Is Fur Sustainable? My update: analysis and reflections
Is fur sustainable? Can you share more information about the industry’s sustainability? This is one of the most frequently asked questions on this site!
Are Blackglama furs Danish? When the Fur Collection Development Manager of one of the most influential fashion brands in the world asked me this question I understood that I had to write this guide.
Blackglama minks furs are originally American. They are sold by the fur auction house Nafa.
It’s a bit like asking if Coca Cola is an Italian brand.
Other questions we are often asked include: We can’t decide whether to use real fur because it is too polluting! Do you recommend eco-fur? Do you know any suppliers? Is fur sustainable?
Ok, take a deep breath.
Real furs do not pollute, they absolutely do not damage the environment.
- Since the post is titled “Is fur sustainable?” below the index of the post structure.
- Sustainability and traceability of skins from farms
- Sustainability and traceability of hides coming from hunting
- A surprise for you
In recent years fashion brands have been asking for transparency from the fur sector, the possibility to trace the sources of skins and the proof of the sustainability of our sector.
This is because of the scarce communication on the theme of fur caused by the (wrong) decision of the International Fur Federation to neither promote nor defend our sector for years
“Our sector is doing well, what do we care about anti-fur activists”
“Videos of animals being skinned alive are false but anyway no one believes in them and furs are sold all the same!”
These were the long-held beliefs at the beginning of my career 10 years ago.
Peta and the other associations benefitted from this situation, creating a community that believes strongly in FALSE videos and news!
It went from bad to worse when then the IFF started to promote fur, but without understanding what fashion brands needed.
And the bad just kept coming. The IFF basically only paid attention to China where laws are not respected by many. To be perfectly honest, well, even many auctions gave more importance to the Chinese market asking their farmers to produce and offering types of skins favoured mainly by that market and stopping producing and offering types that were more suitable for the European market like the classic mink typology. (China is the auction’s most important client in terms of numbers but not quality and will not be in the long term – European and NY brands dictate fashion trends and certainly not China. China copies European trends. Pleasing the Chinese market means losing the European one. The European brands I work with are in fact looking for types of mink that no longer exist. There are also many brands that have transformed for the Chinese market but have lost first their identity, then their credibility and finally their clients, with the result that they are on the brink of failure and now are busier looking for investors and reviewing their business model than anything else.
Today the IFF and some of the auctions have finally understood!
Given the new sporadic attention of fashion brands in wanting to know more and more about the sustainability of fur sector I wrote this post.
Is fur sustainable? Our fur and sustainability update starts now
This article is useful to all those responsible for the development of fur collections of fashion brands, journalists who are doing research, industry enthusiasts, ecologists, biologists, students and future fur insiders.
In this guide you will find all the most important information about the auctions of leather, links with post-depth analysis on sustainability, traceability, types of fur and much more.
I deepened the various topics by putting links behind phrases and words to click on them or read them
I have tried to make this post as flowing and synthetic as possible but I could write a book on furs ( in fact I am ) especially at the moment when there are a lot of changes – for any questions do not hesitate to contact me and I will be happy to answer you.
Fur skins for fur products
Fur skins can be distinguished as skins of wild origin or from farming.
Fur skins from the wild which have been hunted are: beaver, raccoon, muskrat, sable, coyote, red fox, lyncx, cat lynx, marten, otter, wolf, wolverine and black bear.
Skins from farmed animals are: mink, fox, chincilla, swakara and rabbit.
I wrote a guide about the the fur skins grading system – if you are buying skins from auctions or suppliers my guide will support you in better understanding what you are buying.
The sustainability of skins coming from farming: there is some news!
It’s important to underline that farmers respect their animals. They are proud of their work and the high standards of care that they meet.
I have visited many farms.
Some incredibly innovative where it was clear that the animal was happy, others less and still more where expert scientists do tests on the well-being of the animals. I think that only the farmers that really respect the rules and invest in innovation and research for the well-being of the animal can be proud! Because it is not always the case.
