Recycled cruelty?

Harricana recycled fur bag 3

As I try to have an inspirational and positive wibe in my blog, it makes it sometimes really hard for me to write about things that piss me off. Many of these subjects I don´t write about at all, but sometimes I have to speak my mind on things. This usually happens when I´m angry enough. This time the sore subject is fur farming. Finland is the largest manufacturer of fox pelts in the world and Denmark is the leading mink-producing country. Other major foreign producers include Netherlands, Russia, China and Canada. Last week yet another film about the cruel and poor living conditions of these animals was seen in Finnish media and raised discussion weather Finland should also join countries like England, Sweden, Austria and Switzerland, that have prohibited fur farming complitely. I´m not going to get into the video footage or details further as you can read and see them yourself online, but here´s my take on this issue.

PETA Christy_Turlington_ad

Fur sales dropped drastically after the lavish 1980´s (propably most due to early 90´s depression, but also agressive PETA and Fur Is Dead campaigning) but have made new record sales in the 2000's because followed celebs like Madonna, Beyonce, Kate Moss and a bunch of other bling bling starlets are again parading themselves in fur coats, fueling the trend and inspiring a whole new fast fashion generation of fur-wearers. So suddenly after 20 years it is fashionable again and socially acceptable to walk around wearing fur. This means more animals to the slaughter, because as we all know, if something is trendy, thousands more people want it new and they want it now... And of course they go to Zara/H&M/GinaTricot rather than bother looking for a vintage or recycled alternative.

I prefer if fur production would be stopped complitely in Finland (preferably worldwide!) as some of the farmers obviously have no idea how to run their businesses ethically and morally even with clear guidelines set by EU on how animals should be treated. I´m very much against any kind of industrial animal farming in general, because it´s just sick the way it´s done these days. But I don´t condem wearing fur if it is recycled. For me genuine recycled fur is better than new fake fur which is made mostly from oil (most manmade fibres are made from oil) and I see no point in making something new when the real material already exists and is available secondhand. I myself have two fur coats, both bought used. I feel that they are perfect for eveningwear in the freezing temperatures of Scandic winter. I´ve had them over ten years and propably will for another twenty before recycling them. If kept well fur garments are good for 100 years which makes them very eco and sustainable in a way as they have a much longer lifecycle than for example cotton or most manmade fibres.  This means that the same garment can be used by three generations!

Secondhand stores around the world have more than enough of fur from past years to supply fashion industry for a lifetime. If supply for new fur is stopped or rapidly decreased wouldn´t it mean that the value of secondhand fur raises and fashion industry has to seek new ways to design fur through recycling and reusing it? I´d be very intrested to see what kind of designs high street fashion houses come up with from recycled fur. Surprisingly even with the current eco and recycle boom that´s been going on the couple of years there are still very few fashion brands that use recycled fur in their collections and too many that use new fur. Canadian Harricana by designer Mariouche Gagné bases all their collections on recycled fur (her interview from MiniMidiMaxi and videos below). Their long fur vest, neck tube scarf and laptop cases are my favorites as they have a timeless design.

Genuine fur is already a high end material. If production of new is stopped and the prices of secondhand furs rise, would this luxurious (recycled) material finally have the diamond status it should, but made sustainably. Like a rare piece of fashion antique.

Recyled fur designs by Harricana. Bags, vests, wrap capes, boot covers, pillows, throws..

Harricana recycled fur laptop bag 1
Harricana recycled fur tube scarf
Harricana recycled fur bag 2
Harricana recycled fur bag 4
Harricana recycled fur vest 2
Harricana recycled fur wrap capelet

Cushions from recycled fur coats by The Coat Check.
Recycled mink fur pillows by The Coat Check at Etsy

Recycled Wildcat Fur bag by Fohn.
Recycled Wildcat Fur bag by Fohn at Etsy

Find handmade fashions from recycled fur at Etsy.

Harricana: Recycled Fur - The best video clips are right here

Outi Les Pyy

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  1. Recycled or NO fur for me! Great post!

  2. Recycled is just as bad as fur. It's hypocritical to only like one. It's still going to play into the cycle of people wanting to wear fur.

    Genitally electrocuted or skinned alive..whether it happened in the past or present, it still happened.

    I wrote a very short blog on my thoughts a while ago:

  3. I agree with you, Outsa. I don't understand why second hand fur should not be worn. I've heard the arguments against, but I think they're not strong enough. Their only point seems to be that wearing fur - even second hand - also promotes fur and that way supports the fur industry. For me reusing existing materials (as opposed to making new ones) has a greater value, and as you said, fur garments are extremely durable.

