Autumn is closing in. We've had weeks of rain, a warm weekend and every day the weather is surprise. So, typical Dutch weather but there's no denying the change of seasons anymore.
This morning before work, I went to the market to pick up fruit and vegetables for this week. I was so early that some stalls were still busy unpacking. However, I did walk back to my bicycle the (slightly) long(er) way, past the second hand stalls.
At The Hague's general market, there are three stalls specializing in second hand clothes, and a few general second hand stalls which sometimes have a rack or a pile of clothes (I tend to avoid those). One is the place where I buy my to-be-refashioned leather and silk clothes, another the place where my interesting vintage finds, both clothes and accesoiries, come from and the third is a big two-stall emporium of tacky old party-clothes, shoes, leather and above all, fur. I've never bought anything there. The place with the most interesting vintage stuff also sells some fur in winter. The first two pieces were on the racks now.
picture from a 1930's Sears Catalog (from the book 'Everyday Fashions of the Thirties, as pictured in Sears Catalogs)
Seeing this display of seasonal vintage fair begs the question: Is it OK to wear vintage fur? Obviously, there would be the intuitive 'Oh my, I'm wearing dead animals' issue (which seems to bother a lot of people, including myself, much more in the case of fur than in that of leather...). But honestly, that hardly constitutes a rational, moral point of view.
About that, I'm still pretty much on the fence. I do not at all aprove of the modern fur trade as a luxury (meaning that, although I'm too far from such places to actually be able to have a well-founded opinion, I think it's OK if you live in places where it get extremely cold and need to wear fur just to stay warm). In fact, I was rather shocked to find out, two years ago, that not only is there still a fur industry in this country, it actually has an anual contest for designers, to promote its wares. And some fairly well-known Dutch designers actually participate in this...
Vintage fur isn't quite the same though.
Wearing fur lost a lot of its popularity since the 1980's. This means that most of the stock of those market stalls pre-dates me. Those animals suffered and were killed before I was even born. They were made into coats which were bought and worn for years, but are not worn out yet. If they are at the market now, this is their last stop. If no-one buys them, it will end with a one-way trip to the landfill. Which hardly seems a very sustainable course of action...
Nothing at all wrong with that view, is there? Well, no. But, maybe...
In a book I read (I thought the title was 'the importance of sunglasses' but Amazon doesn't recognise that title) there was quite a valid argument against wearing vintage fur. The book was a collection of articles by a prominent British fashion and style journalist. And she was opposed to the wearing of fur, period.
First of all, she thought the 'the animals were not killed to dress me but someone years ago'-argument was a weak and in fact rather silly one. However, her main argument was less a matter of taste or way of reasoning: She stated that by wearing fur, even if it's vintage, you promote the look of it. So, even if you would never buy a coat for which animals were killed recently, you are in a way indirectly justifying the present-day fur trade.
Seeing the fur on display this morning (I really should bring a camera to the market some day soon) made me wonder about this. What's your opinion on this sticky issue?