Should Vegans Wear Faux Fur?
Most vegans feel certain that they don't want to wear real fur. Even if they love the look, over time it becomes apparent that skin is not fabric. With fur, this feeling of repulsion happens much more easily than with leather, even though there's not really much difference between the two. Even non-vegans may be uncomfortable with the idea of wearing a real fur coat.
But what about faux fur?
Is it ok for vegans to wear it? What kind of message does it send? Let's take a look.
First, let's start with the possible negative impacts of wearing faux fur:
ONE Wearing faux fur promotes all fur.
You may not be supporting the fur industry directly, but when you wear faux fur (especially faux fur that looks real) you are advertising for the fur industry.
This is the number one reason I hear from vegans that claim wearing faux fur is wrong. The idea is that someone will see you wearing a faux fur coat, think it looks great, and go buy themselves a real one. In this way, you are indirectly causing suffering to animals.
To play devil's advocate for a second, I don't think vegans (or anyone) should be responsible for the actions of others. We all make our own choices. If I wear my vegan winter boots and that influences someone to go buy boots that are similar but contain wool, leather, shearling, or fur - is that really my fault? I don't think so.
However, I can understand why wearing realistic faux fur is different. Someone who sees it and likes it is having the idea that fur is fashionable reinforced in their head, faux or otherwise. And that's not something we want.
TWO People will judge you for it.
When you wear faux fur, there's always the possibility that someone will think it's real, and judge you for it. You might not care, but people who know you're vegan may get mixed messages. About what veganism means, about what it represents, and about what vegans believe.
As possibly the only vegan someone knows, it's up to you to represent the movement as well as you can. Someone who sees you wearing what they believe to be real fur may lose respect for vegans and not give the vegan movement the consideration and respect it deserves.
Once again, to play devil's advocate, you are not solely responsible for someone's impression of veganism. You don't need to be the poster child for veganism for all of your family and friends, 24/7. You're human. You still have to live your life. I don't mean that you should be buying burgers for all of your friends and get decked out in animal products head to toe, but be a perfect vegan? Not only is that not a requirement, but it's not even possible.
So I guess what I'm saying is, do your best. Whenever you can, aim to be a positive representation of veganism. But if you just want to eat vegan grilled gary in your pj's and faux fur jacket from time to time, you do you.
THREE It represents a horrific industry.
Wearing faux fur is glamourizing wearing the skin and hair of another animal, and that's pretty opposite to the whole core belief behind veganism. Even if it's faux fur, it represents a garment and an industry based on the skinning of animals.
Maybe, just maybe, not something you want wrapped around you.
Ok, so negatives aside, let's talk about the possible positive impacts of wearing faux fur. (Yes, there are some.)
ONE It proves that vegan fashion can still be badass.
If fur fits into your style, rocking it ethically may just be the best way to show others that cruelty-free fashion is just as awesome as the cruelty-filled kind. (Just so long as they know it's faux. More on that in a minute.)
TWO It shows others how far vegan materials have come.
I can't count the number of times I've had people tell me they can't believe my Matt & Nat bags are vegan. The leather looks so REAL, they say. Yeah, because vegan materials are sexy AF. And don't hurt anybody. So basically win-win.
THREE You're voting with your dollar.
It's a cliche, but it's a valid point. When you buy faux fur, especially from a company that also sells real fur, you're showing them that faux fur is more profitable. When you buy faux fur from a vegan company, you're helping to support an ethical brand. In both cases, you're helping sway the tide toward more compassionate fashion.
So, should vegans wear faux fur?
It's really up to you.
If you want to wear it, I suggest investing in a pin or patch to add to it that makes it clear that the fur is faux. These are a couple of the many options out there (click on the image to buy):