Runways Around the World Feature Fur

In the year 2000, there were only 41 designers using fur in ready-to-wear. The teeny numbers are largely thanks to the efforts of groups like PETA in shifting popular opinion about fur in the ’90s.

Today, however, there are over 500 designers using fur in ready-to-wear. From New York to Milan, and from the catwalk to the crowd, it’s hard to look anywhere at Fashion Week without seeing an animal pelt draped over someone’s shoulders. All the hot designers, from Alexander Want to Hood By Air, are experimenting with fur.

On the British catwalks last year, more than 60% of shows featured fur. At New York Fashion Week the figure topped 70%.

While luxury labels such as Fendi have a long history of featuring real fur in their shows, fur is increasingly being used by newer brands as well. In New York, the up-and-coming label Cushnie et Ochs said fur was its favorite material of the season, adding that it was “not ashamed”.

Mark Oaten, CEO of the International Fur Federation, said he was not surprised by the growth in production as the taboo around wearing real fur was fading into irrelevance. “We knew from the catwalks that fur is certainly being used much more by designers and from some of the retail figures, that the sales are going strongly,” he said.

“Designers have embraced fur for its unique textural characteristics, its visual cues and its warmth, its sustainability, and the creative flexibility it offers,” says Keith Kaplan from Fur Information Council of America. “Innovations in manufacturing technology have made fur a broad creative canvas. The result is more designers are adapting fur in more ways than ever to ready-to-wear, outerwear, shoes, and accessories.”

These days, the fur manufacturers are fighting back against organizations like PETA with their own marketing campaigns that purport real fur as being more natural and sustainable than faux fur. The campaigns highlight the negative environmental impact fake fur manufacturing due to its use of non-renewable petroleum-based materials like nylon. These non-renewable petroleum-based materials take thousands of years to decompose and can cause nitrous oxide pollution. The campaigns also tout furring as a job-creating industry. Valued at $1.39 billion in the US in 2013, some fur proponents estimate the industry employs more than 200,000 people in North America alone.

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