Q: Is fur still popular? Why?
A: Fur is the perfect combination of style and warmth. Today’s fur coats are significantly lighter weight and easier to wear, although they’re just as warm as your grandmother’s fur. Fur is one of the most environmentally friendly fabrics available for today’s sophisticated and socially aware consumer.
Fur is often featured on the catwalks of New York, London and Milan as designers such as Marc Jacobs, Mulberry and Gucci lead the return to wearable, luxury fashion.
Upwards of 500 clothing designers are now using fur, and their fur designs are more creative than ever, thanks to innovations in design, manufacturing, dying, laser cutting, and micro-shearing. A wider range of styles and designs are now available that span from street chic to elegant eveningwear. These designs appeal to a broader range of consumers, including those who care about how their choice in clothing impacts the environment.
Q: How are fur sales overall?
A: Global fur sales have been steadily rising since 1998, when the International Fur Trade Federation (IFTF) began collecting sales figures. The IFTF reported a 7 percent increase (year over year) in fur sales for the winter of 2010/2011, despite the economic downturn. Global fur sales in 2011 totaled $15 billion, while U.S. sales also bounced back to pre-recession levels, at around $1.3 billion. (2010/2011 was the last year sales figures were available.)
The worldwide fur trade employs more than one million people full-time.
Q: Fur is environmentally responsible? Tell me more!
A: The concept of environmental responsibility is important to today’s consumer, and for good reason. Research shows that consumers overall are willing to take personal ownership of their own consumption habits if it can help make tomorrow’s world a better place.
Studies have found that fur is better than other textiles when evaluated against several environmental factors. A study by Oregon State University compared a broad range of textiles, including wool, leather, fur, cotton, silk, linen, rayon, polyester, nylon and acrylic. Fur outperformed them all.
The reason fur is environmentally responsible is because it is non-polluting and energy-efficient to obtain, produce, fabricate, maintain and dispose of. It is also 100% biodegradable, long lasting, renewable, reusable and natural/non-toxic.
Q: What about fake furs? Aren’t they better?
A: Imitation is the greatest form of flattery, and the popularity of fake fur only proves that fur is “in.” But no matter how good the fake fur is, it will never have the warmth, the feel or the durability of real fur.
Consumers fail to understand that from an environmental point of view, fake fur is far worse than real fur. Most fake fur is made from petroleum-based products that are derived from non-renewable resources. The manufacture of fake fur also releases harmful chemicals into the atmosphere.
Real fur is a natural, renewable, biodegradable resource and therefore the responsible choice for the environmentally conscious consumer.
Q: Isn’t fur a luxury item?
A: In cold climates, there is nothing warmer than fur. In fact, its warmth was the number one reason consumers gave when asked why they purchased fur.
Luxury is subjective. Why should wearing fur be considered a luxury when wearing leather shoes and eating meat (which also requires breeding animals for human consumption) are generally considered necessities – not luxuries?
Q: Are there less expensive options for buying fur?
A: Yes. Ribnick Fur & Leather carries an wide selection of “pre-loved” furs, many of which were purchased and cared for at our store.
Q: How is fur produced?
A: Fur either comes from a fur farm, much like chicken, cows or pigs, or from certified fur trappers, who have found effective ways to control over-abundant populations. Strict local, national and international standards and regulations guide fur farming and trapping.
Fur farmers and certified trappers sell the furs at auction in lots. Fur buyers send the fur to manufacturers and designers for treating and making into garments and or accessories before shipping them to retailers.
Every species used by the fur industry today is as abundant or more abundant than it was a century ago. No furs come from endangered species such as leopard. Many years ago, the IFTF imposed its own voluntary moratorium on trading in leopard and other species, and they also financed research into the population status of various fur-bearers.
Consumers can be assured that the fur they’re buying or wearing comes from a country where national or local regulations and standards govern fur production.
Q. How are the animals bred for their fur treated on the farms?
A: Today’s farm-raised furbearers are among the best cared-for livestock. Good nutrition, comfortable housing and prompt veterinary care have resulted in domestic animals that are well adapted to the farm environment. The healthiest and best cared-for animals produce the finest pelts. Close attention to animal care and strict adherence to animal husbandry guidelines enable farmers to produce quality furs that are in demand in today’s marketplace.
Fur farming is highly regulated under international, national and regional laws and guidelines. In the U.S., state statutes cover everything from mistreatment and neglect to intentional cruelty. Local and/or state agencies investigate any suspicious activity, and under current anti-cruelty statutes, anyone who mistreats an animal faces investigation, prosecution, fines, jail time and the removal of their animals.
Q: How many of the pelts come from animals that are caught in the wild?
A: The vast majority of fur (85 percent) comes from specialty fur farms, while only about 15 to 20 percent comes from wild animals that are abundant in population. Like fur farming, wild fur trapping or hunting is governed by local, national and international laws that regulate animal welfare, environmental impact and biodiversity sustainability.
Wildlife biologists and management officials agree that some animals, such as raccoons, are so abundant in the U.S. today that failure to properly manage these populations would be disastrous for their habitats, the animals and people who share these habitats and the animals themselves.
