but vintage especially. I mean the animal is already long dead. I also wear leather shoes and coats so to me there's no difference in wearing fur. However, I just can't stomach those fur pieces with the head and feet attached. I'm creeped out by them.

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  42. I'd always been pretty appalled by fur, until I was living in Wisconsin and my aunt gave me a rabbit fur scarf for Christmas. Ohmygod, it was SO MUCH WARMER than any wool scarf I owned, despite being a tiny wisp of a thing. That scarf saved me from so much misery standing in -10 degree cold waiting for the bus. Still, I never bought any additional fur because of the inhumane production practices of the fur industry. I don't understand why no one has started a humanely-raised fur business. It seems like there would be a market for it. If I still lived someplace like Wisconsin, I would definitely be interested in buying a nice fur-lined hat or mittens if I could be assured that the animals lived and died as humanely as possible.

    Oh, and my grandma had one of those fox stoles with the head and feet. My mom keeps trying to give it to me, but the thing squicks me out!

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  43. I was anti-fur until I lived up north — way up north (in Yellowknife, NWT). There, I learned fur was the only thing that could actually keep you warm in truly cold weather. At that time I also began to consider how producing synthetic winter wear could have a much larger environmental footprint than a fur, considering that synthetics like fleece or Gore-tex are produced from non-renewable petroleum products. (Gore-Tex, for one, is also made using persistent environmental contaminants). If you care well for your fur, it can last a lifetime, and will keep you from buying petroleum products that will lose their effectiveness far more quickly!

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  44. No... while the whole ethics of it could take volumes, the fact is that I've never ever understood the fascination with wearing the pelt of a dead animal - with glass eyes! No thanks.

    Eskimos in Alaska wearing fur to survive - that I get. A dead animal as a fashion accessory?? Just honestly never understood it...

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  45. I don't wear fur because I'm quite circular in shape and anything furry makes me look like an enormous teddy bear: not a good look for a 50 year old woman, though as a child I did love the fox stole my grandma had. However, I eat meat, wear leather, and in principle have no problem with farming an animal for its fur; much better to raise rabbits than trap tigers. The big problem comes in how the animal is treated and killed, which is why, if I did want fur, I'd never buy Chinese fur as the farming conditions and slaughter techniques are entirely barbaric. I wholeheartedly agree with the commenters who would like us to use the whole of an animal, and that's one reason why I'm cool with leather; the rest of the beast got eaten. I also agree that it's better to wear vintage fur then consign it to landfill or just let it rot.

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    1. If you like fur, but don't wear it because of your body shape, gorgeous throws can be made from vintage fur. Such a lovely thing to cuddle up under on a cold winter evening.

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  46. I like the idea of having a vintage fur, but have yet to acquire one. I'm not entirely sure where I'd wear it, but I'm sure I'd find or invent an occasion.
    I'm torn on the idea of new fur. There's already plenty of un-ethical clothing out there, does there really need to be an un-ethical fur resurgence? Yes, there could be kinder, gentler fur farms (at least up to the point where they kill the animal), but if fur became on-trend again, you know plenty of people would skip the higher priced ethical versions and go straight for the bargain area which probably wouldn't be sourced from anywhere anyone would want to take a tour. I'd love to have a '50's headband type hat made of white rabbit fur. Since that's such a specific thing, I have a feeling I'd have to make it new. I'm not sure I could sew up a pelt without getting squeamish. It was bad enough having to dissect a cat in my college days. Then again, at least a pelt wouldn't reek of formaldehyde.

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  47. I have a few vintage fur collars and cuffs tucked away that I hope to use in a coat project. My mother-in-law gave them to me. I don't think I would buy a new fur for myself, but if someone gave me one as a gift, would I refuse it? I don't think so (but for the record, I prefer jewels, LOL). My kids, though, would be very upset. They are adamantly against the wearing of fur and would give me endless grief. So I guess I am #2, though my family makes me #3.

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  48. I think reusing, which includes vintage fur, is always better than just tossing it. They were already dead, don't let it go to waste. I wouldn't mind occasionally investing in something with fur trim, since it will be well used in New England winters - I've got a trappers hat lined with rabbit that I've had since high school (now 3 years out of college) and it is still like new. A fake fur hat would have bit the dust after maybe 2 years. So I think in the long run it's like the leather vs. pleather. debate for me. It is terrible that an animal is killed and I wish it was done in a more humane way, but a good pair of leather shoes will last years longer and therefore probably has a much smaller environmental impact, not to mention that it will actually decompose.

