I used to be gung-ho for fake fur and similar alternative products, but I'm beginning to have some mixed feelings.
Step into any mall or department store, and you'll see fur is EVERYWHERE this season. JC Penney in my local mall set up a display under the sign "fur-rocious!" with tons of rabbit-fur wraps and sweaters with real fur trim. Penney's, Kaufmanns, Burlington Coat Factory, Peebles, and countless other store chains seem to have expanded their fur inventory--selling everything from fur-trimmed parkas and sweaters to rabbit fur scarves and hats. Even teen stores like Gadzooks and Rave have gotten into the act, and are selling numerous lower-priced, lower-quality real fur jackets, vests, ponchos, and scarves.
These real fur products are lower priced than most traditional fur products, and they are sold right alongside fake fur items. Many of them, especially the fur-trim products, are not even labeled that they are made of fur. And quite a few, especially the rabbit-fur trim, are dyed unnatural colors like blue or burgundy. I have spoken to several people who automatically assume that because these products are unlabelled, cheap, and not in a traditional fur salon, they must be fake.
In this way, fake fur has benefited the fur industry. It has allowed them to re-introduce real fur, piece by piece, back into everyday department stores. A person no longer has to go to a costly boutique to buy fur. Indeed, they don't even have to be aware of what they are buying at all!
The conspiracy theorist in me is also starting to suspect the plethora of fake fur items that appeared in recent years was a test marketing of sorts. Perhaps clothing companies and stores wanted to test the market and see if the public went for fake fur. If they did, maybe they'd go for inexpensive real fur, too. I see Gadzooks as a great example. Two years ago, I thought, "Wow! Look at all of this fake fur and pleather, that's great they're choosing the kinder alternatives!" Now, when I walk by thier huge display of rabbit fur coats, I think, "Oh ****. Won't get fooled again." I'm starting to believe their previous enthusiasm for fake fur was a test to see if the teen and juniors market would respond to the fur look.
Countless fashion articles on the subject have the general theme of, "Well, it doesn't matter if you buy fake or real, fur is hot, hot, hot!" In a sense, the industry's ingenious strategy is to erase the cost, status, and moral divide between animal fur and imitation fur.
I have fake fur clothing items that I've bought in the past. I always put "Fake" buttons on my fake fur and pleather products, but I'm starting to worry it's not enough. What I used to see as a harmless way to promote and advertise alternatives to cruelty, I'm starting to wonder is just promoting all fur as desirable.
slops, gloops, and gruels.