Now fur is controversial and I am not entirely sure why, when leather is all the rage. Hides, with fur intact, were worn by mankind especially in cold climates and are durable, warm, flexible and beautiful. Indigenous people in arctic regions wear fur from necessity as well as tradition.
Of course there is a legitimate concern that hunting certain animals for their pelts has already wiped out or endangered species. It is therefore completely reasonable that these species are protected and it is no longer possible in most countries to buy an Ocelot jacket, for example. On the other hand animals bred for their fur – such as mink, fox and rabbits – account for most fur used in garment making today. Although some misguided animal rights activists have released farmed mink into the wild, where they have either perished or gone on to wreck natural ecosystems, there is no reason to think that farming is intrinsically cruel.
To my mind, leather is the same as fur, but without the fur. Unlike humans most other mammals have fur, or hairy skin. Once removed you get leather. The only question for me is an aesthetic one – I have no moral objection to wearing leather or fur. Some people choose not to eat meat, animal products, or even carrots. Likewise some people prefer to wear plastic shoes and fake fur, made from oil derivatives. Leather comes from cows, sheep, goats, camels, dogs, cats and bears for example, and all these animals have fur that can be preserved in order to make fur items. I like wearing leather shoes and belts and I am keen on fur too. I have had a number of vintage fur items – a dark brown fox tippet was a favourite until the moths ate its little ears. Also I have a Russian style rabbit fur hat that I bought in Berlin. It has flaps to cover my ears and cheeks on the coldest days. Unlike wool or synthetics that irritate my skin I find real fur is the most delicious fabric to wear. I am in the Arctic Circle in this jolly photograph. I have just caught (much to my delight) a tiny fish – my first experience of fishing, and my first experience of drilling a hole in the ice first. The instructor holds my fish, and we both wear lovely warm fur hats.
. Natural fur is also very flattering as it
- reflects the light, enhancing the complexion
- includes lots of shades of colour (like our hair) which gives movement and life to the garment. If it comes from an animal with distinctive markings then the variety of toning colours can be very pretty, especially when matched to your skin tones.
Last Christmas I got some “fun fur” and made fur collars for all my female relatives and friends. The free pattern was generously provided by Tilly Walnes. The fabric came from Simply Fabrics and I bought this light grey and some darker grey too. I backed the collars with bright pink or turquoise silk, and fastened it with a fur hook.
This made me want to make something in fur – perhaps a version of an anorak or parka, with the fur on the inside. Or a luxurious fur lined hood on a cloak. Or maybe just a really nice fur collar in a lovely shade on a nice 1950s coat. I don’t have a plan yet but I would really like to make something furry.