Fur or no fur, that is the question – The Beauty Biz

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Campaigners protest against Burberry’s use of fur on the catwalk

Author: Becckie Gingell
December 19 2006

Is it still acceptable in this day and age for clothes designers and retailers to use real animal fur? Always a hot topic, the debate has just become more heated with the recent Burberry catwalk in Milan, where models were seen draped in a variety of designs incorporating fur.

While there are many, especially in Britain, where this will be seen as outrageous, Burberry are defending their decision, issuing the following statement: “As a luxury brand, there will be occasions where the use of fur will be considered important to the design and aesthetics of a product. In those instances we will continue to use fur. However, we will not use fur if there is a serious concern that the fur has been produced by the unacceptable treatment of the animals concerned”.

Anti-fur campaigners do not accept this. In their view the conditions animals are kept in on fur farms are appalling, and they argue that such animals “are confined to cramped, dirty, wire cages, exposed to all weather conditions.” Moreover the methods used to kill animals are said to be extremely cruel, causing extreme and unnecessary pain.

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Fur farming in the UK was banned in 2003, but despite this sales of fur garments and accessories were up 30% in 2005, and the UK animal trade is now worth between £400m and £500m a year, and Tony’s wife Cherie Blair was photographed in 2005 wearing a rabbit-fur coat.

Just as the Blairs seems split on the subject, so does the fashion community. Like Burberry, Jean Paul Gautier and Prada (advertising rabbit-fur earmuffs) continue to use fur. However some designers have stopped entirely, including Ralph Lauren, Ann Taylor and J. Crew, and perhaps most famously, Stella McCartney, an active supporter of the PETA animal charity. UK retailers who have stopped selling fur include Top Shop and Selfridges.

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