By Priscilla Feral, President | Act•ionLine Winter 2010-11

In my view

United States fur designer Dennis Basso, who loves to air-kiss fur-clad customers, told New York Magazine earlier this year that “fur is a big part of fashion.”

While the global economy quaked, New York Magazine wrote that Basso “showed some of the most voluminous broadtail and fox creations we’ve seen from him in seasons…huge fur bags with gigantic fur tails dangling off the ends…”

Then what message is sent by Basso’s new “faux” fur collection for this winter? Basso’s fake fur chinchilla coat and scarf was featured on QVC’s fashion page in November. So were Basso’s faux shearling coats and a suede skirt, along with several jackets, scarves and heard-warmers – all selling for less than $200. Are pricey real-fur items finally relics of a bygone era?

Not exactly, according to Animal People publisher Kim Bartlett, who says faux fur plays a role in keeping fur fashionable.

Bartlett explains: “It gives cover to the real thing. People who knowingly buy real fur can claim it is fake if someone expresses disapproval.”

Designers who renounced fur in the past decade include Charlotte Ronson, Calvin Klein, Vivienne Westwood, Betsey Johnson, Stella McCartney, Todd Oldham and Mark Bouwer. Nicole Miller backtracked, and now shows fur collars on sweaters. Ralph Lauren, who once promised fur-free designs, is using lamb shearling on boots and a vest this season; and formerly fur-free Kenneth Cole is peddling “Fur Sure Boots” on

Kim Kardashian was photographed wearing not one but two fur coats in New York City on a mild November day during the filming of a new reality television show.

Ginger Burr, president of Total Image Consultants, recently flipped through the 700-plus- page Fall issue of Vogue and was startled to find “page after page of fur and shearling” with the message Fur is going where it hasn’t gone before.
In the ground, one hopes.

People who don’t wear full-length fur coats might be persuaded to buy jackets adorned with skins from coyotes, wolves, foxes or raccoons, or fur-trimmed boots, pocketbooks, sweaters or scarves. Animal People editor Merritt Clifton sees the trim as “a byproduct industry”-conceding that “it does help them to get a foot in the door to sell full-fur garments later.”

Clifton does not think fur sales are rebounding. “The fur industry always says that,” says Clifton.

Yet in China, where people have purchased about two-thirds of the global fur production-some 1.5 million fur items-in 2010, one news source asserts: “For some Chinese, fur jackets, coats and hats are a way to show off wealth and success.”

Not everyone is buying.

In my view

“We cannot stop rich people buying fur, but I hope we can at least change the minds of university students, who are potential buyers, from doing this in the future,” says Zhang Qian, the international Design Against Fur competition’s Chinese regional director, to Peoples’ Daily Online.

The 20-year-old Shanghai Film Art Academy student won the Most Popular award for a work titled “Please, don’t take off my clothes,” which depicts a rabbit asking not to be skinned.

Design Against Fur has attracted millions of artwork and design entries from college students who want to counter the allure of flaunting fur. It couldn’t come too soon.

Other animals, like us, deserve to go about the business of living. They were born in their skin; it belongs to them, and so does their freedom.

This winter, we’ll continue our campaigns, in New York City and beyond, encouraging people to reject the advertising of a treacherous and unnecessary industry. We welcome your support.