News | UK | This Britain The fur trade: Bloody fashion

In 1994 Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington, Claudia Schiffer, and Ell Macpherson were all considered to be at a celebrity status and joinded together in the anti fur protests of the time. The act of wearing fur became a social crime and those deemed guilty risked being abused by strangers on the street. What I find very interesting is that the only model out of these five that has not returned to wearing and promoting fur is Christy Turlington. In the 1990’s, Britain’s fur industry was almost driven out of existence completely and now today is back and thriving more than ever before. An investigation by the Independent has revealed that more than a thousand tons of fur came into Britain just last year.

In many cases, most customers don’t realize that what they are buying is actually real fur and would be completely horrified if they realized the suffering and murder that was involved in killing the animal that is on the trim of their designer coat. Also in many cases fur that is advertised as fake fur is indeed real fur. Major retail store, Forever 21 was caught selling dog fur as fake fur. As stated by Stella McCartney,

“ There’s nothing fashionable about a dead animal that has been cruelly killed just because some people think it looks cool to wear. The continuing use of fur iis still a real problem in the fashion industry and there is an issue with people out there assuming that fur trim is fake when most of it is real.

More than 50 million animals will be killed for their fur this year, most of which will have spent their short lives in miserable conditions on fur farms before they are killed, sometimes being skinned while still alive. The conditions in which these animals live and the ways that they are brutally murdered are devastating. Karakul lambskin (worn by stars such as Keira Knightley), are killed just days after birth or even taken from the womb.


Nicole Richie and the rabbit fur jacket

WHERE AND WHEN: Book signing in New York, 2005

WEARING: Grey rabbit fur jacket

COST: Estimated £1,000

CRUELTY FACTOR: Rabbits are farmed in terrible conditions. A large proportion are bred and killed purely for the fur and the RSPCA says that people should not assume that rabbit fur is automatically a by-product of meat. In the wild, rabbits are roaming social animals that live in burrows. In a cage on a fur farm they are denied this freedom and are usually killed by having their necks broken. The use of rabbit fur in costume is first recorded in 13th-century literature.


Dita Von Teese wears mink

WHERE AND WHEN: Rodeo Drive Walk of Style Awards, Beverly Hills, March 2006

WEARING: Mink cloak

COST: Anything up to £8,000

CRUELTY FACTOR: About 85 per cent of all mink are farmed, something that is incredibly stressful for these wild animals. They live for just six or seven months before being killed; common methods include gassing, electrocution or beating them to death. They are perhaps best known for their dark brown fur, which turns white at the chin and runs to black at the tips of their tails. It takes 60 to 80 minks to make a fur coat. Young tend to be born in May. They are dead by December.

Kate Moss’s seal boots

WHERE AND WHEN: Leaving a London restaurant in March 2004

WEARING: Mukluk boots

COST: About £200

CRUELTY FACTOR: Mukluks are a soft boot made of reindeer skin or sealskin and worn by Inuit. The sealskin is taken from seals that are clubbed to death at two weeks old.

Sophie Dahl chooses mink and white fox

WHERE AND WHEN: Fragrance Foundation Awards, New York, April 2005

WEARING: White mink coat, fox fur collar

COST: Estimated £7,000

CRUELTY FACTOR: Millions of mink and fox endure terrible conditions in fur farms, where they live their short lives in cages so small that they can barely turn around. White foxes that are caught from the wild in steel-jaw traps are in so much pain that some bite off their limbs in order to escape. Many die horrible deaths before the trapper arrives to kill them. Those on farms are gassed or killed by electrocution: electrodes are clamped in the mouth and the rectum.

News | UK | This Britain The fur trade: Bloody fashion


The Beauty Myth continues….