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  49. Véronique in MontréalJanuary 18, 2013 at 2:05 PM

    I love fur, I love leather. Fur is no longer acceptable socially. To be honest, then why do we also wear leather? Eat steak? All ethical debate aside, for most of us, wearing fur is no longer even a necessity with modern technology to keep us warm with lightweight coats. Vintage fur, like vintage anything is better reused that thrown away. Keep warm!

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  50. About a decade ago I would have said no to fur. But now, vintage fur all the way.
    A good friend gave me a fox two years ago. Indeed, totally fre. Because nobody wanted it. Since then my vintage fur collection has grown quite a bit. When I think about Hollywood stars of the 40's and 50's all I see is fur and rhinestones/diamants! And I love both ;)

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  51. Alex in CaliforniaJanuary 18, 2013 at 2:21 PM

    Wow! A polarizing subject.

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  52. Personally speaking: I don't wear fur at all. Only occasionally I will wear fake fur that is very OBVIOUSLY fake. Where it's more likely to inspire people to wear stuffed animals than an actual animal. :)

    I do feel that wearing vintage fur promotes the wearing of fur in general, which in turn promotes the modern fur industry. My stepmother was raised on a chinchilla farm and it was her job as a child to kill the chinchillas. Her stories haunt me -- and especially haunt her -- and I don't feel there is anything positive to come from wearing fur. /just my humble two cents.

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  53. I don't have a problem with people buying or wearing fur, new or old. I personally don't have any fur, I have not ever seen any that has spoken to me.

    As for vintage v. new fur..

    Everything just seems so disposable today. We are so disconnected with where things come from and what it takes to make them that we purchase cloths with no thought of it lasting more than one season, or that it was made in deplorable conditions. Using this idea of "fashion" it does seem wasteful to kill an animal to adorn ourselves for one or two years and then discard it and move onto the next trend.
    While vintage fur - yes, it's already been killed - the animal was killed and made into an article of clothing or accessory in a time when things like that were meant to last a lifetime. When women saved and saved to purchase a fur coat and it lasted them their entire lives and then was passed down to someone else. This idea of using an animal for clothing is much easier to reconcile for me. So I would vote vintage, or modern, if it is meant to be a special purchase that will be used for years to come.

    Can't wait to see Cathy's new look.

    Cindi

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  54. I wore bunny fur as a child and I regret it, they are simply too cute for me to kill. I still wear leather and eat meat. I am trying to buy more ethically raised products though. I think of this like voting- if you don't vote at all, politicians assume it's because you don't care and don't bother to find out what you wanted from them. If you at least put a write-in candidate on the ballot, they know you care and aren't happy with your ballot choices. I think that it is possible to produce meat without torturing the animals in their lifetimes. If I simply stop buying meat or animal products, the meat producers just ignore me and go on business as usual. If I spend the money to buy from farms that do treat their animals humanely, I signal to the whole industry that is what I want and I am willing to pay to get it. I think that if you choose to wear fur by paying attention to the source of the fur, you can send the same kinds of signals for what reforms you want. I would be ok with fur though from some sources, like the nutria fashion aimed at using the pelts of an invasive species that needs to be culled anyway. I was sorely tempted to buy this wild costume bustier on etsy, http://www.etsy.com/listing/86378968/alligator-head-bustier-with-nutria-fur
    In the debate about elephants, most of the knowledgeable wildlife and conservation groups say that making ivory legal will increase the demand for ivory and poaching will increase. I don't think wearing vintage fur will necessarily increase the demand for the pelts of wild animals (endangered lynx pelt etc) but it probably would make fur wearing of certain animals more socially acceptable.

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  55. 4 for me. Mostly just because fur is not my style. My grandmother did a whole collection of fur, which is in my mother's possession now. One of those stoles, plus a mink jacket, and several ribbon jackets with fur collars. I wouldn't wear them myself but in the pictures of her wearing them she does look really glamorous.

    I have used the vintage argument before when defending the ethics of my diamond wedding/engagement rings. It flies with some people in my circle, other not so much.

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  56. #4 Never real, never new, never vintage. I try very hard to limit my consumption of meat and use of leather products also. I even have vegan shoes that are stylish and comfortable- got them at REI.

    I just feel that I shouldn't kill an animal to make clothes when there are other alternatives.

    Yes, I guess you would say I am one of those crazy liberals from California.

    I'm just trying to unify my personal belief system with the way I live. I love animals. I think they have little souls too. I try not to harm living creatures when it can be avoided. I realize it can't always be avoided, but in the case of fur clothing it most definitely can be.

