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Is wearing vintage fur ok? Shame on Beyond Retro?

Fur is such an emotive issue, and always received great press attention. However, up until this week I have never really heard a campaign against the wearing of vintage fur.

Personally, I don't wear any fur. I do however wear leather, but that is another discussion!

I do know many women (particulary from the vintage scene) who do wear vintage fur. The argument tends to be that the animal is a long time dead, and we may as well 'enjoy' the beauty of the object, rather than throwing it away.

An interesting tweet on the subject discussed inheritanting a fur, and wanting to wear it, but never being willing to actually buy a fur (vintage or not). People seem to like the idea of upcycling, recycling, and wearing vintage fur/animal products (tortoise shell glasses, snakeskin bag), but no one wanted to agree to buying new fur.

There was also a tweet about wanting to wear vintage fur but being fearful of public reaction. It may be acceptable to wear a 1940s fox head to a Vintage themed ball, but would you be able to wear down the high street?

The Coalition to Abolish the Fur Trade is publicising a campaign against the vintage shop chain Beyond Retro. I have borrowed the photo from their blog entry:

There is also an online petition here. Their premise is that anyone wearing any fur makes the wearing of fur more acceptable.

They want to eradicate the connection between glamour and fur, and the wearing of fur as a glamorous object allows people to justify fur.

They say that all fur will have involved an animal suffering terribly, most probably in a trap, perhaps chewing its leg off. They want all Beyond Retro shops to ban all fur products.


There is a short video too:


What do you think? Do you wear fur? Why do you wear it? Does vintage fur encourage all fur trade? Do you think some people buy new fur but claim it is vintage? Can you image any shops/markets claiming it was vintage just to be able to sell it? Should we be making fur glamorous?

Fur has been seen on more recent catwalks, and definitely is becoming more socially acceptable than before. Do shops like Beyond Retro encourage fur as a viable clothing choice?

I'd love to hear your views!

Thank you to the guys at Rock N Rolio for letting me know about the protesters they saw at Beyond Retro. If you are looking for great retro music and a relaxed atmosphere (no snobbery there!) check out their Chrsitmas special.

Reader Comments (31)

If an animal has been dead since the 40s, they want me to throw the fur away? What exactly does that prove?

They cannot prove how the animal that was used to make a vintage fur coat was killed, and I personally feel that to just dispose of it would be a complete waste of the animals life.

Do they protest at the people who live in Iceland wearing fur? It's not glamorous, it's functional. I have no doubt that some of the protestors will eat meat & wear leather, and isn't that just the same? Filling peoples heads with unsubstantiated claims is irresponsible and stupid.

I love vintage fur, however, I do not like new furs, for many reasons.

Face it, a nice 1940s fur is warm, and looks good, that isn't supporting the fur trade, it's appreciating vintage fashion.

November 29 | Unregistered CommenterKatie

I wear it. And know it is ok for a whole range of reasons... In my blog I also answer the accusation that it makes real fur more glamorous.

There is so much else that we need to think about and fight to protect. This sort of protest, against a firm selling vintage clothes, and therefore doing more than their bit for the environment (animals) is not constructive or week thought through.

(@forever_vintage on Twitter)

Read this:


November 29 | Unregistered CommenterHannah Belle Amie

Er, well thought through. Obviously

November 29 | Unregistered CommenterHannah Belle Amie

I don't really have a strong opinion about the fur trade, but I think if you're going to wear fur then you should at least admit that wearing vintage fur is really no different to wearing a fur that was made two weeks ago. Just because that animal was killed (more often than not in an inhumane way) 40 years ago, doesn't mean it makes no difference now.

November 29 | Unregistered CommenterJess

I would never even buy vintage fur. The only reason I would wear it is because my mother owns a fur that is vintage (passed down) and I would never let this leave my family, and when a time comes that I get it, then I will wear it. (probably in the privacy of my own home, as i would never want it to get ruined due to public reaction) but i would have no qualms what so ever about owning. None at all. But to reiterate, i would never buy a vintage fur. Just this one, because it's special. The amount of joy it used to give me as a child when i would crawl into my mothers wardrobe and cuddle up next to it, it would be sacrilegious now, to throw it away. final thought... i do hope she bequeaths this to me rather than my sister....

November 29 | Unregistered CommenterCarrie

@katie - I think if you are happy to compare wearing vintage fur to people wearing leather and eating meat, then you need to concede that wearing new fur is ok too. Otherwise the argument doesn't make sense.

@Hannah Belle Amie - do you want to send the link in a different format so I can edit your post?

November 29 | Registered CommenterReeRee Rockette

I think that animal rights groups like PETA focussing on fur has created a lot of people who feel really strongly about it but have no idea why when they still eat meat and wear leather.

