What’s The Problem With Faux Fur?

After gracing catwalks and red carpets for a better part of a decade, fashion is falling out of love with real animal fur, and an increasing number of designers and brands going fur-free. In its place we have faux fur –  touted as the ethical alternative, it has the look of real fur while keeping animal lovers happy.  So what’s the problem?

A growing number of consumers are realising the significant ethical and environmental impacts of the modern fur industry, putting pressure on brands to go fur-free. In the past six months alone, a slew of designer brands including Versace, Gucci, Jimmy Choo, Furla, John Galliano, Donna Karan, Tom Ford and Michael Kors have announced that they are no longer using fur in their lines. What’s more, San Francisco has recently become the largest U.S. city to ban the sale of fur. Although real fur is on the way out, faux fur is quickly rising up to take its place. From coats, to shoes, to keychains, designer and fast fashion brands alike have jumped on the faux fur bandwagon.

What is faux fur made from?

woman wears a leopard trim collarA growing body of evidence also points to the significant environmental impact of microfibres, the microscopic plastic particles that shed from synthetic garments every time they are washed. This poses a huge problem for our ocean life, which is ingesting these plastic fibres. It’s also a threat to human health as we consume these sea animals (and the plastic inside them!) According to a 2016 study, synthetic jackets released an average of 1,174 milligrams of plastic microfibers when washed!

If you already own synthetic garments, Patagonia   sells a laundry bag that helps trap the plastic microfibers that are released from your clothes every time you wash them.

Faux fur isn’t always fake

In a disturbing new trend, real fur is actually being passed off as faux fur to unknowing shoppers. In 2016, an investigation by the charity Humane Society International UK uncovered that some products labelled as “faux” fur products from British high street stores Missguided and House of Fraser were found to actually found to be made from real fur after they were tested by a fibres expert. The sad truth behind this scandal is that there is so much fur being produced under terrible conditions in countries such as China that it’s actually cheaper to produce and buy than faux fur. While some companies who are wanting to increase their profit margin might be falsely labelling their garments to deceive shoppers, often sellers are unaware that their products contain real fur.

The fast fashion problem

The main issue with faux fur is that it’s a trend that has been well and truly hijacked by the unsustainable and unethical fast fashion industry. Focused on fleeting styles made from poor quality materials using cheap labour, fast fashion brands prioritise profit over people, the planet and animals. There has been no shortage of faux fur items on the market – from jackets in every colour, to fur-lined loafers and fluffy keychains. In a week’s time, these styles will be replaced by new ones, creating a never-ending demand for new, ‘on-trend’ products.

So what are the ethical alternatives?

1.Buy less, buy quality, buy timeless

At Good On You we believe the old adage that less is more. Before buying a faux fur garment, ask yourself if you really need or want it. A helpful way to answer this question is to calculate the cost-per-wear of the garment:

Cost-per-wear = Total cost of the item x estimated number of days you’ll wear it

For example, if you buy a faux fur coat for $100 and wear it once a fortnight for a year, the cost-per-wear comes to about $3.85. On the other hand, if you only end up wearing that $100 coat once or twice, the total cost-per-wear is very pricey!

We also recommend that you focus on buying a high-quality garment.  A 2016 study conducted by Patagonia showed that these produce fewer microfibres than cheaper quality materials. Finally, rather than buying into the fleeting trends of fast fashion that want you to keep buying their products, consider opting for a timeless piece over something that will probably be passe in a month’s time.

2.Buy secondhand

There are no shortage of fake (and real) secondhand fur garments on the market. Check out your nearest thrift store, vintage boutique, secondhand market, eBay, Etsy, as well as a number of other online secondhand retailers that have sprung up in recent years. Buying secondhand not only significantly decreases your carbon footprint, as no new resources are being consumed, but it’s often great for your bank account too!

3.Buy ethical alternatives

You don’t have to buy real or faux fur to make a bold statement with your outfit. Here are a few of our favourite statement pieces from brands rated ‘Good’ or ‘Great’ on the free Good On You app:

The Reformation Valero Jacket ||International shipping

Who says you need a faux fur jacket to make a statement? This oversized pinstripe linen jacket from US label Reformation   is the perfect versatile piece that can take you from the office to a date night. Reformation manufactures its products in the USA, ensuring a large proportion of its suppliers pay a living wage to its workers, and uses a number of eco-friendly materials in its products including fabric offcuts.

The Raven + Lily Bree Tassel Earrings ||International shipping

Put down those cheap, faux fur earrings that are absolutely everywhere right now and pick up these gorgeous tassel earrings from Raven + Lily instead. Raven + Lily support local female artisans to create their stunning pieces, and are committed to empowering communities through fair wages, healthcare and education. These earrings were made in South Africa in partnership with local jewellery label Pichulik.

The Amour Vert x AGOLDE Jessie Oversized Jacket ||Ships to the USA and Canada

An endlessly versatile piece that will go with absolutely everything, the humble denim jacket continues to be a wardrobe staple. Made in the USA, this oversized 90’s style Amour Vert   jacket designed by LA denim label AGOLDE is made from organic and recycled cotton, which is great news for the planet.

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Feature image and first image via Unsplash. Additional images via brands mentioned.

Lara Robertson

Author Lara Robertson

Lara is a media student and writer at Good On You. She is a passionate vegan, bibliophile, fashionista and crazy cat lady, who hopes to spend her life writing about her passions and values.

More posts by Lara Robertson

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Dione Nemo says:

    Thank you I’ve been trying to tell my environmentalist wannabe friends why they shouldn’t get so upset about my fur and leather items especially if they wanna play activist

  • Anastasia Papakonstadinou says:

    Hello to the Good On You team!
    I’m a teenager from Greece and over the past few years I’ve discovered a lot about the clothing industry through the Internet and it’s unbelievable for me the fact that we consumers are causing so much harm without even knowing it. However I feel so much pride, awe and respect towards all the rebells of the world, all these people who are not just accepting everything, who are not settling but make the difference and say ‘I am responsible for this’ no matter how old they are or which country they live in. People just like you.
    I am really fascinated by the fact that through Internet, mainly Youtube in my case, you have the opportunity to meet so extraordinary people and learn something from them. I believe that the voices of these people need to be heard. One of my favourite youtubers
    is called Justine Leconte. She is a fashion designer and she really has a passion for creating sustainable clothing. In this video she mentions how to tell the difference between real and faux fur:
    So, I hope you continue your great work and make more and more people aware.
    With much respect ,
    Anastasia Papakonstadinou

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