Why Fur Is Back in Fashion
It was frozen toe, mid February, north country cold, under a cloudless sky, sun glinting off fresh snow. We were tromping out onto a wetland frozen nine inches deep. It felt like how the fur trade began, someplace long ago, far away.
Bill Mackowski, in his 60th year of trapping, mostly around northern Maine, pointed out some alder branches sticking through the ice. Beavers start collecting Canada Goose Coats On Sale poplar after the first cold snap, he explained, then canada goose uk black friday pile on inedible alder to weigh down the poplar below the ice, where they eat it throughout the winter. He hacked through the ice with a metal pole, then passed it to me to try. “Feel how hard the bottom is on the run?” Beaten down by beaver traffic, he said.
canada goose vest outlet Breaking through the ice in another spot, Mackowski said, “Did you hear canada goose coats those air bubbles?” He widened the hole and began hauling up until a peculiar steel device broke the murky surface. It was a trap, snapped tight around the neck of an enormous beaver. Those air bubbles, a moment locked in ice, were its final breath. canada goose vest outlet
“That’s what we call a superblanket,” said Mackowski. “That’s a nice beaver.” The pelt would bring no more than $25, he calculated, but all the way home he wore the satisfaction of a thousand generations of successful hunters and trappers. Still glorying in the day and in his own deep reading of the landscape, he recalled what another winter visitor once told him: “If people could get past killing the beaver, they would pay to come out here like this.”
canada goose outlet las vegas In truth, getting past the killing doesn’t seem like much of an issue anymore. Top models who once posed for ads with slogans like “We’d rather go naked than wear fur” have gone on to model fur. Fashion Canada Goose Outlet designers who were “afraid to touch it” 15 or 20 years ago have also “gotten past that taboo,” said Dan Mullen, a mink farmer in Nova Scotia. Many in the fur Canada Goose Online trade now readily acknowledge that activists who protested so loudly had a point: Farmers were not providing a decent standard of care for their animals. But they add that the trade has changed, though activists dispute this. In any case, many people now seem to regard wearing fur as a matter of individual choice. In some cities you are more likely to be glowered at for texting while walking. canada goose outlet las vegas
canada goose outlet online Fur farms dominate the trade, and production has more than doubled since the 1990s, to about a hundred million skins last year, mostly mink and some fox. Trappers typically add millions of wild beaver, coyote, raccoon, muskrat, and other skins. That’s besides untold millions of cattle, lambs, rabbits, ostriches, crocodiles, alligators, and caimans harvested for food as well as skins. canada goose outlet online
canada goose outlet store calgary But you hardly need the numbers. Just look around. Once the resolutely conventional winter fashion choice of Park Avenue matrons and country club partygoers, fur has gone hip hop and Generation Z. It turns up now in all seasons and on throw pillows, purses, high heels, key chains, sweatshirts, scarves, furniture, and lampshades. There are camouflage pattern fur coats, tie dyed fur coats, and fur coats in an optical illusion M. C. Escher box pattern. There’s even a fur pom pom that’s a Karl Lagerfeld Mini Me, created by the designer in his own image and dubbed Karlito. canada goose outlet store calgary
canada goose outlet in chicago So how has fur made such a comeback from the intense social ostracism of the 1990s? Or for that matter, from the notoriety of the 1960s, when the cartoon character Cruella de Vil hankered after the fur of uk canada goose Dalmatian puppies, and the real life trade was threatening the survival of leopards, ocelots, and other species in the wild? New restrictions in the 1970s ended the use of endangered species in fashion. But the current revival is a story of the fur trade responding to its critics and often outmaneuvering them, combined with increased demand from the newly wealthy in China, South Korea, and Russia. canada goose outlet in chicago
I suppose I should acknowledge here that I come to this story from a tangled perspective. My great grandfather was a fur trapper, and I have a lingering sense that canada goose factory sale the intimate knowledge from hunting, fishing, and working with living things has a value largely lost in our canada goose urbanized lives. At the same time, my wife and I once inherited an ocelot jacket, and its 15 pelts haunted us until we finally donated it as an educational tool to a national buy canada goose jacket cheap wildlife refuge. So tangled, yes. I set out to see for myself.