Is it a scandal? I don’t know.
No rule in the world is ever completely respected.
It is illegal to kill people or traffic them.
But some do.
It is forbidden to abuse children but people still do it.
It is forbidden not to pay tax but many don’t… Even in our sector some don’t completely respect the rules.
You, reading the post, do you respect all rules?
Saying that, given the new rules, individuals who don’t respect them will have no place in the fur industry.
The rules are changing!
Changing because in order to sell their collections (European) fashion brands need transparency on the skins they buy, documents that certify the origin, the well-being of the animal, how it is raised, what it eats, the famous traceability.
What happened in the food world is now happening in the fur sector!
In 2020 buying fur will be like buying a box of fresh eggs: you will discover when, how, from where and much more!
A new inspection of all mink and fox farms is in progress. There are more than 5000 farms in the world, including 3500 in Europe that will be certified with a brand WELFUR, an EU certification. For farmers outside Europe there will be certifications similar to WELFUR but that will follow the regimes of every single state.
WELFUR is part of the FURMARK project.
The most important thing to know is: Saga Furs is a pioneer for traceability and sustainability. Saga Furs is not the biggest auction of the fur sector but it has always been closest to fashion brands and their needs. For several years the Finnish auction has been doing tests with its mink and fox farmers to ensure that in the near future the final client who buys a fur will be able to know its origin.
Today if you buy a fur coat or a fur bag from a fashion brand you will find at the most just the type of hair and not the origin.
In a few days thanks to the Saga Certification scheme (STS) and RFID Technology always from Saga Furs if you buy a fur you will be able to get back not just to the type of skin but also to the farmer and you will probably be able to get more information also on the parentage of mink or fox in a much simpler and more innovative way, accessible to everyone.
This will allow consumers at the point of purchase to download and trace the fur through the sourcing chain. Complete traceability is important to guarantee quality and the logical next step in transparency of clients from the farms to the fashion houses.
You will be asking yourselves how is it possible to do all this? I must admit that I know about it but I am not authorized to talk about it even though I believe that access to information is a right I think that this type of change should come out at the right time. (Key word: pure technology)
- Furmark is the programme of certification and traceability that regards sustainability, the well-being of animals and the environmental impact of fur tanning and dyeing processes. It includes WELFUR and Saga Certification scheme (STS): in 2019 the European Auctions will be able to sell only furs coming from certified farms with the brand WelFur.
- WELFUR was created by independent scientists from seven European universities.
Moreover it is in line with the certification rules defined by the ISEAL credibility principles: sustainability, improvement, relevance, rigour, engagement, impartiality, transparency, accessibility, truthfulness, efficiency.
FURMARK also includes the new rules on mink farming in North America, checks on skins of wild origin and a system of global certification on tanneries and dyeing processes. After 2020 they will also incorporate rules that will regulate sable farms in Russia, a programme on Karakul in Namibia and a draft on the guidelines for the standards to follow for Afghan Karakul farming.
Speaking of tanneries, as you know they tan skins to transform from the raw to the dressed state. Without tanning the skins they cannot be worked by cutters, machinists, furriers, designers, tailors etc. Tanning is essential to the fur industry.
Tanning is an art!
It takes more than 50 stages to transform a raw fur skin into a tanned skin and many of these are manual.
Tanneries not only make the skin soft, clean, and workable but they also do laser prints and the famous colourings. In Europe this process is carried out in Italy where we are leaders, as well as in Greece, German, Lithuania and Denmark.
European tanners have to abide by the European Union regulation REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals)
The regulation is a bit “old” and doesn’t satisfy the fashion operators in the modern market!
Tests are being done to move on Reach and try Green Dressing, organic vegetable tanning. Saga Fur has been working on it since 2011 with an German tannery. The project is still in progress.
I have written a post on tanning where I describe which the least harmful tannings are, admitting that us Italians are the best in the world precisely because of the low environmental impact compared to foreign tanneries. I suggest you read it because most people think that all types of chrome are harmful.
