Written by Bertie Bowen

Lifestyle

All the fun of the faux fur

Bertie Bowen is a faux fur fan. Faux Fur Friday (yes, really) seems the ideal time for her to wax furrylicious about its good points.

Fake it until you make it: Margot Tenenbaum (Gwyneth Paltrow) rocks the faux fur look. Photo: Buena Vista Pictures.

Fake it ’til you make it: Margot Tenenbaum (Gwyneth Paltrow) rocks the faux fur look. Photo: Buena Vista Pictures.

Happy Faux Fur Friday!

Yes, that is a real thing. I haven’t made it up and, yeah I know, now you’ve heard it all (insert eye-roll emoji here).

According to Wikipedia: “Some American groups participate in ‘Fur Free Friday’, an event held annually on the Friday after Thanksgiving that uses displays, protests, and other methods to highlight their beliefs regarding furs.” And there I was just about to make the cynical presumption that there was probably a company connected to the promoting and/or selling of faux fur products involved somewhere.

Fur has been a divisive issue in fashion for decades, but as these days wearing faux rather than real fur is a no-brainer for most people, do we really need a national day to champion faux fur? Apparently we do: Saga Furs claim that in 2015, 73 per cent of the 436 autumn/winter shows in New York, Paris, Milan and London featured fur. That’s shockingly high.

I know some hardcore anti-fur extremists would argue wearing faux only popularises the fur aesthetic so should also be avoided, but within fashion, it seems, the appeal of fluffy fabric is inescapable.

Vegan designer Stella McCartney notoriously avoided leather and fur in her collections for years, deeming the use of fur as “barbaric” until her 2015 Autumn/Winter show ‘Fur Free Fur’ dedicated to the stuff. This perhaps signals that even the most extreme anti-fur campaigners should just give in and embrace the faux. I mean they literally should try it – a faux fur coat is like being hugged by huge teddy bear.

“The old faux fur was trying to look real and felt nasty but a velvety-soft, warm, fun and colourful version feels young, modern and, importantly, like its real counterpart: luxurious.”

Fur is thought to have been the first material used as clothing and bodily decoration by our ancestors and historically fur has been a symbol of wealth and status. It has remained widely popular, especially in cooler climates until relatively recently.

Even though a synthetic version was invented in the early 1900s it wasn’t really until the 1980s that anti-fur activism reached its peak and finally convinced much of the world that using fur in fashion is unnecessary and unethical. But it appears that real fur has been creeping back into the high fashion collections without us even realising.

Until recently the faux fur available was nowhere near as soft or warm as the real thing. Real fur still held some appeal to those with the wealth (and lack of conscience). Artificial fur had a noticeable sheen to it and an almost crispy feel to the touch which felt cheap. As a fellow stylist said to me regarding faux fur: “ Margot Tenenbaum springs to mind. But then again, so does Pat Butcher.” On the one hand fur has a rock and roll quality to it but there’s no denying the seedy and tacky associations it also carries.

In 2013 a new brand, Shrimps, arrived with a fresh approach to faux fur. Shrimps’ instantly recognisable zany, colourful furry coats and stoles were made with the softest faux anyone had felt since the real thing. They inspired a new way to wear fur, embracing the fakeness of the fabric.

colour fake fur
Bright and gaudy faux fur sprung up all over the high street: coats with fur hoods, tactile collars, soft trimmings on bags, silky rainbow scarves and fluffy pom-poms on everything. An age-old trend was reborn.

The old faux fur was trying to look real and felt nasty but a velvety-soft, warm, fun and colourful version feels young, modern and, importantly, like its real counterpart: luxurious. Using real fur has never been more needless.

So yes: I would encourage you to join in with Faux Fur Friday this year. Don your best colourful faux, don’t skimp on the quality and flaunt the fact it’s fake. If we really champion the fakeness of the fur then maybe the real thing will finally fall out of fashion for good.

And don’t forget to #fauxfurfriday.

@BertRumBow
instagram.com/bertiebowen

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Written by Bertie Bowen

Stylist, writer and mother living in East London. A clompy shoed, curly haired, Radio 4 enthusiast. www.mothershoppers.com