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The fur’s durability gives point in proportion to sustainability

The fur’s durability gives point in proportion to sustainability
Wednesday 11, 2016

Feelings, craft and a long life are resources, which has brought the fur back in the fashion-picture, a new report concludes. Few pieces of clothing can create as strong feelings as fur.


That has been clear, since the anti fur movement broke out in the 1980’s. However, the activists don’t have patent on the fur-feelings. You find furs in personal histories. It could be as gifts or heirlooms, and that means, you can have feelings for a fur, that isn’t just for keeping warm in winter.

Studies have shown, that while a normal piece of clothing roughly lasts 2,5 years in a wardrobe, the life of fur clothing lasts 30 years. These feelings and the of that following desire of taking care of the fur is an underrated resource, which the fur industry more often should use and promote. This is what, a group of researchers from Kolding Design School, Denmark, have concluded in a new report on the relationship between fur and sustainability.


“There has till now been lots of focus on production. Here the fur industry is gradually convinced that, there should be more transparency and a type of certification, so that the consumers know, how the animals were breeded. If you look at the whole life cycle of the fur, you discover many things such as craftsmanship, durability, reparations, recycling and a long lifespan. That is sustainability in practice. That you must acknowledge, even if you think, that it is wrong, that animals are kept in cages,” says Else Skjold, adjunct, Ph. D. and coordinator of the project.

“Our project isn’t about breeding and animal welfare. We can conclude, that there in the design phase is undergoing a big development, and that the understanding of fur is changing. Fur is in business again, and that might also be due, that fur is a big player in the sustainability game.”

The long lifespan of fur

The report, ‘Fur and Sustainability - a Design Perspective’, was presented at last week’s conference ‘Sustainable fashion, sustainable bottom line’ at Christiansborg. Here researchers, fashion-people, NGO’s and politicians discussed, how the future of fashion production and -use could look. The fur project is a part of a three year long collaboration between Kolding Design School and Kopenhagen Fur, the world’s biggest producer and seller of fur.

Researchers suggest more transparency in the production and look at new design possibilities and at the furs more feeling related significance. Fur carries as civilization's oldest clothing object a collective memory, which still is visible in for example Greenland.

Else Skjold has researched the fur’s life home at the consumers. She has interviewed fur owners about their jackets and coats, and a certain pattern of feelings came to show. “An informant has inherited a Greenlandic fur from her mother. She remembers, how the mother wore it in the 1970’s together with a belting leather bag. You can still see the marks on the fur, where the leather strap tore. Someone else inherited his grandmother’s fur. It was enormous for the grandmother, but now it looks like a doll-fur. However it holds a history about the family, that is what makes it special.

The feelings are an extra quality, which reaches far over the pure crafting-part, and makes the fur owners take better care of their coats. “Especially furs, which you have inherited, have a special significance. They are understood as good quality. ‘Stuff like this can’t just be bought today’, is a typical answer.”

Consumer Proximity

Researchers encourage the fur industry to cooperate with these emotional values. It will in the meantime underline, that fur is an alternative to newer time’s fast fashion. The fast fashion is known for low prices and big changes. Fur is fundamentally a slow material, which requires a unique treatment. As seen from a sustainable angle there are many great values in fur, Else Skjold explains. “It is for example the consumer proximity, which is opposite of the standardization, which you see in fashion. Fur-crafting is exclusive, and when you pay maybe $10.000 for a fur, the furrier and the cutter work, so that the fur fits you.’’

Over the last few centuries there are many furriers, who has disappeared, while others try to pursue the normal fashion market. Both Kopenhagen Fur and Great Greenland work together today with trendsetting designers and would like to work close with the more superficial fashion. “We would like to warn, that the fur industry is moving too far that way. Don’t ever forget the history, the craft and the proximity. That is what, the fashion industry today regrets, that it has done.” As a part of her research Else Skjold has among other things been in China, where Kopenhagen Fur has its biggest market. China buys about 80% of the Danish furs, and according to the researcher the consumers are very aware, that a fur is an investment, which must last the rest of their life.

“The Chinese consumers act sustainable. They save up for something, they want, and they get the fur adjusted, so it is, how they intended it to be. Many use service centres, where the fur is treated and stored correctly. Later there is an opportunity to redesign og pimp the fur, so that it always feels fresh. This is all something that expand the lifespan of the fur. This is also something, which the normal fashion industry could learn something from.”

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