Despite our cold weather - Scotland is generally anti-fur.
I run very glamorous events and I rarely see anyone wearing fur. Good for you Scotland!
If I see fur on a woman, I'll usually find she's a tourist.
Surprisingly - it's the men who are the worst culprits in Scotland. Fur Sporrans are still socially acceptable. In 2007, the Scottish Government introduced legislation to protect endangered species whose skins had been traditionally popular with sporran manufacturers. When I approach a sporran maker they laughingly say that they don't kill animals, they just use roadkill. Hm, doubt that. Let's remove all the doubt. Let's buy fake fur and fake leather sporrans. Just Google "vegan sporrans" and a load of quality places come up. It's very simple.
But fur is creeping back into the shops for the women too. Not so much in big fur coats, but more fur trims on hoods, fur key rings, fur toys, that kind of thing. Scotland for Animals actually managed to get hawkers banned from the streets of Glasgow who were selling such items.
Let's halt all fur in its tracks in this country. Just stop buying it - couldn't be easier. For one, it's usually found in either old lady's shops, or in tacky pound shops. So it's hardly a style statement.
We all know fur is cruel. So cruel that the Scottish Parliament banned fur farms in 2002 - that was a proud moment. Even prouder, the last fur farm in Scotland closed years before that, in 1993. But madly, we can still import the cruelty from other countries. Skinned alive. Mentally deranged on cramped fur farms then electrocuted. Caught in wild traps so they gnaw off their own legs. Poisoned, drowned, made extinct. Baby animals bludgeoned. All kinds of animals. And if you have a particular fondness for cats and dogs then know that their skins are often used too, but labelled as other animals.
Many think it's ok to wear vintage fur as it's recycling, and the animal died decades ago. But I don't agree. You're still promoting real fur as a luxury item and saying it's OK to wear it. If you already own or inherit a real fur item you could do what film star Doris Day did with her many furs - give them to dog shelters for beds.
HOW TO SPOT REAL FUR
Fake furs are so realistic these days that it can be difficult to tell the difference between that and real fur. Sometimes an item will be labelled as fake when it is actually real. And sometimes if you ask a shop assistant if it's fake they will just tell you whatever you want to hear.
Try to see to the back of the fabric - that can make it easier to see if it's animal skin or synthetic.
Put your fingers down to the bottom of the fur - it can sometimes make it more obvious if it's fake or real. Animal fur is very dense.
Pull out just 2-3 strands and CAREFULLY burn them with a lighter. Real fur will smell like burnt hair. Fake fur will smell more like melted plastic.
REAL FUR ALTERNATIVES
Fake furs are of magnificent quality these days and can be found everywhere. I wear fake furs and quite often have "Cruella" shouted at me - which I'm very pleased with: Pleased my fake furs look real, and pleased that people are willing to stand up to fur hags.
I use fake fur a lot as a showgirl and impresario of Club Noir. All the photos on this page are from my shows.
LOVE CLOTHES. LOVE ANIMALS
While on the subject of animal cruelty for fur, let's look at other cruel clothes.
I love beautiful clothes and I love beautiful animals. I'm vegan and so don't wear animal materials. Animals are not ours to wear, walk on or carry our possessions in. Before animal products reach the shops, the animals have lived a life of misery, pain, boredom and fear.
Despite animal welfare stereotypes of hand-knitted jumpers and hemp, you can dress fabulously and not hurt animals.
Before any clever clogs finger wags at us - yes of course everything we wear hurts animals at some point in its manufacture. Eg there are lots of non-leather shoes out there but the glue is probably made from animals. It's not perfect, but it's a pretty-shoed step in the right direction.
Leather is just as cruel as fur. Every year, the global leather industry slaughters more than 1 billion animals, and GB makes £600 million every year. Leather from Asian countries such as India and China often comes from animals whose throats were cut and whose skin was ripped off while the animals were still conscious. Our UK leather mainly comes from cow skin, but it can also be from zebra, salmon, kangaroos, seals, crocodiles, snakes, lizards, ostriches, dolphins, toads, kangaroos, goats, pigs. Soft leather comes from calves, and the softest leather comes from unborn calves whose mothers have been slaughtered.
It's not just the animals who suffer. Each time you buy a new pair of leather shoes you are responsible for using as much water as having a bath every day for over 40 years. Tannery workers have an increased risk of suffering from skin and melanoma, kidney, bladder, testicular, lung and pancreatic cancers.