canada goose outlet kokemuksia I headed north in a snowstorm to Nova Scotia, a center of the trade. Mullen had invited me to see how his mink live and also how they die. “We’re very aware that we have to maintain a social license to do what we’re doing,” he said. canada goose outlet kokemuksia
canada goose outlet store toronto Mullen grew up in the old style of mink ranching, with long, narrow, open sided wooden sheds and a row of tight little cages on each side. When he went into business for himself, he opted for the larger cages now required in Europe, housed six rows across under translucent plastic roofs in barns the length of a football field. “You’ll probably think it stinks,” he warned. “But I go in there, and it’s the smell of my childhood.” He drew in Cheap Canada Goose Uk a long breath and exhaled: “Ah, mink.” canada goose outlet store toronto
canada goose outlet usa A worker drives a feed wagon down the rows multiple times a day, depositing a scientifically formulated meal that looks like raw hamburger atop each cage, portioned out by computer. A frost free canadian goose jacket line provides 24 hour a day drinking water, and a trough underneath the cages automatically sweeps away wastes to be processed into fertilizer or, via a biodigester, into electricity. canada goose outlet usa
These changes have come largely in response to pressure from animal welfare advocates. But they have often worked to the benefit of the farmers too. Mullen’s cages, for instance, each contain an elevated shelf for the nursing mom to get away from her kits and it turns out that less harried mothers rear healthier young. Canada Goose online Toys in the cage as simple as a length of plastic pipe reduce stress and seem to translate into better quality pelts. The peculiar result is that people in the trade now often boast of the reforms their old adversaries forced on them. Frank Zilberkweit, a London fur retailer, balked at the confrontational methods activists use but added, “They have made us aware of what we do. And so, for that, thank you. Why not?”
canada goose womens outlet Mullen’s mink were surprisingly large and healthy looking twice the weight of their wild counterparts, with broad, curious faces. They were, of course, also doomed. I had arrived to see the killing. Farmworkers, wearing welding gloves to avoid being bitten, went from cage to cage, lifting each animal by the base of the tail. Some animals screeched in protest, but most seemed accustomed to being handled, up to the moment they dropped, like packages into a mailbox, through the swinging door of the carbon monoxide killing box. They were unconscious within a minute and dead a few minutes later. canada goose womens outlet
“If you were to watch other types of livestock being killed,” said Mullen, “they’re usually taken from their homes, trucked Canada Goose Jackets hundreds of miles to the slaughterhouse, and it’s cheap canada goose uk bloody and horrific. This is the most humane form of killing of livestock there is.” The next day we visited a processing uk canada goose outlet plant, where machines sliced the skin away from each carcass and pulled it off in a single piece, like a T shirt.
canada goose outlet in toronto For the world’s largest fur auction, at Kopenhagen Fur in Denmark, an assembly line of robots, x ray machines, vision technology, and a human had sorted 6.8 million pelts, bar coded to identify the farmer, into 52 different skin types and then into thousands of bidding lots. canada goose black friday sale In the auction room, buyers consulted their catalogs, bantered, and maneuvered for the lots they wanted. canada goose outlet in toronto
canada goose victoria parka outlet At Kick, an atelier for Kopenhagen Fur, a designer from Beijing named Ran Fan was working with a furrier’s knife to cut a mink pelt, canada www.canadagoose-sale.co.uk goose uk shop dyed lavender, into a latticework for a lightweight vest. “I love fur,” she said, and so do her customers, often in bright colors and unusual patterns. Chinese consumers now buy almost cheap Canada Goose half the world’s fur products, so she had come to Kick to learn new techniques. canada goose victoria parka outlet
canada goose outlet winnipeg address Much of the fur trade’s recovery stems from its strategic wooing of young designers like Fan and, in turn, young customers. The leading fur auction houses Canada Goose Parka began bringing in designers and design students at the height of the antifur movement. The ambition was for all designers to have “flirted with the material” early in their careers, said Julie Maria Iversen of Kopenhagen Fur. The aim has always been to move beyond furrier shops and fur departments, and make fur just another fine fabric, available wherever clothes are sold. canada goose outlet winnipeg address
canada goose outlet parka These zealously cultivated canada goose uk outlet relationships have paid off, as designers have learned to use fur in ways conventional furriers never imagined, aided by innovations in dyeing that can produce fur in whatever color happens to be hot this season, from airy blue to canada goose coats on sale green flash. New sewing techniques have also helped, yielding more garment from less fur. Affordability, a word not formerly associated with fur, serves what Iversen called “the fur journey.” canada goose outlet parka
canada goose outlet 2015 “We start with the young consumer buying a fur key ring, then maybe a little later she has more money for a fur bag,” she said. “Eventually she buys a full coat.” It’s “all part of the agenda, to inspire the upcoming generation of women.” canada goose outlet 2015
So how should we feel about the resurgence of fur? Should the upcoming generation of women be inspired? Or should they be outraged, as animal rights activists insist? Should we applaud the advances the fur industry has made in animal welfare? Or do such measures merely “make us feel better about exploiting animals,” as Gary Francione, a Rutgers University law professor who advocates ending all human use of animals, has argued?