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  57. I tend to agree with you on the subject of fur. My personal stance. New fur: NEVER. Vintage fur: YES PLEASE!!! I have a few mink coats of varying lengths and colors, along with a mink stole (all but one of these are family pieces as well, so there was no financial output on my part and it's nice to have things that belonged to my grandmothers and great-grandmothers). I also have a couple of fox collars, a mink pillbox hat that was my great-grandmothers, and a stone marten stole with five martens. I wear them all and love them. The coats in particular are the warmest things I own (and the most comfortable now that my new pregnant shape doesn't fit in my usual winter coats very well).

    On the subject of vintage fur wearing contributing to the modern fur market, I don't think that there is as strong a correlation here as some might believe. That being said, in my personal experience, most vintage fur wearers are usually fairly committed to the vintage style overall, and do not participate as fully as most in the mainstream clothing market as a whole. Therefore there fur wearing is also relatively confined to the same sub-culture, slightly isolated from mainstream clothing industries. Those who are not inclined to purchase and wear vintage fur will most likely not be inclined to purchase and wear new fur either, and those buying vintage fur are often doing so because of the value of the piece as a vintage clothing item, and not because of it's simply being a perhaps more affordable fur item.

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    1. Just one last comment, I promise. I hate fake fur. Refuse to wear it. I'd rather not have any at all than wear faux fur. Personal choice.

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  58. Well, I lived through the 80s, and I had a full length fur coat back then. Plus, when I was in 3rd grade, a mink brought around to my elementary school by the science center turned around and bit me, requiring a trip to the emergency room, three stitches and a tetanus shot. As you might imagine, I have no love for the little buggers.

    That said, I wouldn't buy a fur today new. I don't have any real moral objections to them; they just don't fit into my lifestyle. I have no objections to vintage fur, though I will admit that Kenneth King brought a vintage gorilla fur coat to a class I took once, and that kind of skeeved me out.

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  59. PS - I'd have to see it in person, but the muff looks like it might be sheared beaver from the picture.

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  60. MPB, whatever your feelings on wearing fur, vintage or otherwise, could you reconsider the sort of fur stoles that you showed pictures of at the beginning of the post? I like meat as much as the next person, and I'd consider wearing vintage fur, but for those...they kind of scream, "I am wearing a preserved dead animal carcass!"

    Ew.

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  61. My grandma had one of those stoles of pelts with the eyes and I was fascinated and horrified by it in turns. She didn't wear it anymore and I think my aunt liberated it from the front closet at my grandparents' house when she was deep in her vintage phase in the mid-80's. My mom had a lovely ivory coat with an off-white fur collar and a matching muff back in the early to mid-60's. I have the muff now but I don't know where the coat ended up.

    I would wear vintage fur because, as many have said, the animals have been dead for years. I don't support the modern fur industry because the animals are raised for the pelts. Leather, OTOH, is something that comes from animals whose other parts are being used for meat, so I feel as though it's a way of using the entire animal. Additionally, leather shoes last far longer than the so-called 'vegan' ones, they breathe with your feet and can be repaired far more easily than their non-leather counterparts, thus prolonging their life and cutting down on consumption of shoes, my shoe fetish not withstanding. :) That and faux leather shoes are almost always made of polyurethane, which is a petroleum product.

    As I mentioned before, vintage furs can be recycled into non-garment items, such as the teddy bears that my mom makes and I would encourage people who have furs with sentimental value but who don't want to wear fur to find a way to recycle them.

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  62. Tricky, this. I inherited my grandmother's and great aunt's furs. I love them, but never actually wear them out of the house. Part of it is the super-costume-y look, I'm sure. But, if we are being honest, I'm sure a part of it is that it is actually fur. I might still have one of those glass-eyed creature stoles somewhere. It always scared me as a child, plus it was so, so dusty!

    I did have a vintage shearling coat that I wore to death though. Oh, and a fur hat too, way back when. (the fur was subtle)

    I also love the idea of faux fur (especially in those crazy, not-found-in-nature colors) but also don't wear it. Up close faux fur tends to be less nice, in my experience. (Maybe I'm not looking at nice enough faux fur)

    I don't really feel that vintage fur fuels the modern fur purchasing, because there is so much vintage fur available right now. At some point that may change, if this look ramps back up. Also, were some of the older fur finishing techniques possibly toxic? (I would be hesitant to wear a much older fur on a regular basis due to this possibility.)

    Overall, conflicted. But from a moral view, I say, "If it's been dead longer than I've been alive, it's fine."

