Fur has been traded amongst civilizations for centuries as a commodity, warm clothing and to signal status and fashion as well. Many may be already familiar with issues surrounding the global fur trade as the material has come under increasing scrutiny.
Fur has been declining in demand, price and more recently, supply. A diligent shopper frequenting storefronts may have noticed increased lines of faux fur or a lack of fur products completely. In fact, since 2013 the amount of mink fur has decreased on the market as well as the price: a typical mink pelt sold for over $90 in 2013 and just $30 in 2019. From an economist’s perspective, this adjustment is indicative of a shift in markets and consumer demand. In short, consumers want less fur.
This supports the decreasing trend in demand observed in fur since the 1950s (except for a period from 2000-2013). A Danish cooperative that supplies 40% of the global market share in mink has plans to wind operations down over the next 2-3 years. This comes after a country-wide culling of the animals in response to a new strain of coronavirus found amongst mink populations.
As an enduring market, fur is wobbling. The necessity for fur for its warmth may be filled through other materials and clothing items while further social attitudes towards the practice could phase it out of style.
However, this space opens a new debate over the sustainability of fur vs. faux fur. Real fur does not negatively affect the environment due to its inherently organic production (and biodegradability), while faux fur is potentially harming to the environment during its production and use phase on top of its inability to biodegrade. However, new technologies such as 3-D printing and innovation in faux fur has the potential to further unlock new opportunities.
How should the fashion industry move forward in fur? Is there common ground between ethics and sustainability?
Bertlin, Nathalie. “The Future Of Fur In Fashion – A Qualitative Study On The Future Of Fur In The Fashion Industry, And A Comparison Of Real Fur And Fake Fur Regarding Ethics And The Environment”. Beauty And Cosmetics, Vaasa, 2020.
Ramchandani M., Coste-Maniere I. (2017) To Fur or not to Fur: Sustainable Production and Consumption Within Animal-Based Luxury and Fashion Products. In: Muthu S. (eds) Textiles and Clothing Sustainability. Textile Science and Clothing Technology. Springer, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-10-2131-2_2
Wong T.C.C., Ng R., Cai L.M. (2018) Sustainability in the Fur Industry. In: Lo C., Ha-Brookshire J. (eds) Sustainability in Luxury Fashion Business. Springer Series in Fashion Business. Springer, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-10-8878-0_8