I often wonder how many people who get so worked up about fur wear clothes from low cost retailers, possibly involving child labour in it's production, or will wear silk which involved boiling moths alive.

I wrote a post about this on my blog and someone came on and called me all kind of awful things, thus kind of proving my point.

I don't think animal cruelty is acceptable, but I don't see how not wearing a vintage fur is going to help, and I don't see how it makes it more acceptable, any more than faux fur would.

November 29 | Unregistered CommenterRetro Chick

@Retro Chick - do you have a link to your blog post?

November 29 | Registered CommenterReeRee Rockette

I wasn't liking it to wearing leather & eating meat, I was pointing out the hypocrisy of certain people.

November 29 | Unregistered CommenterKatie

But the point is I don't think it is necessarily hypocritical....if it was then surely you'd have to say that if a person eats meat they have to think fur is ok.

November 29 | Registered CommenterReeRee Rockette

I would never buy fur, vintage or otherwise, as I could never feel "glamorous" draped in the skin of an animal that had been cruelly butchered. I think age is irrelevant when considering how much the animal would have suffered for the piece to be made. If you don't agree with buying new fur, why should change your principles to buy vintage fur? Pain and suffering are the same, whichever era they were caused in.
I don't wear leather, either, whether new or vintage, and the same goes for tortoiseshell (I have two torties, and can't bear the thought of them stripped of their shells for "fashion"), snakeskin, and anything else that an animal has died for. Nothing an animal has suffered for could ever make me feel good. To me, those who wear animal skins are not better than the ones who trap, kill and strip the animals bodies.

November 29 | Unregistered CommenterMel

The fact is a vintage fur is already dead. It has been dead a long time. I can still think the fur trade is bad, but think that vintage fur is ok. Or is that wrong? (apparently so). Some people are seeming to miss my view on this. If something has been dead for so long, there is nothing I can do about the pain or suffering that the animals may or may not have gone through, though I would like to point out that views about the fur trade in the 40s may or may not be correct, and to state them as fact without providing evidence that was the case across the board is wrong.

When I was talking about the hypocrisy of people, I mean directly the protestors. Farming cows for leather is as bad as farming cute little bunny wunnies for a fur coat, but they aren't likely to nip down to the local farm and wave placards.

And there I think I've hit the nail on the head, squirrels are cute (but vermin), rabbits are cute (and taste jolly nice) but noone gives a hoot if a cow is killed to make a pair of shoes or a pig is killed to make bacon sandwiches.

November 29 | Unregistered CommenterKatie

We're not all hypocrites - I don't eat or wear animals. Cruelty is cruelty, no matter how warm or tasty the end product might be.

November 29 | Unregistered CommenterMel

It's all very well saying the animal's already dead and has been for decades, but to me that's like putting meat in front of a vegetarian and saying, "it's ok, it's already dead so if you don't eat it it'll only go to waste".

If you have an ethical stance on fur now in 2010, why would your stance be different for a fur made in the 40's? Surely it makes no difference when the fur was made, it still resulted in the same consequences for the animal. As I said in my first post, I don't really have a strong opinion either way, but I think that people who are for vintage and against new fur are contradicting themselves.

November 29 | Unregistered CommenterJess

Wearing vintage fur is different to wearing new fur because the wearing of it doesn't fund cruelty to animals. In fact, it stops perfectly wearable items rotting in landfill, taking up space and releasing methane, which contributes to climate change.
Also some, like me, wear vintage not just because of the way it looks, but as an ethical choice. It does not fund child labour, saves land space, and has a whole load of other environmental benefits which people should consider when buying clothes. For instance, producing a man's cotton t-shirt will on average produce more than 5kg worth of CO2. In the end, retailers and those in the fashion industry who do not sell vintage, are doing far more harm to the environment, and therefore animals, than anyone like Beyond Retro.

November 29 | Unregistered CommenterHannah Belle Amie

I would only wear coney/rabbit as I eat rabbit. I love the way fur looks but I think that vintage being particularly glamorous does encourage the view of fur as a beautiful accoutrement whenever it died. This 'it died ages ago so it doesn't matter' argument seems in fact vaguely ridiculous to me.

However this is a personal choice and opinion and I have no intention of having a go at anyone who does wear fur, although I can say why I don't. Nor do I think this gives miss Foie gras here the moral high ground. I must add that I would be very annoyed to have demonstrators like those Peta types telling me what to wear, look at the state of 'em! xx

November 29 | Unregistered CommenterMinna

It's a tough one. In terms of avoiding wearing new fur and actively protesting against it one is hopefully discouraging production. I'm not convinced that boycotting vintage fur would have the same effect on the new fur trade. I tend to think that it would be a real waste of an amazing creation to simply bin all vintage fur, the challenge for me is at what "age" would a fur be deemed vintage. I'd like to know what the view on fake fur would be? There are some amazing alternatives out there that are both glamorous and ethical.