    Ok, looking forward to reading the other comments now.

    ame

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  63. I do not personally wear real fur, vintage or otherwise. Faux fur, especially the really nice stuff - which does not need to be very realistic, just soft and well made - is fine with me. However, I have been known to re-purpose vintage rabbit fur items into cat toys. But even then, it's just for the resident felines ... I don't sell them or otherwise encourage people to buy fur.

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  64. I say wear one. It's already dead but you didn't kill it so honor it's life by wearing it. The life of a fur is limited about 60-80 years if I remember from when I was researching fur restoration.

    Wearing a vintage fur is not the worst thing I've done with fur. When I used to teach knitting at a chic chic knitting store one of the classes was for cashmere dog sweaters (not my idea) with (new) rabbit fur yarn trim. Poor little doggies. I wonder how many got eaten by hawks that way.

    So now you can be smug and wander round in your vintage furs thinking well at least I didn't make my dog wear fur

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  65. You know looking back at those furs with the feet and heads........ today it looks so hideous! As a child I was fascinated by them whenever I saw one.....boy have things changed! The fake furs they use now are so luxurious that it really does seem a crime to wear real ones. I remember a scene from "Zipped" (Isaac Mizrahi) where Vogue editor Polly Mellen just couldn't believe that the fake sable Isaac was using in his fall collection wasn't the real thing!

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  66. It's funny how people get on their high horse about fur but have leather products. I really don't think you can own leather bags/shoes etcc and judge someone for wearing fur. that being said nowdays a lot of people can't tell the difference between the real deal, so won't say anything anyway.
    The main point should be, who really cares what other people think, do what makes you happy :)

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  67. Dear Peter - I sit on the fence about this and change my mind and opinion regularly. But I just wanted to comment pretty much off-topic to say how refreshing it always is to read your posts, and all the more so when you tackle contentious topics. You have a wonderful way of enquiring and stimulating discussion, without judging but always with meaning. Thank you!

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  68. #2, no new fur.
    However, I own 2 pieces made out of vintage fur. One is an ocelot jacket, the other a mink vest. Both pieces started out as coats, owned by my dear Swiss aunt, who died when she was 104 in 2001. My aunt stood all but 5ft tall. She gifted those coats to my mother, who is 5.9ft - needless to say, my mother did not wear the coats. She had the mink coat made into a jacket, which she rarely wore (mink is a bit old-lady-like after all)

    After my aunt died, I had the ocelot coat made into a jacket; a furrier tailored it narrower and lengthened the arms with the same fur that is on the collar. They would only do it after they determined that the fur was in good shape and wasn't broken. (it was in excellent shape) I now have a beautiful jacket.

    My mother and I took the mink jacket to the furrier for advice. He proceeded to make me a fitted vest, drawstring in the waist, 2 simple hooks for closure, cell phone pocket on the inside. Oh, and he also gave the fur a 'haircut' - it is now soft and short and doesn't look like the old-lady mink we know. During winter, I wear this vest ALL THE TIME.
    There is a picture of my aunt wearing the ocelot coat waiting at the train station in 1939.
    I don't feel bad at all wearing these pieces - they existed decades before I was born.
    (also, Peter, thanks for giving me a great idea for a blog post!)

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  69. I don't wear faux fur or real fur. I think fur looks trashy. That is must my opinion though. It isn't something I like. I did inherit furs which I gave to an animal rescue as bedding. I also don't buy leather or any animal products for that matter. My husband had a leather jacket and the smell was something awful. Not sure if they are meant to smell though. I don't know anyone who wears furs except my relatives who wore the cape thingy with the foxes heads hanging down. My mother ditched that.

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  70. I don't agree with modern fur except for if it's made from NZ Possums which are a major pest over here and are destroying our native flora and fauna. Aside from that I don't believe in new fur. Old fur is fine, it's already there and the deed was done so we should make use of it.
    I don't like fake fur though, most is poor quality.

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  71. I eat meat, and in theory I would wear fur or leather if I could afford it and wanted to. I agree with previous posters that eating meat and wearing fur are similar.

    I honestly don't consider it possible to buy only things which are ethically "easy" choices. I try to avoid things that are egregious human rights violations, or companies that parade the fact that they support charities I would rather not support, and I accept the fact that some of my money is going to wind up somewhere I don't want it to be.

    With all of that said, I think furs that actually look like dead animals (as opposed to being coats) are weird and creepy!

