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Fur is the thick coat of soft hair covering the skin of some animals such as the fox or the beaver. It is used for making garments and as trimming or decoration. Fur has been worn by people in the colder parts of the world for a long time. By the 11th and the 12th century, fur became very fashionable in Western Europe, leading to an increase in the demand. Its prominence as an item of luxury steadily increased across the western world.


Why should I be aware of this?

  • People wear fur for warmth, comfort, timeless style, versatility and durability.
  • Fur manufacturers claim that fur trade is environment friendly as it is government regulated. Detractors point out that it violates animal rights and the process of treating fur is also not eco friendly.

Many warmer, lighter and more durable alternatives exist, both synthetic and natural. Wearable art, with out animal skins or fur are yet another creative, beautiful alternative; including custom made items.

All about fur

Fur has been valued for its comfort and beauty by people all over the world. With a rich ceremonial and fashion history, furs have personalities as varied and unique as the countries and cultures that have nurtured them. Fur is classified on the basis of the animal it is sourced from. The nature, type and quality of fur determine its end use.

Types of fur

  • Beaver
  • Chinchilla
  • Coyote
  • Ermine
  • Fisher
  • Fox
  • Lamb
  • Lynx
  • Marten
  • Mink
  • Muskrat
  • Nutria
  • Opossum
  • Rabbit
  • Raccoon
  • Sable
  • Tanuki

Making a fur garment

  1. First a live animal is trapped or raised in large quantities in small cages.
  2. then the animal, if still alive, maybe skinned alive or electrocuted through the mouth or anus to prevent the fur from being damaged.
  3. the samples of various skins are matched to get skins that are as nearly alike as possible.
  4. The furs are then cut to the proper size and sent to the nailer, who wets the sections, stretches them into the proper shape, and nails them to a board on which the garment pattern is chalked.
  5. After the stretched sections are sewn together, finishers install the buttons, tapes (reinforcing strips of cloth), and linings.
  6. The finished garment is then glazed by wetting and ironing the fur to increase its luster. Glazing from time to time throughout the life of a fur garment is recommended by furriers.

Fur and the environment

The fur industry argues that the fur trade is eco-friendly as

  • It is government regulated. This ensures that endangered species are never used. Unfortunately enforcement of regulations is difficult and often not possible. Poaching is a large industry which includes endangered species.
  • It is a natural fibre.
  • Animals are not better off on fur farms, where they lived solitary, unnatural, confined lives.

There are many who say that apart from violating animal rights, fur is not an eco friendly fibre.

  • Inhuman way of killing --Foxes, raccoons, minks, coyotes, bobcats, lynxes, opossums, nutria, beavers, muskrats, otters and many other fur-bearing animals are killed daily on fur farms by anal and vaginal electrocution and in the wild by drowning, trapping or beating. Such forms of killing ensures that their fur is not damaged and retains its quality.
  • Energy intensive process -- Making fur garments is an energy intensive process.
  • Environmental contaminants --Once it has been peeled off, it must be "tanned" in order to stop it from biodegrading. This completely unnatural process uses caustic chemicals including formaldehyde and chromium. These are serious environmental contaminants. The EPA also claims that wastes from fur processing plants "may cause respiratory problems, and are listed as possible carcinogens.

Companion animals, including those in shelter or sometimes taken from the street (including strays and family pets) are sold to the fur industry. Companion animals, pets, such as cats, dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs are used in the fur industry.

What can I do?

What should I look for when buying a fur piece (new/used)? The pelt should be lustrous, supple and well-matched. Feel the fur for a dense, soft underfur evident to the touch under the glossy guard hairs which should be soft, never bristly. Seams should be sewn tightly. Hems should fall straight. Be sure to try on the garment to see if the weight is comfortable for you. You may be surprised at how lightweight many fur coats actually are. A well-made fur will be well-balanced and will fall evenly and comfortably from your shoulders. There should be a give to the leather side of the fur when horizontal tension is applied.

Recycling fur

  • Recyling Fur not a good choice for the environmentally conscious consumer. As an heirloom it commerates a time when people were unaware of the pain and suffering involved in obtaining fur. The best way to recycle vintage fur is to give it to local animal shelters, local humane society, or wildlife sanctuaries to be used for bedding of orphaned infant animals.


  • Approximately 30 million animals are raised in cages and killed worldwide for fur every year.
  • Minks are the animals most commonly raised on fur farms, but foxes, chinchillas, rabbits, dogs and other animals are
  • In the wild, a male mink has a range of approximately 2,500 acres. A female has a range of 40 acres. On a fur farm, a mink is typically confined in a cage measuring 12 inches by 18 inches.
  • Eighty-five percent of the fur industry‚Äôs skins come from animals living captive on fur factory farms.


  • China's northern fur farms grow despite furor
  • Animal Rights Concerns
  • Fur and environment
  • The cruelty of fur farms
  • About fur: Fur Information Council Of America
  • Inside the Fur Industry: Animal Factories
  • Medieval Scandinavia: From Conversion to Reformation, Circa 800-1500
  • Fur