November 29 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine

I wear real fur. Vintage for budget reasons, but I wouldn't say no to new fur. I also wear leather, eat meat, and use other animal producst in my everyday life. The claim that EVERY piece of fur clothing involved an animal suffereing terribly is quite simply a lie - for the most part, animals used for fur, the same as animals used for meat, are bred on farms. Naturally I believe in ethical farming and I would never wear any animal that was an endangered species. But I am completely at a loss as to how people think wearing a farmed rabbit fur coat is any different to wearing farmed sheepskin on your feet. I'd also like to say that I feel the cold terribly due to bad circulation, and nothing else I own keeps me as warm as my rabbit fur coat. I do think there is a lot of hypocrisy going around on this issue, and an astounding amount of misinformation and emotional propaganda circulated by the anti-fur lobbyists.

Great blog post! I have often contemplated blogging about it myself, however I have never had anything happen to me to spur the entry! If I do have an event that spurs myself to blog, I will certainly link to you and your and your comments' opinions. But for the time being, I'm glad to put in my two cents here!

Yes, I wear fur, but only vintage fur. However, I do not purchase something simply because it's fur. I will purchase it because I like the look and cut and whatnot of a garment, and if it happens to be fur, I shrug and say that I am not supporting the current industry and, yes, I use the argument that the animal is long since dead and would be dead right now anyhow, but I will also admit that I don't think that is a very good argument. But to answer your question to why I wear it, I wear it because it is a part of a cuter piece, for example the collar on a coat. I do not think that vintage fur encourages all fur trade. There is a lot of unworn vintage fur out there, and it is very easy to get, so I feel that if the average person really wants a fur, they may opt vintage before new. As for the super rich, they will do whatever they want regardless. I have never personally come in contact with someone and asked them if their fur is vintage or not, usually because I can tell or I find it insulting to ask, so I don't. However, I would not be surprised if someone did make that claim. I don't think we should make fur more glamorous. I think that it is glamorous enough already. Mink stoles evoke image of women in satin with long gloves stepping out of taxis and into a theatre for an opera, and if that isn't glamorous, then I don't know what is. So, if people can't already get it in their heads that fur can be glamorous, then they just don't know good fashion.

Here in the states, there is a movement to return fur to their "original owners", that being the animals. Certain animal rehabilitation places think that fur is the ideal bedding for animals in need of assistance, since it is suppose to remind the animal of the warmth and security of when they were young. Just as if when you're sick, and even though you may be 22, your teddy bear makes you feel better. I forget the name of the movement or the group putting it on through. I just see posters for them when at Buffalo Exchange.

November 29 | Unregistered CommenterJaney

So, if something is already in existence then it is ethical to use it?
Some people made nice lampshades out of human skins and these are still in existence. By some arguments it would be tasteful to have these in my home?
I have seen some old brochures from the 1920s advertising child brothels. They have nice art deco borders on them. Are these fine to frame and use on a daily basis?

Some argue the environmental reason for not discarding old furs. I hope these same people didn't get their fur placed in a plastic shopping bag as they purchased it. And I hope they are as scrupulous in the environmental causes of reducing and recycling at all other times.
Old furs don't have to go on to landfills. Some homeless charities accept them and, as written here, some animal charities may accept them for bedding.
(Producing new fur is not environmentally sound either eg In Finland, home of 65% of the worlds fox farms, fur animal wastes have come to equal the uncleaned sewage of a million people)

No, I don't believe that anti-fur people do wear clothes made in sweat shops. You will find the majority of these people stretch their ethics to cover many areas of life, including human rights. The word hypocrisy is used a few times here. I can tell you that the majority of the protesters at Beyond Retro do not wear leather, silk, wool, eat meat etc so cannot be accused of this.

Wearing fur, whether old or new is condoning fur. No-one knows if it is old or new unless they ask you and that is unlikely to happen. If you look nice, which is the object of wearing the furs, then you are glamourising fur. Glamourising fur makes the current fur industry thrive. A thriving fur industry means keeping animals in hideous conditions today and in the future and causing them to suffer tortuous deaths.
Also, if the vintage fur industry is making money then companies will simply sell newly killed furs and mark them as vintage. There is some proof that this is already happening.

Heres the link to the piece I wrote about fur


I hadn't really thought about the idea of farmed fur at the time, I guess rabbit fur could easily be a by product of the meat industry. I don't think the fur trade is inherently any more cruel than anything else. I wonder why there's no Market for certified ethically produced fur?