Which ones are and which aren’t? What chrome do we use for tanning? Is chrome-free tanning maybe more dangerous? All the answers are in this post! It will make you think.
Basically: if the fashion market wants all the documents that certify sustainability and traceability they will come!
The fur sector promises to become transparent. To prove sustainability.
This will be a big change: it will involve the whole system.
What will happen to the farmers? Some will close, some will conform, others will have to produce more certified skins to satisfy the market, for several years the auctions may sell less fur skins given that they will only be able to sell certified fur skins, tanneries will also have to conform and be able to use or not use some chemical substances and respect all the new laws, fashion brands and final clients will change their minds about our sector that may be reconsidered as eco-friendly and get the respect it deserves.
Yes! Even animal rights associations like PETA and Greenpeace will go through some changes.
Do you think anti-fur associations will still be able to attack our sector because animals born in captivity but in the best way die without suffering to produce furs?
I think (and hope) these associations will focus on other more serious animal related subjects.
Obviously they will earn less given that no one will invest in these associations if no animals are mistreated to produce furs. I strongly hope that these associations that until now have shown themselves to be very violent will also fight for human rights and against the pollution that the fashion world, the second most polluting sector in the world after petrol, is creating.
Let’s not tarnish everyone with the same brush.
It’s not the whole fashion world.
There are brands, many of them very big ones, that respect the environment but unfortunately they are few and they will have to rethink their models because people are becoming more and more aware thanks to Internet.
The era of consumerism, the desire to buy buy buy whether we need it or not, will end. (Bye bye America, thanks for giving us this shit).
To understand what I am talking about watch this documentary ‘The True Cost’, and then ask yourselves why these anti-fur associations, so in favour of the environment and animals, are more interested in attacking the fur sector and not Fast Fashion that, with great interest, keeps Bangladesh or other countries slaves, where people are paid 2 dollars a day to produce non-biodegradable clothes for brands like Levi’s, Zara, Mango, H&M that are then sent back to poor countries when “we don’t like them any more”.
I think that fast fashion giants and others give “gifts” to the associations and governments of these countries to keep the machine of destruction of our dear planet Earth going.
The Netflix documentary didn’t surprise me at all, I knew these things, in fact I will add more to my blog in my next posts.
What shocked me was that brands like Stella McCartney promote their collections as DIFFERENTLY ETHICAL when they are just as polluting as other brands. I will show to you in one of my next posts. Stella uses fake fur, make with acrylic. These are not disposable, and to be produced they kill PEOPLE, animals and the environment.
Is her collection really eco-friendly? She is having you on.
When I write that the clothes are polluting that means that they are made with the blood of people who die every second, every day or have malformations, very serious illnesses but this is not told, in fact it is hidden.
If I were one of these anti-fur associations I would focus on the destructive environmental impact these brands are causing and on human and civil rights that these people, nicknamed “fashion slaves” don’t have.
Which are more important human rights or those of animals bred for fur?
Is it important to save the ecosystem or attack, with false videos that allow them to earn a quick buck, the fur world that is much more ethical than many other sectors?
Who is really guilty?
I haven’t bought from Zara for years, I buy as little as possible because I don’t feel the need to console myself with products I don’t really need and above all that derive from people, NOT ANIMALS, I repeat people, that are suffering because of their mistreatment. For years I have been helping brands to use furs sustainably.
I must precise that animals are NEVER skinned alive. This – I have repeated it many times in my posts – is fake news, fake videos made on purpose by the associations against fur to influence you to invest in associations that have enjoyed the press silence of the IFF for many years. Fur turned a blind eye while it could: WRONGLY. Peta, Greenpeace etc… walked all over them and continue to work in a dishonest way creating violent and highly sensitizing contents. It’s easy to influence someone’s choice of using a real or fake fur showing a video where an animal is hit and skinned alive without dignity on an inexistent or abandoned farm… even I would immediately believe a traumatizing video.
Think about it for a minute!
