The Vintage Fur Debate - Glamour without the guilt?

A selection of vintage fur including Musquash,
Squirrel, Astrakhan, Rabbit and fake.
At any fashion show in the world, amongst the silk and cashmere there are also bound to be lavish swathes of real fur adorning coats, boots and gloves. 
In the nineties the "I'd rather go naked than wear fur" supermodel campaign led by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) left London and New York catwalks hiding fur in disgrace.

But since then fur has unashamedly crept back into the fashion houses.  Even Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss, faces of the PETA campaign, have snuggled back into fur in recent years.
(Image courtesy of
So what's the argument for vintage fur made in the thirties, forties and fifties? Does a grandmother's old coat hold the same dark secrets as those of a new fur coat? Is vintage fur to be censored in the same way designers are criticised for using fur pelts? The innocence of vintage fur is that the luxury look has already been created without the animals of today dying. It seems that it would make sense to recycle these vintage garments, instead of keeping them hidden guiltily away in the back of a closet waiting for the ethical dilemma to end.

The price of a mid length black fur
coat in harrods - £1999.00
A recent RSPCA poll showed 95 per cent of people are against wearing real fur. Is vintage fur to be classed in the same cruel category as new fur? After all, these garments have already been made, and vintage doesn't support the new industry.  Could vintage be almost ethical because fur came from wild animals who lived free lives? I could guess that all anti-fur campaigners would argue any fur is ugly fur, old or new. Many believe that just wearing any fur, promotes all fur.

If the recession has taught us anything, it's recycle and reuse. Vintage fur, which lasts up to 100 years, seems a valuable garment to hold on to - glamour without the guilt?  Vintage fur is not only ten times cheaper than any contemporary fur garment, it also takes no part in the current supply chain.

Debbie Berwick, owner of Revivals vintage shop in Canterbury, is selling vintage fur as an alternative to contemporary fur in an economy that desperately needs affordable clothing.

“What's influenced me to stock fur again is A - the really cold winter last year and B - the recession. I think its crazy to get rid of a really good quality coat when it's not going to bring the animal back.

“As long as the animals aren't going to be killed now, the coats that are here now, I cant see any problem re-wearing them. I don't like the fact that they're going to be killing animals in the future but I cant see the problem in wearing vintage."

White fur jacket in Harrods
The Fur council of Canada also held a similar opinion, claiming fur is natural, renewable, biodegradable and energy efficient". The British Fur Trade Association discovered it takes one gallon of oil to make three fake fur coats and that fake fur is responsible for 50 per cent of our toxic nitrous oxide emissions. Is wearing vintage more ethical than the black smoke that is left behind from a fake fur factory?

However, the University of Michigan claims research showed it took 20 times the amount of energy to make a real fur coat as opposed to that of a fake fur coat.  Either way a fake fur coat and a new fur coat have the same dilemma, the environment. Or is faux fur a way of keeping fashion ethical? Vintage leaves no carbon foot print on the planet and allows people to indulge in a material which has been used for clothing for thousands of years.

Nevertheless despite the environmental benefits of reusing fur, it can also be seen to promote a taste for real fur. Only you can decide if vintage fur is really worth the stigma of wearing it.