Should You Feel Guilty About Wearing Vintage Fur?

Maybe you wouldn't buy a new fur coat, but how about a 50-year-old coat you found at a thrift store? Those animals were dead a long time before animal rights groups made wearing fur a no-no. And it's recycling, right? A vintage fur coat still in use means a new one that isn't being produced. Or maybe not: there are those who would argue that vintage furs seen as chic contribute to the demand for new furs. And how horrible are fur coats, anyway, compared to say, wearing leather?

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

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

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

An article on furs both old and new at Collector's Weekly features four other fur experts besides Poliquin, and their stances vary. They all give us something to think about. Link


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I would never buy a new fur, mostly because for me fur would be all about the look. My leather jacket (it was new when I bought it, but it's a quality one, so it's served me about 15 years and I expect I'll still be wearing it another couple of decades from now) is a much warmer,durable, more sensible choice for my lifestyle. I'd have a tough time justifying buying fresh fur for myself because it'd be impractical and 100% a fashion choice and I don't feel good about cruelty just for fashion.

But I'm totally okay with vintage fur. That animal is already long dead. He was dead before my mother was born, maybe even before my grandmother was born. It's never going to bring him back to just let the old coat made out of him sit until it rots. And purchasing it's not helping keep a currently operating fur farm in business. No one is going to have to breed or kill another animal to replace the one in the collar of a vintage jacket. My dollars spent on the vintage fur aren't going into the pockets of people currently engaged in fur. They're going to the antique shop vendor or thrift shop or estate sale family. That's okay with me. I'm not contributing directly to suffering. And I get to enjoy wearing the fur. And it gives the fur a longer useful lifespan,too, and I find that respectful of the animal. It's already dead, might as well get the most use out of it possible now. Wear it till it gets too shabby to be beautiful as a garment anymore, then maybe craft with the salvageable pieces, or donate them to one of the causes like in the article that use them for baby animals.
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we don't really need to eat meat, though. Fur gives a lot of warmth AND feels/looks great... meat gives protein AND tastes delicious. But we can eat a vegan diet without compromising protein and we can use other materials for warmth.
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I guess my objection is (to vintage fur and newly minted) that we have to eat to live, including some source of protein, but we don't have to kill animals to decorate ourselves. When mink are electrocuted?, their bodies are not eaten afterwards (as far as I know). Also, we don't need to wear fur to stay warm. Few of us live in environments so severe weatherwise, that only an animal's skin and fur will provide enough insulation against the cold. There are plenty of manmade fabrics that work just as well.
Whereas, most every part of a hooved animal is or can be made useful. I'm currently learning the art of leatherwork.

EDIT: This is just my opinion, an off-the-cuff, not very well thought out one.
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