Trapping is the most efficient method of controlling overpopulation and is a highly regulated practice that uses state-of-the-art methodology, developed through years of research at the international level. Wildlife professionals need trapping to monitor and curb the incidences of wildlife diseases such as rabies, Lyme disease and distemper. Poison, by contrast, is neither selective nor humane.
Q: How can consumers tell where the fur comes from?
A: The Fur Products Labeling Act of 1952 requires that all fur products sold in the U.S. carry a label clearly stating the species and country of origin. Product labels including SAGA, Kopenhagen Fur Center, American Legend (Blackglama) or NAFA provide further assurance that the fur is from North American or European Farms.
At the international level, the IFTF has recently collaborated with the four major fur auction houses, American Legend Cooperative, Finnish Fur Sales, Kopenhagen Fur, and North American Fur Auctions, to introduce a new fur labeling program, the Origin Assured (OA) label. This reflects IFTF’s commitment to total transparency throughout the fur industry’s supply chain. To be eligible for the OA label, fur must be sourced from approved species and approved countries of production.
Today’s savvy, socially conscious consumer expects to receive honest, clear information about where their fur comes from and that it was produced in a responsible manner. The OA Label guarantees consumers that the fur product they are buying comes from a country where national or local regulations or standards governing fur production are in force.
Q: Are retailers in the U.S. selling fur from dogs and cats?
A: Absolutely not. In fact, the Dog and Cat Protection Act of 2000 makes the sale of dog and cat fur a federal offense.
Q: What about Asiatic Raccoon?
A: This species has been casually referred to as “raccoon dog” by anti-fur proponents, who use the misnomer to confuse consumers.
This species, properly called the Asiatic Raccoon according to the Fur Products Labeling Guide, has been a part of the legitimate fur trade for almost a century. A white paper written by the Smithsonian Institution clearly states, “domestic dog, Canis familiaris, and Raccoon dog, Nyctereutes procyonoides, are both members of the Canidae; however they are not closely related and definitely are not the same genus or species.”
Q: The animal rights movement continues to target the fur industry. Have they impacted fur sales?
A: The primary reason for the decline in fur sales during the late 80’s and early 90’s was due to the recession and the general downward trend in purchasing of luxury goods – not the animal rights movement.
According to research by the research firm Responsive Management, 88 percent of Americans say that the animal rights movement had no influence on their decision to buy or not buy fur. An overwhelming 92 percent said they disapprove of the tactics used by animal activists.
Further, Gallup Poll results from May 2011 found that the majority of Americans support the “moral acceptability” of fur.
Q: What is Ribnick Fur’s view of animal rights organizations?
A: First of all, there’s a big difference between animal welfare and animal rights organizations. Animal welfare groups promote the responsible use and keeping of animals and aim to ensure that animal welfare is at an optimum. The fur industry supports and works with such organizations.
Animal” rights” organizations, on the other hand, hold the uncompromising view that humans have no right to use animals for any purpose. They oppose ANY use of animals, even for food, vital medical research or as pets. They often use extreme or sensationalist tactics as well as outright lies or inaccuracies to promote their ideology.
Q: How does Ribnick Furs respond to animal protesters?
A: We respect the right of individuals to voice their opinions and exercise their right to choose whether to wear fur or leather, eat meat or support the use of animals in medical research.
Consumers are tired of groups telling them what to wear, eat or how to live their lives. Most people choose to eat meat and wear leather. And most consumers ignore the rhetoric of the animal rights movement, and will come to their own conclusion about whether or not to buy and wear fur.
The fur trade uses less than one-quarter of one percent of the animals used for food and other purposes. We believe there is nothing wrong with using animals for clothing as long as the animals are treated humanely and no animal species becomes threatened or endangered.
Q: Should I worry about animal rights activists using scare tactics such as throwing paint at people wearing fur coats?
A: When communication and peaceful protest fail to significantly alter human perceptions or behavior, the most extreme animal rights activists have resorted to violence. Fighting with violence solves nothing, except to win them possible jail time.
Fortunately, these types of animal activists are rare, and if they destroy personal property or threaten individuals, they are committing a crime. Government and law enforcement are now recognizing animal activists as “domestic terrorists,” and treat their crimes in accordance to state and federal laws.
Q: Can older furs be “altered” to make them into a current, fashionable style?
A: Yes! Bring your beloved fur to Ribnick Furs, and our Master Furrier will expertly restyle it into a beautiful new garment. We can taper the collar, soften the shoulder, update the length, take it in, let it out, shear or dye the fur, or add embellishments to create a contemporary, one-of-a-kind design.
Q: How should I care for my coat?
A. We recommend that you put your coat in cold storage during warm weather to protect it from drying out. We also recommend that you have it cleaned once a year by a fur specialist.
When looking after it at home, always hang your fur on a broad-shouldered hanger and give it room in your wardrobe so it doesn’t get crushed. If your fur gets wet, shake it out and hang it dry in a well-ventilated room. Never put it on a direct heat source. Once it’s dry, give it a shake and you’re ready to go.