GUEST POST: Alannah Hill uses fur trim in her clothes. So do many other designers.

Some people see no difference between wearing leather and wearing fur. I am not one of those people. My logic goes like this: leather is a wearable by-product of animals who are slaughtered for food. Since it is highly unlikely that the world will cease eating beef any time soon, there will always be leather available. Fur, however, is a different beast entirely. It is not the by-product of anything other than the fashion industry’s desire to sell clothes. To me, this doesn’t sit comfortably.

How about you?

I don’t care if rabbits or possums or even kangaroos are considered vermin by some. I don’t care. I still do not wish to wear the fur of animals that are killed for no other reason than to make clothes – often in the most gruesome, torturous and unregulated ways imagineable.

A couple of years ago, I learned that many garments imported from China with fur trim (which you ASSUME is fake) are actually made with dog fur. This horrified me and I have carefully checked the labels of everything I’ve bought since to make sure all trim is synthetic. Ugh.

There has been much debate recently over Alannah Hill’s use of fur in her range and MM regular Sharpest Pencil writes….

Australian fashion designer Alannah Hill’s website features a lot of rabbits – both of the chocolate and the furry variety.  However, it was not the use of rabbits on her whimsical website, but rather the use of rabbit fur in her clothing, that caught the attention of animal activists.In 2005 Hill denied using fur in her designs but in her latest range she has used rabbit fur as a trim on five or six pieces (mostly cardigans and coats).  She seemed to believe that using the fur as a trim justified the use of the gruesomely extracted fur of these defenceless animals. 

China, where much of Hill’s fur is believed to originate, has no laws to protect animals and is now the world’s leading fur exporter. Video footage from PETA’s undercover investigation (you can see it here) shows workers who slam foxes and raccoon dogs to the ground before skinning the animals. After they are skinned, some of the animals are shown panting and blinking before their carcasses are thrown onto a furnace. Millions of cats and dogs in China are strangled or bled to death for their fur, which is often mislabelled before it is exported, leading consumers to believe that it comes from other species.

No-one can deny that killing animals for use in fashion is prevalent and widespread.  Most of us own leather shoes, bags and belts and leather jackets are a flourishing fashion trend that never seems to date.  However, it is the inhumane treatment of animals and their gruesome execution that lies at the heart of the fur trade and this is what causes anger and disgust in so many people.

The use of rabbit fur in Hill’s latest ranged prompted PETA (People for
the Ethical Treatment of Animals) to organise protests outside her
Chapel Street store in Melbourne.

Hill was also the recipient of
thousands of angry emails and numerous death threats.  According to The
Age newspaper on 17 August 2009 “Alannah’s nerves are so frayed that
she has given in and will stop using fur, telling Diary: ”After 4500
intimidating and abusive emails, the decision not to use rabbit fur AS
A TRIM was made for me by the one that threatened my seven-year-old
son, Edward. They wanted him to burn in hell.” The satanic-cursed
emails forced her to change her email address and she appealed to
Attorney-General Rob Hulls and Chief Commissioner Simon Overland: ”I
believe cyber-bullying needs to be addressed and treated as a criminal
offence. Basically, I was intimidated into consent.”

PETA claim their entire philosophy is based on compassion to all beings
(including Hill) and denied sending death threats.  They have, however
embraced Hill’s decision not to continue using fur in her designs.
Their website lauds Hill’s decision as she joins the ranks of
compassionate designers like Stella McCartney, Calvin Klein, Kenneth
Cole, and Tommy Hilfiger, who have all sworn off fur.

Hill seems to have missed the point that that people were up in arms
because torturing animals to extract a perfect fur is cruel and
inhumane.  Instead she has urged the Attorney General to investigate
the cyber-bullying that she endured.   This whole unfortunate incident
throws a stark light on far the human race has come.  Sure, we are
still using rabbit fur in our pursuit of vanity, but at least we now
have the good sense and compassion to protect our designers from the
threats of cyber bullies.

Do designers and manufacturers deserve to be protected against people who oppose their choice of material or do we protect the animals from becoming fashion statements? How far is too far in our pursuit of fashion?
Let’s keep this discussion to fur and the use of animal skin in fashion.  Sweat shops, child labour and inhumane working conditions are a post for another day ……

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