Fur Fox sake: Global fur sales on a slow decline

6 mins read

More sloth than mink – the anti-fur movement is gaining global attention, but dragging in speed. 

Slovenia and Serbia are the most recent newcomers, passing legislature to ban all fur farming and joining the ranks of likeminded countries like Norway, Luxemburg, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the UK.

California, meanwhile, is now the first US state to ban the sale and manufacture of all fur products. 

Popular department chain Macy’s Inc. have also recently made the announcement that they will stop sales of real-fur products in their stores, including their flagship Bloomingdales, by 2020.

Yet despite these progressive steps, worldwide fur demand is on a worryingly-slow decline. 

Particularly in the Americas, where fur is now becoming the go-to luxury item incorporated into all sorts of interior comforts – from rugs and furniture to pillows and lamp shades, despite extensive campaigns by animal rights groups such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

In the US, spending on pelts by the furniture industry has annually risen by over 2 per cent in recent years, particularly for the use of fur as a chair and sofa covering. 

Credit: The Independent

So, despite Macy’s pledge to cut fur sales, fur is still being used by some of the biggest names in the fashion industry and sold by the most exclusive American department stores. 

Fur bean bags and stools can now be found alongside mink coats designed by The Row at Bergdorf Goodman, and a belted mink coat with crystal embroidery by Oscar de la Renta is now sold alongside fur lampshades and rugs at Neiman Marcus.

The same can unfortunately be seen on this side of the Atlantic as well. 

Designers like the German online retailer Lars Paustian proudly manufacture fur furniture – offering everything from benches and sofas to headboards and even wine bottle chillers, made of mink and chinchilla.

Meanwhile, an investigation by National Geographic earlier this year revealed that many people continue to turn a blind eye to graphic images of animals kept captive in industrial-scale fur farms.

“Within the majority of the Americas, particularly in South America, fur farms continue to dominate the trade, and production has more than doubled since the 1990s, to about 100 million skins a year, mostly mink and fox,” the investigation found. 

“Trappers typically add millions of wild beaver, coyote, raccoon, muskrat and other skins as well. This is besides untold millions of cattle, lambs, rabbits, ostriches, crocodiles, alligators and caimans harvested for food as well as skins.”

The National Geographic report also highlights industrialisation and job concerns as a key current problem for the anti-fur movement, with the Fur Council of America stating that: “the human toll to forcing these businesses to close with no compensation to the business owners will be immeasurable. 

“They will lose generation of investment and their livelihoods will be cut off. Their staffs, many of them highly skilled craftsmen, will join the ranks of the unemployed.”

This is nonetheless juxtaposed with the cruel methods of captivity exercised at the farms, and the bizarre slaughter practices, such as anal electrocution – which the farmers say is supposedly the quickest, practical method.

Similar investigations have been carried out by animal rights groups worldwide within the last decade, revealing cruel malpractices, lack of sanitary or hygiene standards, high risk of contamination and disease (including rabies), and high animal mortality rates.  Hidden-camera videos filmed by animal rights activists exposing the conditions of fur-farms have become  viral  on YouTube over the last few years, depicting malnutrition, cramped cages, forced breeding and neglect. 

The same can be said of the transport conditions animals are subjected to while in transit – with videos exposing sealed, unventilated crates, which frequently cause suffocation, broken limbs and the spread of disease during long periods of transportation.  

But this is currently still counterbalanced by the worldwide demand for fur products, and the monetary value of the pelts. It is more than likely that the recent incorporation of fur into aspects of interior design by the world’s leading brands is exacerbating the issue.

In South America, Africa, regions in eastern Europe and the Far East, the fur industry remains a highly profitable economic model, exports yielding a high profit margin, while accruing low costs due to a lack of strict compliance standards. 

The reliance of the local communites on the jobs created by the fur-trade remains one of the key obstacles for the anti-fur movement, since no labour alternatives are  currently provided for the developing countries which rely on the trade most heavily. 

Despite the anti-fur movement remaining a heated issue, most European nations, as well as many democratic US states like New York, Illinois and Massachusetts, are already in the process of either discussing or implementing legislature on the ban of sale and manufacturing of fur. 

Hopefully, the initiative will soon gain the momentum needed to surpass the worldwide pelt chase.

Featured Image Credit: The LA Times

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Hi there. I'm Irina, a student/staff member at University of Stirling, studying English and Journalism.

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