    I would also accept sheep fur if the sheep are ethically raised. Or fur from wild animals. But I don't accept fur farming and I would love to see it stop, everywhere.

  4. I agree with you! I don't think it's bad, it would be worse if we were throwing old fur away. It would be more desrespectful, I mean, as if it wasn't enough killing an animal for vanity, in the way Nancy Magoo described it...

    I would never buy fur, but I love all the fur my grandma gave me.


  5. Nancy, if you feel that past should dictate the future of a garment, then according to that logic I should also leave all the other sweatshopped clothing to the secondhand shops and not even wear them as recycled. To me that makes no sence and therefore I will wear them if they are recycled as I want to support reusing. Using recycled garments have the least enviromental impact to eco and normal goods.

    I´m sure many of you propably feel passionate about animals and are fully against fur. Just note that beign eco or ethical can be done in many ways and has many levels. This is just where I personally draw the line on fur. I hope "we can agree to disagree" :)

    I once had a discussion about this with a girl who was wearing all new H&M polyesters. I thought it was funny that she had issues of me wearing my secondhand fur coat but no trouble of her own newly bought sweatshop laboured clothing. I suppose some people just prefer animals to human. :P

  6. hehe just to your last post... the human wasn't skinned alive and really did have a choice :p

    Anyway, I am glad that you posted about this, though I believe in no fur at all.
    @nd hand or fake... it still represents the LOOK of fur therefore people liking the LOOK but wanting to seem to elite will still go for the real NEW fur.
    I don't understand why people would want to wear dead things anyway... I mean when I see someone wearing leather and fur I see that guy from that movie that would cut up human skin and wear it... it's all skin right? and all off living, breathing, FEELING beings with souls... little or big :)

  7. I don't wear real fur and never would whether recycled or not. It's just not something I would want on my body. I'm also vegetarian if you'd like to count that in to my reasoning.

    I do however wear a faux fur coat which I originally bought from a high street store and has lasted almost 10 years of regular wear. I have never bought another coat during that time. I think the argument of wearing old real fur over new faux fur is a bit ridiculous. Anyone who goes out and buys a faux fur coat on a fashion whim to wear once I agree is a moron, but they're a moron for everything they buy as disposable, not just the whole fur thing.

    As for the comments on H&M you all seem rather misinformed. I work for the company (everyone needs a job) and they don't use child labour or any of the other things you're all suggesting so that's a null argument. Read their website and you'll see they do an awful lot of good, which is rare for a high street chain.

    Faux fur fashion isn't going to make most normal people suddenly long for a fox fur shrug. If people want to wear real fur they're going to do so anyway. Most of us are happy in our faux fur and I really don't see the issue there.

  8. Well done for writing about the fur issue so well, although there are many other points to the argument that you didn't include. In my opinion, all farms should be subject to very very rigorous checks to ensure animals are raised healthily and killed humanely - but in many countries this is sadly not the case. I also feel that an animal should be killed for both its skin and meat, so nothing is wasted.

    Until farmers globally have the means act more responsibly, I will definitely follow your advice to buy only recycled fur or no fur at all.

  9. I couldn't agree with you more. I was in a vintage store and my aunt bought be a gorgeous 1920's swing coat with fur trim. I said "I feel bad that there's fur on it". The lady behind the counter said "don't feel bad, that animal has been dead longer than we've been alive and you're not letting him go to waste by still looking fabulous in him!". There are so many surplus and vintage furs that there is really no need to keep farming... and I think personally that it is less cruel to wear vintage than just to destroy the garment completely. I do agree though that if fur farming has to happen, it should be from animals that are raised for both fur AND meat. Bravo, great post!

  10. Illyanna, As far as I know the "choise" poor people make when having to work in a sweatshop factory is close to zero. :P The conditions and workhours is inhuman. Textile industry workers often also have to work with toxic chemicals, so I´m sure their life is shortened significantly due to fast cheap fashion.

    Also about wearing dead things.. I have also fascinators made from real skulls and birdsfeet earrings which I think are absolutely gorgeous. I have bought them from a taxidermyartist. My taste in accessories is clearly more macabre than yours, but we all have different taste in style.

    Gemma, I sayd people should wear more recycled real fur, not faux. Child labour and sweatshop labour are also different things. Even though a company would not hire kids, cheap fast fashion is still very bad for the environment in general. A waste of materials, chemicals and energy. H&M (and the others mentioned) might have done few clothes made from eco materials, but they are still lightyears away from being a sustainable fashion company. It´s not that you suggested this, but I wanted to be clear to what is the main reason that I do not like these brands (or any other cheap fast fashion company). Not the labour but the unnecessary production. I do buy some of my clothes new, but very few. Most are secondhand or eco. As I said, "Using recycled garments has the least enviromental impact to eco and normal goods."

