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Fur clothing is clothing made entirely of, or partially of, the fur of animals. Fur is one of the oldest forms of clothing, thought widely used as hominids first expanded outside of Africa. Some view fur as luxurious; others reject it due to animal welfare and ethical concerns. The term 'a fur' is often used to refer to a coat, wrap, or shawl made from the fur of animals.

A fur mozetta, worn by a canon, Flanders

Contents

History and use

Wholesale dealer (Leipzig, 1862)

Fur is generally thought to have been among the first materials used for clothing and bodily decoration. The exact date when fur was first used in clothing is debated. It is known that several species of hominoids including Homo sapiens and Homo neanderthalensis used fur clothing.

Nutria jacket, reversible (2008)

Fur is still worn in most countries and may be associated with lavish spending, although an increasing number of consumers and designers reject fur because of cruelty.[1] Fur is still used by indigenous people and underdeveloped societies, due to its availability and insulation properties. The Inuit peoples of the Arctic relied on fur for most of their clothing, and it also forms a part of traditional Russian, Scandinavian and Japanese clothing.

Fur has become the focus of boycotts and popular scorn on the grounds that it is both cruel and unnecessary. PETA, along with other animal welfare organizations, celebrities, and ethicists, have called attention to the cruelty of fur farming. Fur farming is increasingly seen as inherently cruel due to anal and genital electrocution, improper shelter, malnutrition, and other common practices in the industry. [2]

Animal furs used in garments and trim may be dyed bright colors or with patterns, often to mimic exotic animal pelts: alternatively they may be left their original pattern and color. Fur may be shorn down to imitate the feel of velvet, creating a fabric called shearling.

Sources

Common animal sources for fur clothing and fur trimmed accessories include fox, rabbit, mink, beaver, stoat (ermine), otter, sable, seals, cats, dogs, coyotes, chinchilla, and possum[3]. Some of these are more highly prized than others, and there are many grades and colors.

Processing of fur

Traditional Lapp fur footwear

The manufacturing of fur clothing involves obtaining animal pelts where the hair is left on. Fur processing involves an array of chemicals from soaking and degreasing agents, to enzymes, oils and greases, bleaches, dyes, reinforcing agents, toners, tanning and finishing chemicals.[4] Workers exposed to dust created during fur processing have been shown to have reduced pulmonary function in direct proportion to their length of exposure.[5]

In contrast, leather made from any animal hide involves removing the fur from the skin and using only the tanned skin. The use of wool involves shearing the animal's hair from the living animal, so that the wool can be regrown. Fake fur or "faux fur" designates any synthetic material, produced from oil, that attempts to mimic the appearance and feel of real fur.

The chemical treatment of fur to increase its felting quality is known as carroting, as the process tends to turn the tips of the fur a yellowish-red "carrot like" color.

A furrier is a person who makes, repairs, alters, cleans, or otherwise deals in furs of animals.

Anti-fur campaigns

Christy Turlington during PETA's "I'd rather go naked than wear fur" campaign[6]
Anti-fur activists approach fur clothing wearers with a sign reading 'Attention! Skin of tortured animals'

Anti-fur campaigns reached a peak in the 1980s and 1990s, with the participation of numerous celebrities.[7]

Animal rights advocates object to the trapping and killing of wildlife, and to the confinement and killing of animals on fur farms due to concerns about the animals' welfare, suffering, and death in general. They promote "alternatives" made from synthetics (oil-based) clothing.

Some animal rights groups have disrupted fur fashion shows with protests while others sponsor anti-fur poster contests and fashion shows featuring faux furs or other alternatives to fur clothing. These groups sponsor "Compassionate Fashion Day" on the third Saturday of August to promote their anti-fur message. Other groups participate in "Fur Free Friday", an event held annually on the Friday after Thanksgiving (Black Friday) that occurs globally with the intent to bring the issue of fur to light through educational displays, protests and other methods of campaigning.

In Canada, opposition to the annual seal hunt is viewed as an anti-fur issue, although the Humane Society of the United States claims that its opposition is to "the largest slaughter of marine mammals on Earth."[8] IFAW, an anti-sealing group, claims that Canada has an "abysmal record of enforcement" of anti-cruelty laws surrounding the hunt[9] although a Canadian government survey[10] indicated that two thirds of Canadians supported the hunting of seals if the regulations under Canadian law are enforced.

Products from all marine mammals, even from non-threatened populations and regulated hunts, such as the Canadian seal hunt, are banned in the United States.[11]

Fur trade

The fur trade is the worldwide buying and selling of fur for clothing and other purposes. The fur trade was one of the driving forces of exploration of North America and the Russian Far East.

References

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