Nothing Short of Chic: Leather & Fur: The Cruel Side Of Fashion?


Leather & Fur: The Cruel Side Of Fashion?

Why is it that leather is chic but fur a crime?.

Visiting Italy was an incredible experience for me in many ways, and has created two week's worth of memories I'll likely never forget. I stayed mainly in Florence and developed an intimate relationship with the city in only eight days; and knowing how the city worked and its little things made my experience all the richer. As you probably know, Florence is one of the world's biggest leather capitals, which I got to see firsthand. Street merchants selling leather handbags to anyone who would take them; streets lined with handmade leather goods stores including everything from journal covers to bags to shoes; and row upon row of wallets displayed in the outdoor market in San Lorenzo.

At the same time, browsing Instagram, I noticed many comments damning the many fashionistas that filled my feed daring to wear fur (even fake):

"Animals died for your fur coat."

"Fur is not okay to wear. Honestly, why do you have the need to wear the skins of another animal? How is that attractive??"

"Are you wearing your cat?"

These were joined by many other sarcastic/dramatic comments. While it may be harsh to write these things on someone's photo, perhaps a little unnecessary, they do have a point. Being vegan, I strongly oppose to the wearing of fur, even if I phrase my opinion in a less tear-down way. But what about leather (and suede)? The steps taken to create the beautiful, textured, and extremely versatile material that is used to make skirts, jackets, bags, shoes, and everything in between (including sweat pants and crop tops) are not very humane...

Just so you know, "Leather can be made from cows, pigs, goats, and sheep; exotic animals such as alligators, ostriches, and kangaroos; and even dogs and cats (often slaughtered for their meat and skin in China - who export their skins internationally)." Of course, cheap leather may be made from any of these, and don't have to write on the label which skin the item is made from! So you very well might be "wearing your cat" unintentionally. Remember that suede is made the same way as leather, and is simply the underside of the skin (the part that isn't textured).

So why isn't leather seen as animal cruelty by the general public? Animals used for leather are often treated just as badly or worse as those used for fur. And these aren't just animals that are seen as "food" by many people - unless alligators, ostriches, kangaroos, and house pets are a part of your daily diet. Leather is just as cruel as fur, if not more so, but the difference is that society has thought of fur as "wrong" for a long time while people buy leather and suede without thinking twice.

By now, you're probably thinking, "What a hypocrite! There are many posts that feature fur, shearling, leather, and suede on NSOC, and here you are telling me not to?" In fact, my last post featured a leather jacket and matching shoes! So let me elaborate here. I never wear real fur (all the fur/shearling/suede I wear is "faux" - just a chicer way of saying "fake") and the leather I wear is always either imitation/vegan leather or secondhand. If I buy fur or leather from a thrift shop or vintage boutique, I'm okay with it because 1) I wasn't the cause for the animal's death because I didn't order it new, and 2) If the animal is already dead, having sacrificed its skin for this garment, throwing it away would be so disrespectful. The item exists, I can't change that, but I might as well let it live out its warranty. However, it's not often that my clothing items are made with real animal products.

The goal of this post is not to offend anyone, only to make you all think. If you have a question or concern about this post or my opinion on the matter, feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts. Since I was in close contact with leather so much in Florence, I felt I had to write this in the hopes that people will start to think about animal cruelty and what it means in terms of fashion (for example, Coach's latest collection was chock-full of shearling. And Balmain constantly puts out leather look after leather look). Of course, there are many designers who are conscious of this (take Stella McCartney) but there are lots more that don't. I hope you, as fashion-lovers, will help open the public eye to this cruelty in the name of looking good.

Thank you for reading this.

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