    I don´t trust company websites and ad propaganda, but have actually personally visited a few clothing factories (for sportswear) on location in China in the late 90´s. And even though these factories were considered "clean" I felt very differently about them. I´m sure many are still the same way as they were 10 years ago. People were working there in 12-15 hours a day 7 days a week.

    If a brand wants to be good, they need to do a hell of a lot more than some charity to be eco. 100% sustainable would be a good goal, but that is virtually impossible for a cheap fashion chain. I´d love to know how many % of the entire H&M collection is made from eco/recycled materials and how many % of the company´s turnover is actually donated to charity and other related projects.

    Antevorta, I wanted the post to concentrate on the arguments on using more secondhand and not the actual fur production issues. The fur farming industry in Finland obviously needs more regulation, surprise checks to have be "bad apples" weeded out, but so do all the other companies that use industrially grown animals (poltry, pigs and cows). Even though they are raised for their meat and are not wild animals, I think the production way is not healthy for the animals and many suffer unnesessarily. I also stopped to eat industrially produced meats two years ago.

    But I´m not judging anyone for their choises. I also DO work for a fashion company that is not eco... I love the brand design and the people that I work with and it is mentally frustrating for me to do so as they are in some conflict with my ethics. Like you said, we all need a job.. I try to balance this mental conflict with sharing ideas with this blog and all my recycled DIY fashion projects hoping that I will get more people to change their fashion consumption habits t more sustainable and also get into making DIY fashion instead of buying always new.

  11. I´m a totally animal lover and activist of animal rights, so I could not wear a dead animal on me! I think that you make a statement if you wear a fur, if it´s fake or real, people don´t know is your fur vintage or new. Althought I´m glad that so many people don´t accept furs and buy vintage ones to fill they love about furs.

  12. I completely and utterly agree! New fur - not ok. Old fur - ok. Fake fur - bad for the environment.

  13. outi, completely agree. I bought a fur coat (it's actually a lot like the vest in the 5th photo down, but with sleeves!) in Paris in October, and had been looking for one for a while, but was looking for the perfect vintage one instead of buying one of the many coats in the stores this autumn...

    Fur IS a luxury item, and to stop fur production today would mean vintage furs would achieve their luxury state. It's not like vintage fur is hard to get hold of - the vintage store I got mine from had an entire wall, with two long rails on it, full of fur coats - probably 100+, in just one little store in Paris.


  14. If one considers only the production, energy and enviromental effect, eating industrially produced meat daily is actually far worse than wearing fur. This is one of the reasons why I have no trouble wearing my two secondhand fur coats as I thought it was more important for me to give up meat. Though fur and leather production uses loads of harmful chemicals, just so you know it´s not really that eco material to produce as cotton. But it does last way longer in wearing..

    So many pros and cons on goes crazy thingking about this stuff.. Especially on a Sunday morning.

    Was it McCartney, that said that human kind could literately solve the food and energy crises and cut down on emissions if we´d cut down our meat consumtion to half?? Or was it just one day. I can´t remember.

  15. After reading some more of the comments I wondered of some of the commenters -

    Gemma - If you are so against fur surely you shouldn't wear faux either? To me this says you like the look, and buy liking and wearing the look you are still promoting it. Most people wouldn't be able to tell the difference between real and faux fur...

    This leads into what SalSaDesign says about people not knowing if fur is new or old. No one can tell - if you are wearing fur of any sort, then you are wearing fur to the viewer.
    As such, we shouldn't take the views of others into consideration. I'll refer back to my earlier post, by saying that new fur (and perhaps faux) production should be banned, bringing actual luxury back to the fur look.

    Another point; fur is often worn as a status symbol, a statement of wealth. Today we have an abundance of imagery when it comes to designer clothes - if we someone wearing these, we are likely to recognise the piece, and we know that they have the money and the what is the point? There's certainly not a shortage of previously existing fur in the world, therefore no excuse for bringing more fur into the world.

    I got a bit rambl-y there, sorry!

  16. Jenn- I didn´t mean that like that. I really don´t care what other people says about me or my wearings, I just don´t want to make the statement about wearing a fur, faux- vintage-new because I´m totally against the industry. It´s the same thing if you are an vegetarian, but you eat this meat because the animal is butchered just for you or you love Chanel bags but don´t afford to buy a real one- and buy a fake one.And my opinion is that there is nothing luxurious about fur, what is the luxury state about vintage fur? I don´t get it? My english is terrible and I am not apply to say everything like i mean them, sorry.