Not everyone respects the rules but not respecting them doesn’t mean skinning animals alive! It could also just be that the farmers don’t give the animals food with the required percentage of protein or vitamins or other less serious and violent aspects.
Violence has no place in the world of farming animal furs.
The skin of an animal that has been skinned alive can’t be used by the designers neither is it accepted at auction, it has never happened, because the skin would have no value.
The health of the animal is essential for the quality of the skins: the better the animal is treated the more beautiful his fur will be.
Farming an animal for fur, as with any other industry, is regulated by national agricultural and environmental laws, EU directives as well as professional codes of conduct and specific guidelines. Framed selectively for many generations, animals like mink, fox, Finnish / Asian raccoon and chinchilla have adapted to life in captivity, from a scientific point of view they are absolutely tamed.
For their aspect, character and behaviour they can in no way be compared with their wild cousins.
I was the first:
- to make a video on a mink farm with a scientist who studies animal well-being (I was very young please excuse my inexperience)
- I interviewed Tage Pedersen, President of all Danish farmers and of Kopenhagen Fur Chairman of the Board, that showed me what minks eat, Danish farms and how skinning takes place
- to interviewed Julie from Unicorn Farms so that you can make up your own mind
Who knows why my videos are completely different, very far from those you can find on Youtube, created by delinquents.
Please read the posts that I have linked they are very useful – I will go deeper into the subject of FURMARK very soon.
Regarding the choice of using a real fur or fake / ecological. In these two posts I will explain the pros and cons of that FAKE then evaluate whether you damage the ecosystem more by wearing a real fur or a fake.
The second post has already been linked before but if you have not read it is worth doing so. You will find evidence and research that no one had ever written before on the web. As for example that the expert in ecology, biologist etc …
CEO of Daks argues that the material he found is environmentally friendly when it turns out to be synthetic.
Important consideration on the sustainability also of wild or hunted skins.
“The lifestyle of hunters is a perfect example of sustainable use of natural and renewable resources: a fundamental conservation principal shared also by the main organizations dedicated to protecting the environment, like the WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature), World Conservation Union and the UNEP, United Nations Environment Programme.
In this post I make a very practical example of why it is important to hunt seals – if seal hunting didn’t exist the Eskimos would die, along with the fish of Greenland, the ecosystem would be seriously damaged. Here is the post.
Skins deriving from hunting wild species make 15-20% of global fur trade. This trade, regulated by laws and international agreements, absolutely does not represent a threat for endangered species. In particular, the fur sector has always supported and financed research, formalized also by an international agreement, on methods of capturing that conform to the ever-rising standards of animal well-being.
In 1997 The European Commission, Canada and the Russian Federation signed an agreement on international laws relating to methods of capture with traps without cruelty (Agreement On International Humane Trapping Standards –AIHTS) and a parallel commitment taken by the USA over the same year. All signatories were thereby obliged to forbid the use of uncertified traps in accordance with the high standards established by the agreement.
FURMARK also foresees the traceability and certification of all skins coming from the wild.
The Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) instead regulates trading of animals at effective or only potential, risk while The International Union for Conservation of Nature (UCN) carefully monitors natural resources to guarantee an ecologically sustainable use.”
This is not news it is a label that it not valid anymore and no longer exists!
The part dedicated to the fur and sustainability ends here, a new post with further information is coming soon.
If you’ve got this far I will tell you a secret that only a few know.
Maybe just the Christian Church and who studies Christianity.
Do you know who the first furrier in the world was?
Who dressed Adam and Eve.
They weren’t covered just with a fig leaf.
But rather with a Karakul fur.
It’s written in the sacred texts.
Fur really is the oldest profession in the world.
but let me end this post with this the following quetsion:
Is Fur Sustainable?
What do you think?
Again: is fur sustainable? Now that you know that fur is natural, biodegradable and organic. This immediately makes it an environmentally friendly option. Wild-sourced fur is abundant and renewable. Farm-raised furs play an integral role in nourishing other animals, and the environment.
I hope my post has been useful to have a general idea on fur and sustainability.