I carefully consider all the clothing I wear both for my work as a re enactor and in everyday life and make decisions on both based on ethical and environmental research.I wear fur (real or fake)for work or in costumes when I feel it provides a valuable visual aid or imparts accuracy to a costume .
However I care very much about both humans and animals which is why I prefer to wear vintage fur rather than modern fake fur .I would recomend buying vintage furs for both everyday and re enactment use.I would not recomend in any way buying new faux /fake /fun fur items. This does not make me less of an animal lover ,I would never buy eggs or fowl that wasnt free range ,nor do I eat meat or buy new leather goods unless I know they are cruelty free and I dont in any way condone the wearing of modern new fur unless it is sheepskin or rabbit and came from an animal bred in cruelty free conditions for food.
However I am a re enactor and for most eras in our history furs have a relevance and are a valuable visual aid .Often its possible to use fake furs for Tudor or earlier costumes and if I can buy second-hand faux fur for those eras I do.
But I would prefer to recommend that people buy second-hand real fur rather than new fake fur as new faux fur (like new real fur)has a substantial cost to the environment and is also produced in conditions detrimental to human workers and in very many cases fake fur production causes damage to the immediate environment of the factory’s involved in producing them ,harming water supplies and affecting air quality.In addition the countries producing these faux furs often have lamentable human rights records .I also suspect that many of the clothing companies producing faux fur items do not provide a safe working enviroment.For instance there will be many, many fake fur shrugs and scarves in circulation made by Primark a company which has a lamentable record for providing unsafe and unhealthy working conditions and pittance wages.
Using vintage fake or real fur is my prefered alternative as this involves doing no harm to the living either human or animal or their environment .
I don’t have a problem with most vintage fur ,I personally wouldn’t wear Astrakhan or wolf but that’s an emotional rather than moral issue .I have no problem with vintage rabbit fur items or furs resulting from our war-time culls of carnivores.I inherited and wear without hesitation a vintage rabbit fur coat as I know it’s the ideal way to keep warm in a way that has caused no harm to any living human or animal and caused no impact whatsoever on the environment.
All the feathers in the hats above are from pheasants killed and eaten by my friends ,their friends or ourselves ,I belive the use of exotic bird feathers is an unexamined aspect of the modern fashion trade which is often responsible for a great deal of animal misery .
I try whenever possible to source feathers from friends who buy and eat game or collect it from road kill or I am occasionally given parrot and peacock feathers by friends who own exotic birds as pets.I buy vintage ostrich feathers or maribou feathers when at all possible though unfortunately that’s not always possible ,Cruelty free feathers are available but not always in speciality colours
,I do however try to buy directly from developed countries were the ostriches are raised for meat and where a code of practice exists such as Australia
As a side note care should also be taken when buying feather and down duvet and pillows http://www.peta.org/features/down-investigation.aspx)
All vintage clothing is likely to have a dark history and the further back in time ones goes the more likely this is to be the case.While some issues involved in vintage clothing cannot be ignored both for the initial human misery involved but more so for the symbolism involved in wearing them in the present eg the use of original German uniforms (https://hathawaysofhaworth.wordpress.com/2013/03/12/1940s-re-enactment-and-the-hidden-horrors-of-those-smart-german-uniforms/
Most vintage items do not make a modern human rights statement or have the immediate impact of furs yet for the he most part the amount of human degradation or suffering involved in creating all pre 19thc clothing is horrendous. To give one example it’s not unlikely that those pretty early Victorian cotton petticoats or camisols or nightdresses came from cotton produced by slaves and is trimmed with lace made by impoverished lace makers or in dreadful factory conditions ,I still wear vintage cotton items however as the production of much modern cotton or lace or garment made with them is not without a dark side .
I feel we have only two alternatives,we can ignore their past and if they are artifacts use them to educate our selves or others ,if clothing then when possible wear them in place of new clothing or we can burn or bury everything except items that we can be sure were made in a healthy place,by healthy people, in a healthy environment and thus destroy our heritage and plunder our planet while actively perpetuating slavery by wearing brand new items ,as almost no new item comes without having a legacy of either environmental or human suffering somewhere in its pedigree.
For detailed information on which companies have good (or bad ) records ,there are some suprises ,not all the naughty companines are in the bargin basement section of fashion eg Hobbs get zero our of five and Debenhams only get a one out of five ,,both come lower down the workers rights ladder than Primark