Fur. Fur can be a problem.
Weighty questions and subtle hypocrisies slide across luxurious animal fur to us, the fabulously contradictory soft-hearted carnivores, sensitive hunters and trappers, keen-eyed and chilly thrift store searchers, the wealthy and qualm-less buyers of modern fur, the spray-can wielding activist ...
We are all human animals who need and seem to love and respect other animals and also happen to wear, use and consume fur, leather and meat. To paraphrase Walt Whitman, we are “contradictory and contain multitudes,” we are aware and conscious or we choose to not think about it, we get emotional or violent about it, we get hungry and eat, we get cold, we continue to do as ancestors have done through centuries. This is a lively and fraught and enormously layered discussion to enter with you, but please, let’s save the rest of it for poolside, on a hot, sunny, half-naked day in summer because right now, I am cold as hell and only have a few hundred words.
The question facing this chilly vintage clothing store owner is: What can we do with vintage fur now? What to do with (yet another) natural material whose procurement involved the sudden death of something cute whilst our moms in beehive hairdos danced the Frug, an animal trapped when the Rolling Stones were young men, skinned as we laid on shag carpeting watching “Dallas” and “Fantasy Island”?
Recycling and preservation of fine and useable goods that are already made are the foundations of a second-hand and vintage clothing business, but those foundations rattle loudly and uncomfortably when a garment or accessory you’d like to “help keep on living” had its own literal life taken in the name of fashion, and /or is now endangered or rare (I’m looking at you, 1940s sealskin boots and 1920s tortoiseshell purse).
I think we should wear those old furs, the vintage hats, coats and collars made of sumptuous ermine, mink, fox, raccoon, bear. Wear them out, wear them to shreds, all the while enjoying and appreciating them, finding warmth in the sheepskin or rabbit or beaver. Wearing the fur of that beautiful animal is simply all that is left to do. What else? Throw it in the garbage?
Remember the recycling and preservation goal of mine? To destroy further she who has already been destroyed is the bigger “sin” here. Yes, sure, put the kibosh on manufacturing of new furs – does anyone really need it? In modern, non-native lifestyles where it was never a necessary or relevant part of our heritage or survival? Yes, quit with the modern and unnecessary trapping, by any means. But I say wear the old furs, showing ourselves and others up close one of the most gorgeous, miraculous and precious materials on our planet, wrap yourself up in it and share the rare beauty. Honor the amazing colors of that long-dead animal, its natural warmth and unbelievable softness. Let it make you feel more human, and also more animal. Focus on the present and give posthumous props to the animal whose coat you now share. The landfill holds no compliments.
Furry coat not your style? Get a used fur and redesign it to make a blanket, a shawl, a pet bed, a baby crib liner, a hat, a costume, hang a fur on your cold-ass bedroom wall for insulation or a sexy rug to lay on with your lover in front of the fire, whatever the repurposing remember the source and give respect and thanks.
Got a style/fashion question for Heather? Of course you do. Send it to [email protected]