Anyway, as you can see from comments here and on my post there are lots of people who are very extreme in their ethical choices. However there are an awful lot of people who just feel very strongly about fur but don't really know why.

I'd also point out that no one ever got red paint chucked at them for wearing leather, pearls or non organic cotton. Why is it fur that provokes that response?

November 29 | Unregistered CommenterRetro Chick

Apparently Uggs are the height of sophistication. Bugger,now I know what I'm doing wrong.

November 30 | Unregistered CommenterKatie

by not disposing of a vintage fur you are a walking billboard for fur, regardless.

Fur is NOT a personal choice, whenever a personal choice involves a third party or victim it CEASES to be a personal choice.

Killing for CHOICE not survival is morally unjustifiable. You are not a stone age women who would be naked if animal skin wasn't available. Get a grip on your consumerist greed and fashion addiction.

@Katie - no Katie the protesters are abolitionists, they do not consume any animal products, including leather, silk, feathers, honey, dairy, flesh etc there are some very convincing fake leather and sheepskin so the real skin is not needed to look good or keep warm.

even if the non human died in his or her sleep, the vile conditions at factory farms are unacceptable,YOU ARE FORGETTING KATIE HOW THE VICTIM LIVED. and lack of information and denial cannot be used to wear fur with a clear conscious.

and yes there are campaigns against the cruelty in the leather industry, particulary Asian leather, with India being the biggest exporter, ironically. and yes there are also multiple campaigns against other industries of cruelty including meat, protesters are rarely single issue and cover a wide range of issues including human and earth rights.

"Do they protest at the people who live in Iceland wearing fur?"
Ridiculous, Katie I have been to Iceland and everyone is not walking around in fur coats. There are very few communities which don't have access to synthetic alternatives. I would imagine an Oyster card wouldn't stretch to Reykavik...they have their own protesters.


Fur production is banned in the UK because of the exposure of cruelty. There are hours of video footage of fur farms to watch if you naively think these claims are unsubstantiated. an atrocity does not become ethical with the passage of time, following this logic trophies could be worn from Nazi victims as they died 70 years ago.

as for wasting an animals' life and suffering, would you circulate snuff videos and say oh well it would be a complete waste of the victims' life not to distribute the video! VIOLENCE IS SICK, FULL STOP

why support vintage but not new? vintage just means second hand, it could be 5 years old. new fur has also been recovered labelled as vintage, there is simply no way of knowing.

fur is obviously glamourous, why do you think it 's Retro? duh

You've knocked the nail on the head you are supporting vintage FASHION not being functional! and cannot claim ignorance of animal welfare as an excuse.

@dreadful vintage - rabbit is just one of about 15 species which are exploited worldwide for their skins, including domestic cat and dog, so no it is not a by product or co-product of the meat industry. you are forgetting that fur is an industry with the sole objective of making profit, based outside of Europe, without enforced basic welfare laws, so you cannot ease your conscience by saying maybe your fur coat didn't suffer!!! it's a commercial reality.

no the fur does not have to be thrown away, it can be given to an animal sanctuary as bedding, or composted, fur is skin so will eventually rot, so crap environmental excuse

January 25 | Unregistered Commenterg

So wearing fur isn't a personal choice?


Also, I don't consider vintage fur 'retro'. There is a difference between vintage fur & modern fur (and a difference between what is classed as 'vintage' and 'retro'), and I know the difference, I can tell the difference between a genuine 1940s fur & a modern fur. Vintage isn't anything over 5 years old, nor does vintage refer to anything second hand. But that is a totally different topic.

Quoting me & then putting words in my mouth is a lazy way of trying to start an argument with me, by the way.

The fur debate will always be a hot topic, some people like wearing fur, others don't. I don't force my views down other peoples throats, it is MY choice, just as it is other peoples choice to not wear fur, I am not offending anyone by wearing it, any more than a fat lass wearing leggings offends me. Horses for courses.

January 25 | Unregistered CommenterKatie

no katie , because a fat lass wearing leggings does not involve a victim, nobody is harmed by wearing leggings. ie it is not a personal choice to abuse the rights of another person ie inflict suffering on another sentient being. following this logic would mean I can morally justify inflicting pain on someone because that is my personal choice. A choice ceases to be personal when someone else suffers.

the cruelty of fur is not a personal subjective opinion either, just as child abuse is not a personal opinion, it is a fact, OBJECTIVE, just check out under cover footage of fur farms, which you seem to be conveniently avoiding.

40 years old or not it is still the same suffering.

killing for FASHION is not morally justifiable or socially acceptable, wearing fur does not offend people, it simply reminds people of images of intense pain. why not be stylish without wearing skin??? you wouldn't wear clothes made by children who have suffered to make them, so why wear fur?

January 25 | Unregistered Commenterg
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