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  72. I LOVE fur, either (nice) faux or vintage, and real leather, old or new. I am not so excited about heads and feet, though. I used to enjoy making vintage fur and leather into new things when I was younger and less lazy, it is fun to work with. I have a fur vest which is both faux and vintage. The cute label inside says "Not Fur Real." :)

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  73. My great aunt from California had one of those dreadful fox stoles, which freaked me out. I don't wear fur, think vintage is okay. But for me it's faux fur, or VELVET. I would substitute velvet as trims. I also have a thick black velvet stole (vintage). Soft and cuddly, but not animal skins. By the way, to-day it is well below -25 celsius. Waiting for my GermanShepherd/Lab rescue to come in from the garden, I tucked Michel, a glossy grey tiger cat, inside my bathrobe, also to keep him inside. Nice and toasty, and no one died. Cathie, in Quebec.

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  74. Number 2 for me. It doesn't even have to be vintage, as long as its second-hand. I think that you have a responsibility to vote with your dollars - if you are opposed to fur, don't buy fur. Not wearing fake fur because you feel you are being a bad influence on other people is going a bit far, unless you are a celebrity who actually has influence.

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  75. I don't wear fur because I get hot flashes.

    Your photos made me laugh though, because on the last episode of NCIS:LA, Linda Hunt(undercover) is wearing a fox stole and LL Cool J refers to "that dead dog around your neck".

    Well, it was funny at the moment. You had to be there.

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  76. One thing about it Peter you should have opened a forum for discussion. I for one would wear new or old if it was what I wanted at the time. Also I find it very difficult to take in that so many people have such a strong opinion on the fur subject. As in all things I follow the practice of not judging and to let people live as they chose. So go ahead Peter and wear what ever you like. Enjoy!

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  77. Just thought I'd mention that up here in northern Ontario, it's relatively easy to procure new, wild-caught furs. There is an annual fur show only 4 hours from me in Sturgeon Falls. Most animals caught in snares die relatively quickly from strangulation with none of the ethical issues of existing in a cage from birth to death for the sole purpose of human luxury. A beaver trapper I know also takes a rifle for protection from wolves (yes, REALLY) and to dispatch any animals improperly snared/suffering. Although his governmental quota is for beaver (he MUST trap 80 to retain the right to his trapline), he inevitably snares several foxes each year, and also the occasional wolf, otter and coyote, all of which are sold to the central processing center. From there, orders are filled for commercial fur requirements from companies such as Danier Leather.

    I'm pro-fur, as it has it's place, especially around your hood in -20 Celsius weather (-4 Fahrenheit).

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  78. New fur is unconscionable. Much comes from China, is dog (as is much leather) and harvest with such cruelty there are no words. Don't Google it if you have a week stomach. As for vintage. I don't know. I like it in staged venues, but don't care for it for every day. I inherited my mothers furs, and keep trying to figure out what to do with them because I just don't feel right wearing them. I remember having the crud scared out of me over those with the eyes and feet hanging in the closet. My daughter, 13,is REVOLTED by fur. She can't even put on my moms as it makes her skin crawl. She doesn't seem to have a problem with leather tho---so how about leather? Is that different?

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  79. born and raised in 'california', I was on the fence about fur. I never thought I'd personally wear fur, but I was never against it myself. I live in fairbanks, alaska now. erm... its COLD. I would wear it. I have yet to buy fur lined gloves but I totally GET it. its for survival. these animals survive the instense cold weather here for a reason. (coldest december since 1977, we had highs of -20 lows of -35. as for an accessory... no thanks.

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  80. In Holland, in the eighties, people would destroy your fur coat in the streets, by throwing paint on it. Since then, youndidn't see it anymore in the streets.
    About one and a half year ago, I got for free, two mink jackets from a friend of mine, Otherwise it would be thrown away.
    I also sang the dutch protest song in the eighties, Een tweedehands jas (it means: a secondhand coat, not from the wearer, but it belonged to an animal, as first owner).
    It feels so delicious soft. I read more about it, and now I own 3 coats, which are rare in the Netherlands, because I'm a man, and I need men's coats.
    Bought a fur sewing machine. It's such an art, reparing and remodelling fur coats. Normal sewing is not difficult for me, but sewing fur is a real challenge. Also I learnt, that if the back of the fur, the leather (yes, fur is leather with the hairs still on it!), is still firm, you can remodel it. Like people here already said, some coats are 50 to 60 years old.
    Off course it's sad to end an animal's life for a coat, but do you also feel that bad when you see a leather chair in a store? Cowskin at Ikea? Leather gloves? And don't forget medicine, perfume, make-up, Uggs, etc etc. Even cochenille paint is made from bugs.
    It's all sad. But why is everyone always that furious about fur, and most people don't even think about being upset with leather?

    greetings from a furwearinf man from Holland.