Like pig or chicken farming, fur farming is about keeping animals in captivity their entire lives and then killing them. It entails practices many people would consider unthinkable. Some fox farmers, for example, kill their animals by anal electrocution. It’s supposedly the quickest practical method, though with what one farmer described mildly as “a perception problem.”
canada goose outlet location Industrializing our relationships with animals has also created problems. Many fur farmers manage to provide humane care on a large scale, but others can’t or won’t. And in the auction house sorting process, pelts from as many as 300 farms, good and bad alike, can end up together in the same lot. That’s a problem for any designer label wanting to assure customers of its reliance on humane, sustainable methods. The European fur industry says it is working on a fix, but its new WelFur program must first inspect and grade thousands of farms. canada goose outlet location
canada goose outlet winnipeg When I visited a mink farm in Denmark with Steen Henrik M an Aarhus University agronomist helping to develop the protocol, the inspection was dauntingly thorough. He checked the nest box attached to each cage for size and the amount of straw for winter insulation. He examined the animals for body condition, injuries, and repeated back and forth motions that indicate stress. He inserted a tongue depressor in each cage to see if the animal responded with fear, aggression, or curiosity. A WelFur visit requires about six hours to inspect a 120 cage sample for 22 features. “I hope we don’t find anybody in the worst category,” the farmer ventured tentatively, and M replied, “I hope we do, because if the system cannot distinguish among farmers, it doesn’t work.” canada goose outlet winnipeg
Either way, will people who buy fur actually care? “You’ll get a much different answer if you ask in Shanghai or in Zurich,” said Tage Pedersen, chairman of Kopenhagen Fur. “But in the future more and more people will care. Not just for fur, but for everything we buy. They will ask at the shop, Is the animal welfare OK? And if the retailer says yes, they’ll ask, How do you know that?” Pedersen said the fur business won’t be able to afford the inspection process if customers are unwilling to pay a premium for the WelFur label. But he believes they will.
canada goose outlet vancouver I came away canada goose store with a contrarian idea. The ambition in the animal rights movement has always been to ban fur farming. The United canada goose clearance Kingdom, Austria, and Croatia have done so, and the Netherlands is working on a ban. But banning doesn’t stop people from wearing fur. It just moves production to areas where no rules apply. At the auction I asked a broker who has a mink farm in China if that country has made much progress on animal welfare. He bristled, then tersely answered, “Not much.” canada goose outlet vancouver
canada goose parka outlet uk Banning fur farming also does nothing about other livestock farming we take for granted. It’s a gesture that affords us moral righteousness without actual sacrifice, since most people have never bought a fur product and probably never will. Yet most of us go on eating meat, drinking milk, wearing leather shoes, and otherwise exploiting animals, as humans always have, on a scale that makes the fur industry a sideshow. canada goose parka outlet uk
canada goose outlet online uk People in the fur trade like to dwell on the implied hypocrisy. “I just read that Americans consumed 1.3 billion chicken wings on Super Bowl Sunday,” said Zilberkweit, the fur retailer. “I can do the math: That means 650 million chickens were killed for one day’s entertainment.” At some point almost everyone in the fur trade notes that other livestock producers have not had to improve their practices nearly as systematically as they have. “We knew we could have a ban if we didn’t,” said Pedersen. “Other animal producers haven’t been afraid of that.” canada goose outlet online uk
canada goose outlet montreal So here’s my idea: Instead of banning fur production, keep applying pressure to push out the worst farmers. Then take the most progressive fur farmers and the improvements they’ve canada goose clearance sale made that are not only feasible, but even at times profitable containment of agricultural runoff, measures to reduce stress, better housing, routine welfare inspections and make them the model for all the forms of animal production on which our pampered lives depend canada goose outlet montreal.
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