Fur is back. It’s been around in East End vintage boutiques for a while now while designer labels like Gucci and Fendi never stopped producing it. Posh furriers in Knightsbridge and Mayfair are also doing a roaring trade, and it can even be found sneaking its way onto the high street.
More and more, you can see items made of real creatures – often rabbit – around these days. Earmuffs, trims on hooded coats and, quite strangely, as the bobble on quite a lot of high-end knitted bobble hats. Steadily, and stealthily, it’s becoming more normal to see real animal hide in the shops. How weird.
I for one don’t really like it – it seems unnecessary and also it's kind of bad taste isn’t it? It actually seems to be more bad taste when it’s subtle. Like a full-on Pat Butcher-esque, in your face, faux fur leopard coat is actually quite cool because it’s not pretending to blend into anything, whereas an expensive puffa jacket with a discreet real fur trim is kind of repulsive.
But wait a second, I myself own a fully furry real fur jacket. How, in the name of BEJESUS did I end up with that? I don’t know. I’ve been a vegetarian for more than 20 years, although I do wear leather.
It was purchased one winter, 2010 since you ask. I didn’t have a coat and it wouldn’t stop snowing and being freezing outside so I set off to find one for a double figure budget and I couldn’t come up with anything. Being skint is rubbish.
All I wanted was either a navy wool single breasted number with a funnel neck OR a grey Prince of Wales check overcoat with a sort of fashionably mannish thing going on, and there was nothing – NOTHING under a hundred pounds, in fact, very little under £200.
I popped into Rockit and found a snuggly, soft and extremely cosy bomber-style yellowy Seventies fur jacket – the sort of thing that Agnetha from ABBA might have worn to do her shopping on a Saturday in Sweden – in just my size. Hurrah!
It came in at a credit-crunch-budget-busting £60 and, aware of the giant snowflakes falling just outside the shop window, I decided not to bother internally debating the ethics of buying the thing and just dashed to the till, ruddy-cheeked from a combination of the hot shop/cold exterior and no small amount of adrenaline from what I was about to do.
Oh dear. I went back to the office and gingerly showed some of my colleagues the rug. ‘WHAT have you done?’ was the unanimous response. I was getting the first guilty tingles about it. "When my mum sees this she’s not going to cook me any more vegetarian meals" I admitted, quaveringly. "And quite right too" snapped the slightly scary boss lady that I sat next to.
Anyway. I wore it every day through those bleak, long, freezing, dark months. I justified it to myself thus – yes, fur is wrong, but it’s vintage fur and all second hand clothes and textile recycling is ethical and sustainable.
But it never worked entirely and as well as my conscience giving me small, passive aggressive nibs of grief about it, whenever I wore it I would experience a mysterious twitching, itching feeling on the tip of my nose. Some kind of mild allergy? OR MAYBE the ghosts of the bunnies who died to make my coat haunting me?
I couldn’t be totally sure it wasn’t the latter. I don’t really wear the coat any more, half because it’s not been that cold recently, and also it’s much too warm to wear for cycling in.
But mainly, I’ve thought about what it represents. If new coats are being made, a whole new generation of bunnies, otters and minks being squashed for the sake of fashion simply because people like me buying second hand furs has made it lucrative again, well, that’s not what I intended at all.
Is Naomi a big ol' hypocrite or are you equally inconsistent when it comes to balancing principles and desires? Tell us!