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  81. Timeframe for the deaths is irrelevant. You could also say of a new fur that the animals already died so one should use it and not be wasteful. If you don't agree with modern killing then vintage killing should be no different. Making and wearing vintage is really all about fun and an accessory that needs ethical clarity is a definite downer.

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  82. Nothing to do with ethics, but it's funny:

    In the '50s and '60s, there used to be a frequent special request from wealthy women who vacationed in the Catskills - to remove the label from a fur and re-sew it back in, upside down.

    The reason? So that when you wore a lovely new fur to Grossinger's or Kutscher's, and hung it over the back of a chair, everyone could easily see that the coat was from Bergdorf's or wherever. They wanted you should know!

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  83. I'm with the "only wear the fur/leather if the animal was killed for meat" crowd. But I'm not judgmental about it for vintage furs.

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  84. My guideline is if I came across this creature in my garage, would I call Animal Control or an exterminator? My thought is that if I would have the animal poisoned to keep it out of my home I would be a hypocrite to say it can't be worn.

    On the lighter side I was gifted a terribly unconvincing fake chinchilla jacket that the manufacturer for some reason put a heavy quilted lining into. I call it "The heatstroke jacket" and keep it because about every third winter we'll have a spell of -20F days and I'm very glad to have it. During one of these occasions I'm browsing in a bookstore. Another woman my age was nearby. A young teenager kept passing in back of us making "tisk tisk" sounds behind me. The other woman and I would look at each other and crack up every time she did it because the jacket is that unrealistic. Of course the kid's vision might have been obscured by the seven hoodies she had on to stay warm.

    (Really, the coat is maybe one step above the fun fur Joanns puts out at Halloween for children's costumes but I don't care that I look like I'm wearing a sports mascot costume without the head when it's -20. It's too cold for the fashion police to be out giving tickets.)

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  85. I'm firmly in the "I don't care" camp. I don't wear fur, real or fake, mainly because it never gets that cold where I live. People who wear fur out here are just being pretentious. I mean 50 degrees is a cold snap. I would never wear fake fur because it is ugly and fake. Also, I'm allergic to some real fur, like fox. I have worn coats with real fur trim and would again. Needless to say there are no vegetarians in my household. Generally fur is not acceptable in California because being a vegetarian is so trendy right now. Kids get the message early in school. At least mine did.

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  86. TO be honest the most daunting part of this is the fact that you can actually see they were animals, with their heads and everything! eek!
    I love faux fur, and I do wear leather but I can't make up my mind about vintage fur.. I do know that I wouldn't wear the ones that looks like deflated foxes though, they freak me out. (though I see no harm in it!)

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  87. Number 3 for me. And by fake, I mean really fake, that fine line between trashy and Muppet.

    I won't get into my thoughts on wearing fur, leather, etc, or consuming meat. If you must do fur, then wear an animal killed before my mother was born. I will state my opposition to the fox stole. It's just creepy. I mean, seriously... the little feet, the face! Dear god, the face! It's staring at you from the closet, your left shoulder, GAH! Oh and when it's like 3 of them, linked together! Ugh. So creepy.

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  88. I am a 1 when it comes to the fur question. I usually lean towards more vintage, but I do also own a handful of contemporary pieces including a gorgeous burgundy fox mini stole given to me by my mother for my wedding.
    Fur isn't overly popular where I live, but I usually only wear it for special events or very cold days in the winter.
    For myself, I find it hypocritical of me to eat meat, consume animal by-products and wear/use leather and then be offended by fur. It's the same feeling I get when staunch vegetarians sit there in their leather shoes judging me for eating meat. Doesn't make sense.
    Saying that, I have owned really lovely faux pieces in the past. Funny enough, it was a faux piece that someone intentionally damaged with a cigarette at an event I was at.

    As a reference: I'm a meat eater partly because I want to be, partly because there isn't a whole lot I can eat that I'm not allergic to. My husband? ALMOST a vegan.
    I collect, wear and sew vintage and I live on the West Coast of Canada in beautiful BC, where the weather is really quite moderate.

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  89. I'm in the "don't care" category about fur in general, but I must say, there is something more special about a vintage fur over a modern one. It is the same with all vintage stuff, they have *something* more.

    I own a vintage fur cape, and I adore it. My grandmother moved to a nursing home last year, and she let my cousin and I search her fur closet in the attic (yes - she had an entire CLOSET full of furs passed down from her mother and aunt), and take what we wanted. The rest would be given to charity. I am kind of skinny, and I almost disapeared in the bigger ones, but luckily found a perfect little cape.
    I love it because it is glamorous and vintage without being over-the-top.