  17. I guess you mean you see no luxury in the fur whatsoever? I get that; I mean, if you are against fur entirely then you won't see the appeal/luxury.

    But I think, because it's not exclusive due to the amount of fur/faux available, there's no luxury...
    It used to be considered luxury; high-end; exclusive, because it was expensive and as such only the rich could afford it, no? So the reason it's still looked upon as luxury, I assume, is because of that association and also because designers/couture shoes feature fur still, especially for Autumn/Winter...

  18. I would love to wear fur but I have some conditions: the fur has come from an animal that has lived free and I have to finish it off myself (or someone I know can do it, so I can be sure that the used methods are ok). Also the animal must not be killed for the fur only, e.g. fox that disturb henhouses etc are ok, minks in Finland generally disturb everything so that's ok, and the city rabbits in Helsinki are a nuisance. I'm planning to hunt the city rabbits as soon as we get rid of this snow and if the pelts are in good conditions, I'd like to make me some gloves :D I also intend to eat the meat (epic "near food", straight from my back yard) so the rabbit is not killed for the pelts only. Also moose pelts and reindeer pelts are ok since they run free and are not killed only for the skin.
    I also accept sheep pelts for as far as I understand the sheep is used as a total and they can't much be intensively produced like pigs.

    Now all I have to do is to learn how to handle the pelts and skin so it can be used on garments.

    I do hesitate, though, since if I wear fur it may be a signal to other people that it's ok (in my opinion) and they might then buy new fur garment that is made out of a pelt from a fur farm. That's not ok...

  19. annepa, the end part of your text is just what I meant by the statement in my text. People see your rabbit gloves and think they look fabulous and want to get themselves the same kind of gloves and go and buy them from the store. I also can think that in the street quite a few people would come to you and ask where have you get them, so you could explain to them that you have made them by yourself from free cityrabbit.
    I think hunting free forest animals is kinda ok. I also know hunters which ones I wouldn´t want to hunt, because they don´t respect the animal or don´t have skills enought to hit the animal in first shut. Then there are also all kind of traps. When I in the past became an vegetarian, I thought in the beginning that I could eat organic meat but I couldn´t. I tought that if I coul not kill the animal my bare hands i´m not justified to eat the meat - it was all or nothing to me. Althought, I think it´s much better to meatlovers to buy organic meat/eggs/milk than the regular one. And it would be nice that people would eat fish and vegetables like two or three times a week instead of meat - it would be a radical change to meat industry like Outi told earlier.

  20. SalSaDesign, I feel ya! I'm thinking of wearing the rabbit gloves only at our cottage above the Arctic Circle in the middle of nowhere (no roads, no electricity) when it's as cold as this (-30 or something). Then no fashionable and trendy city people could NOT take wrongly after my example. Let's see, if I even learn how to handle the skin :)

  21. "I do hesitate, though, since if I wear fur it may be a signal to other people that it's ok (in my opinion) and they might then buy new fur garment that is made out of a pelt from a fur farm. That's not ok..."

    This is my issue with reused fur. Keeping it in public view is, to me, a disservice to what I think of animals.

    And when I see a material I like on a stranger, I rarely quiz them as to where they got it so the context of how it came to be a product (whether it's made from vintage furs or animals otherwise killed for things is) so the idea that the context of the material will be relevant for folks who visually see it and want it, for the most part, is not likely. Unless you live in a small village and talk to everyone in it. And I don't know many people who live in those places, personally.

    I do think there is still a disconnect with the fur-farmed animals vs companion animals. I just posted this on the Wardrobe Remix discussion thread re fur but it's relevant for this post, too:

    Also, I am just totally squicked by the idea of wearing dead skins upon my person. When my cats die I want them cremated or buried, not hanging off someone's body, you know? That point is what always amazes me about fur-wearers. We have so many companion animals that are buried or cremated and if we used those after they lived a natural life, we essentially would never have to farm for fur. But people are actually connected to their companion animals and have 0 connection to fur farmed animals so those animals don't matter to them. Like, if you found a vintage fur coat made of cat or dog, would you wear it?

  22. I absolutely loved this. Completely agree with your thoughts love, thanks for your perspective :)

  23. Fur should not be wear never, is just unnecesary and is you used it, even the reciclyn one, you are promoting the using of fur like fashion that can make other people buy new one