Avoid anything that says leather, suede, chamois. Cow skins are in fashion at the moment too so should be avoided. Other words for animal hides are vellum, deacon, doeskin, sheepskin, kid/kidskin, lambskin, latigo leather, grassers, hide, parchment, pigskin, skin, slunk, patent leather. Other popular animal skins to avoid are alligator, crocodile, lizard, snake and ostrich.
If any item has this logo then it's leather.
3,000 silkworms die to make every pound of silk. There are humane alternatives invented, but I never come across any of these when shopping. They may actually be manmade silk but the manufacturer won't say that as it may be considered inferior. So in the meantime I just won't buy it. However, there are lots of quality garments out there that feel and look beautiful and sensuous but which are not silk.
This is seldom if ever discussed by animal welfarists. But most feathers garments are made from dead animals or animals that are bred for their meat eg ostrich. Very, very rarely are they made from feathers that are naturally shed. Information is difficult to come by on the subject of feathers. From my own point of view - if there's money to be made from animals there will be cruelty involved. Feather Down harvested from ducks and geese is particularly cruel. As much as 5 ounces of feathers and down are pulled from each bird every six weeks from when they're 10 weeks old until they are up to 4 years old. I don't know if they do this with peacocks, ostriches and other popular feather machines - I can only assume that they would if they can make more money out of them. Most feather items in the shops are made from slaughtered chickens. You can even buy feather boas and other feathered items at pound shops. Once anything has hit the pound shops you can safely say it's reached tacky level - another good reason not to wear feathers.
The feathers are plucked from an ostrich every 7-10 months. Birds have a hood put over their heads, are immobilised in a wooden V-shaped crush while feathers are cut off. That, believe it or not, is the kindest way to harvest their feathers. The other method used on ostrich farms, to ensure quality leather skins, is to remove the ostrich feathers by hand, pulling the feathers one-by-one out of their sockets with pliers while the bird is alive.
Everyone wears feathers in burlesque - yawn. My twin sister and I are burlesque performers but we never wear feathers. It pushes us to be more creative and we're always complimented on our fabulous costumes.
Sheep have evolved to grow just enough wool for protection from the cold and to keep cool in the summer. Wild sheep do not need to be sheared. Their time of shedding occurs when it is of benefit to them. Farmed sheep can often be shorn at times not suitable for the animal. Millions of sheep die from exposure after premature shearing. Flies feed on shearing wounds or the thin, exposed skin which delays wound healing. Sheep are dehorned, castrated and tails docked. Female sheep are breeding machines.
More than 80% of the world's clothing wool comes from Australia. Many animals here suffer from lice, fleece rot and foot rot - as painful as it sounds. Millions of slow agonising deaths are caused by infestations of flystrike where the sheep's flesh is slowly consumed by thousands of swarming maggots until death finally results. The sheep are so distressed they cannot eat, drink or sleep. Sheep can die within a few days but many linger for up to several weeks, often in the burning sun without relief from shade. Lambs are forced to endure a gruesome procedure called mulesing in which huge chunks of skin and flesh are cut from the animals' backsides, without any painkillers. Some big companies such as H&M and Hugo Boss have boycotted Australian wool for this reason. Millions of these sheep are then shipped on crammed ships to the Middle East where animal welfare standards are non-existent. These journeys can last for months. The sheep are dragged off the ships, loaded onto trucks, and dragged by their ears and legs to unregulated slaughterhouses, where their throats are slit while they are still conscious.
It's not only sheep who suffer for wool. Angora wool is made from angora rabbits. Mohair and cashmere from goats.
There are many wool alternative products in the shops. Check the labels of clothes. Avoid anything with the words wool, wool mix, wool blend, merino wool, gabardine, crepe, tweed, angora, alpaca, boucle, gabardine, cool wool, crepe, cashmere, flannel, melton, camel hair, jersey, mohair, worsteds.
Look out for viscose, nylon, polyester, cotton. They're not as cheap and nasty as they sound - great improvements have been made in these materials. Get with the times.
Many hats are made from wool - but so many aren't. I have a growing collection of non-wool hats myself.
Other good reasons not to wear wool: it can be itchy, it shrinks in the wash, trickier to launder generally, moths find it tasty.
OTHER ANIMAL PRODUCTS
There are other clothing and accessories that are made from animals that I don't buy. Ivory - made from elephant tusks. Tortoiseshell. Astrakhan- made from sheep embryos (also known as Persian lamb). Pearls. These are beautiful items if you discount where they come from - but there are beautiful imitations out there.
Stay beautiful! xxx