    /Angelica

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  90. I think this is a really hard one. My mom has a gorgeous fur coat she got as a wedding gift 40 years ago (fox or even something wolf-like I think) which I adore. My grandmother had one of the stoles you are talking about (with the eyes and paws), and that one, too, I adore.
    My mom doesn't wear the fur coat anymore (but I can remember her wearing it about 25 years ago) because it is a real fur and she considers it ethically not-done to wear fur.
    I think this is a very difficult subject.
    On the one hand I think real fur is something that shouldn't even be considered buying new. Technology has evolved enough to make sure that faux looks and feels just as good as the real thing. (I have gloves with a large piece of faux-fur on them, and I love them because of how they look and because they are supersoft and because they keep me warm).
    Vintage fur is something quite different but still remains a difficult subject. I personally think, ethically, you can wear it, but you will be judged by others as an animal-hater. As for the question if it encourages new fur, unfortunately, I think it does...
    Maybe that is why I haven't claimed my mothers' fur coat and stole as my own (that, and the fact that I think I am at least 20 to 30 years too young to wear the kind of fur coat my mother has).

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  91. I also fall into the "don't care" category, but would much prefer vintage over new. I say go for it.

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  92. Oh my. You really opened up a can with this one. But I suppose you knew ahead of time. In any case, you wear whatever makes you feel good. Just avoid suspicious looking bystanders holding buckets of paint.
    Off topic, but I have to say, from the pictures, the snood look is not one of my favorites. (I say that to remind myself as much as for anyone else.)

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  93. Wow!! I live in a temperate climate and don't have a need to wear fur, but I guess I'm fine with fur from pest animals, including vintage ones. Same goes for leather. Here in New Zealand, introduced Australian possums are a huge pest and threat to the bush, birdlife, and cattle. In recent years there has been an effort to popularise possum fur mixed with wool, which is wonderfully warm and light. At this stage I don't believe there is a risk of deliberate perpetuation of a pest species, but it's always a risk. Rabbits are another major pest but I don't think it's so economic to bother with their fur.
    I'd never contemplate new fur from a rare or endangered animal. I don't really have an opinion on farmed ones. As I live in a city I am also prepared to eat meat I didn't raise and kill myself.
    Like everything, using something you need and making it last a lifetime is vastly different from constantly turning over unnecessary stuff. I am sure Cathy, with her sympathy for the underdog, will be leaving her fur collection,along with her clothing and shoes, to a worthy cause of her choosing.

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  94. It seems to me only old ladies and drag queens wear fur. Unless with a vintage ensemble of clothes for period costume event. It sure doesn't go with California. A friend decided to wear her fur coat to a party (I didn't want to express my viewpoint of the two kinds of fur wearers, didn't want to spoil it for her). However, in some places not recommended as some PETA people may splash you with paint. I wouldn't wear fur unless it is faux fur (some of it is fairly good quality, not cheapo) but then I eat meat and occasionally leather boots so I'm probably guilty the same.
    Recently West Hollywood passed an ordinance prohibiting fur for sale in city limits.

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  95. I love the look and feel of fur stoles for special occasions, and on the trim of jackets or hats in winter (it rarely gets so cold that I'd need a full fur coat here). For me, the ethics are pretty simple: why contribute to the production of environmentally damaging chemicals and the use of precious resources for something I'll only wear a handful of times a year? Why not wear something that has been dead for 60 years instead of sending it off to landfill? I think many activists fail to see the forest for the trees in this regard. I'd rather people make choices that protect the environment as a whole rather than a few animals.
    Faux fur probably doesn't contribute to people buying new furs - I feel like the markets which can afford new versus those who can only buy faux/vintage are completely divorced from one another, both economically and in terms of where they get their inspiration (designer versus vintage inspired).
    I don't think you have to worry about paint weilding bystanders anymore. With the rise of faux fur it's probably too hard for them to tell who is a terrible, burn in hell corpse wearer and who is a trendy vegan!

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  96. Wow,what a polarizing topic! I have a ratty old coat, 50s vintage, that I received in a bag of garage sale castoffs in 1983 - I didn't know until 5 years ago that it is Moutan - sheep, I guess that it. It is incredibly warm, beautiful, and has been dead longer than I have been alive. I don't like the idea of animals raised inhumanely, but I grew up on a farm, and eat meat and wear leather. So, I wear the coat, otherwise...what, put it in a landfill?