Naomi Wolf explains within her text, “The Beauty Myth,” how the many images that are placed in the public eye within today’s society negatively affect women and how they view themselves. In the 1990’s, pornography, the use of preteen models in major ad campaigns, and the heroine chic style all heavily influenced how women judged the way they looked. The media popularized thin bodies, large breasts, and blond hair forcing young women to view the women on the covers of magazines as ideal forms of beauty when in reality they stand as symbols of bulimia, anorexia, and a everything that stands against the healthy natural state of beauty. From this, women desired to look like the emaciated figures in Calvin Klein ad campaigns and completely suffered for the so desired new form of beauty. With anorexia being the biggest killer of American teenage girls, it is completely obvious that the media, the models, and their weightless figures are killing off young girls everyday. Naomi states within the text,

“Disordered eating, which was undertaken to fit a disordered ideal, was one of the causes of the disease, and not necessarily, as popular opinion of the day held, a manifestation of an underlying neurosis. Women were have been so persuaded and convinced that the ideal form of beauty is that of the Vogue or Harpers Bazaar model that they are willing to undergo whatever it takes to achieve the thin emaciated appearance of the fashion model. While these images from the media have clearly been the main cause of the problem, many people in society have tried to convince these young girls that their problem with anorexia or bulimia comes from a psychological disorder, parenting problems, or a disease. So not only have these girls felt fat, but also now they probably feel psychologically insane, improperly raised by their parents, and diseased. With every women naturally being a specific weight and containing their own healthy size, it is scary to think that many of the women today are drastically dropping below this natural state and further inviting into their system many health problems and concerns that could be life threatening.

Is it really worth your life to be as thin as Kate Moss or Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen? Is it really worth the time, money, self-destruction, and emotional deterioration that becoming socially beautiful within the popular world of the media today? If magazines, tv shows, and other forms of mass media continue to popularize an unnatural state of beauty imagine what the future message will be to young girls everywhere. Eating disorders and self destruction will start at an earlier age and become even more of a problem than ever before.


Point of Purchase: Ethical or Unethical?



Out of the readings this week, Point of Purchase, by Sharon Zukin, confronted me with the realities of the shopping experience. Unlike the Pijaca in Yugoslavia, the producer of the product does not directly sell most of the items I have purchased in the past and will continue to purchase due to economic restraints. Instead the clothes, food, and other items I purchase within my affordable price range come from factories overseas and then are shipped and sold in a variety of discount chains, branded boutiques, and Brooklyn bodegas. The shopping experience for those who aren’t economically secure enough to shop accordingly to the ethical issues that hide behind products within these shopping centers are highly dependant on the price tag and not the production that lies behind the product. The majority of the people in the world are unable to afford the luxurious items that are sold directly from the producer and are forced to buy their jeans from budget brands that pay their manufacturers at disgustingly low rates rather than from designer brands who are directly producing their denim each season.

Like Julia, the music teacher from the reading, I know and understand the qualities of designer construction within clothes. I can recognize expensive name brands while walking around the city and in many cases can distinguish the difference between the fake goods and the real ones. I also, like Julia have an understanding of the items I would purchase If I was financially capable of swiping my debit card at the many boutiques that I continuously navigate online and through window-shopping. As a middle class individual, I am forced to search out the bargain. Instead of purchasing my groceries at Whole Foods I shop at Key Food or the bodegas within my neighborhood. Instead of waltzing into the Rick Owens boutique, I thrift through consignment stores, eBay, and stores like H&M to find cheaper items that I can put together to form a desired look. In a dream world, I would know exactly where my groceries were grown and buy designer clothing that is crafted by talented individuals who are paid appropriate wages. In reality, as a middle class college student I will have to continue shopping in Brooklyn rather than Fifth Avenue.

The Neighborhoods and boroughs within NYC completely differentiate the social classes within our society and determine the types of stores and shopping that takes place. As Zukin states,

“The growth of different shopping districts for rich and poor proved to be a fluid barometer of a New Yorker’s social position, as well as of the city’s general prosperity. Where women shopped reflected their wealth and social class, but it also determined who they were. If you shopped north of Fiftieth Street, you were rich; if you shopped south of Fourteenth Street, you worked in a factory.”

While this statement isn’t completely accurate with today’s world, the general class separation does exist. Our financial income and the neighborhood we can afford to live in ultimately reflect the stores we can shop at. Our point of purchase might not be the most ethically conscious but for many people in today’s world we are unable to buy items with those issues in mind. We are forced to purchase the goods we can afford and shop at the stores that offer the best deal.

Kyle Sanders