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  97. I find nothing wrong with vintage fur. My grandmother (who nowadays is extremely pro-animal welfare, to the point where she rarely even eats meat) gave me some sentimental vintage pieces out of her closet, such as a 1950s ivory cocktail ring and a gorgeous mink-fur winter coat that my grandfather bought for her in the early 1960s that is still in pristine condition. In my opinion, it would be a shame to discard these pieces: 1.) At the time they were bought, it was social norm and my grandparents weren't aware of the gruesome reality of fur farming, 2.) these animals died in an undignified and excessively painful manner...it seems like an outright waste of life to have stripped them of their lives and body parts in vain--I would rather honor the intent behind the killing of the animals, rather than allow them to have been frivolously murdered and desecrated.

    As far as modern fur goes, the concept of killing an animal for the sheer sake of fashion is abhorrent and the methods of killing that many foreign fur farms use are inhumane and horrific. I always check clothing labels to avoid perpetuating the fur industry.
    However, I believe there is nothing wrong with wearing fur and animal material that has been obtained ethically, such as utilizing remains from deceased animals found in nature or leather from animals that have been killed for food. There are also ethical ways to purchase animal furs: every year, a certain amount of wildlife is culled by government-sanctioned programs, for the purpose of population control and pelts can be obtained that way (we're talking about animals that have been cleanly shot and/or euthanized by the Department of Fish and Game, NOT animals that have been ruthlessly skinned alive by the masses by unregulated fur farmers).

    In my opinion, there's nothing wrong with utilizing ethically-obtained parts to avoid WASTING life. It's the industry of casually farming and killing animals for something as superficial as fashion, that creates a problem.

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  98. im a older straight male,my aunts and grandma had furs.my mom tickled me when i was 3 years old with grandma:s mink.well that did it,i was naked and i still cant get over fur or even looking or talking about it.

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  99. You are awesome for asking such thoughtful and thought provoking questions about fur and the psychology of fur.

    I bought my first fur at a yard sale in Des Moines, Iowa in 1994. It was a fabulous black fur from the 20's - actually, there were two: one 3/4 length with wide sleeves, and another very boxy hip length caplet.

    I wore these coats without much thought or comment for a few years, then moved west to Washington and then Oregon. MY! What looks I received! How quick people are to judge just based on a glance! Not only was I assumed to be wealthy, but also heartless, cruel, and just plain out DeVille!

    I went ahead and continued to wear those coats until they fell apart, which is what happens to everything, eventually - they weren't in great condition when I got them, which made the whole thing even more ironic, as you didn't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that they were vintage.

    So... Does wearing vintage fur contribute to the fur market? No. Buying second hand ANYTHING is a great way of ensuring that one is not contributing to the market - whoever owned it previously either got tired of it or died. Either way, I would rather honor the critter that died to make that fur by wearing it rather than putting it in a land fill. Of course, if anyone wants to do a healing ceremonial burial of any furs they find, I encourage them to do so.

    And as far as promoting the killing of new critters by wearing vintage furs... I would like to think that I am not promoting the wearing of cheap Walmart jeans by wearing nice, vintage jeans. To be more direct, I would hope that the average person has a bit more between the ears than to think: Oh! That pretty lady is wearing a (vintage) fur coat: I think that I should go spend $10K on one for myself! I mean, really! Most people can't afford a real, new fur in the first place, and the ones that can... Well, I doubt that they are inspired by my bohemian ass, and am relatively sure that we might have a few more things to add to their karmic tab at the end of the day:P

    Note: You can get furs like the ones you pictured all over the place at antique stores on the West Coast. While it is slightly impractical for me to wear such things on a daily basis in Portland (I might get more than I bargained for with lunch), I do pity them, rotting in a corner as it is not only out of vogue to wear such things, but considered to be politically incorrect. I feel like buying them and making art from them, maybe a patchwork throw of little heads and tails. Once I thought about making a lambswool coat from salvaged, vintage ones, but sewing the pelts together seamlessly, and getting them all of the same shade... I decided to go with a faux cotton lambswool instead, contributing to God knows what chemical processes and slave labor in who-knows-where.

    Remember, everything we do as a human has a price to something, someone, somewhere. I think that buying things second hand, re-using and reducing, is the lowest impact decision we can make.

    Thank you, Michael, for such a lovely page. You rock!

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    1. Sorry, I mean, thanks *Peter*- just started reading, got confused for a second, never been great with names!

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    2. No problem, Lisa Marie. Thank you for all your great comments!

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