That Touch of Mink

I had an absolutely fabulous Christmas Vacation. Rest and relaxation as far as the eye can see! Granted I did try to get in some much needed work on the shop – Dressmaker’s Hams & Rolls are finally back in stock. Yay! I also did a ton of sewing. The weird thing being that it doesn’t look like I have very much to show for it.

My mom and sis were in town over my holiday vacation and we went out for a rather marvelous lunch and some thrifting at a most favorite local thrift shop. I found this sweet little vintage fur collar there and promptly took it home to amend. By the way, I’m quite sure this is not mink as I’ve had a mink stole before (the title of this post is just for fun) and the coloring and feel is much different. I’m not sure what sort of fur this is, but it is the real deal. The original lining was in rather sad shape so I unpicked the whole thing and started from scratch. I used Casey’s clever tutorial and came out with a rather stellar looking collar which I have been pairing with a jewel necked cardi I bought some time ago. Mr. S thinks this is utterly strange and finds fur collars to be a really “dated” look. Whenever I wear it about, he inquires why I would wear such a thing and proceeds to meow at me and pet the collar…

I thought I would bring up the topic here for discussion too. What do you think about real fur? Do you wear it? Would you wear it? I had told Mr. S that “at least it’s a vintage authentic fur and not one that was tanned today.” And he asked, “What’s the difference?” To which I’m positively stumped for a reply. I’ve never really been averse to authentic fur, at least when found in a thrift store. I had never actually sewn with any either and found myself curious about how it would measure up against other fabrics. What do you say? Yea or Nay?

xoxo,
Sunni

  • Tors - I love it, it looks great on you. It’s not a dated look, it’s a timeless look ;)

    I’ve actually just inherited my Nana’s vintage mink fur coat and hat. I’m happy wearing vintage fur, what’s done is done and it seems a waste to throw it away just because of what it’s made of. I don’t condone new fur, unless you live in the Arctic and it’s a question of survival I don’t believe that raising animals just for their coat is fair because these garments are made through aesthetic rather than environmental requirements. If all the animal was used (like with cows and sheep and pigs) then I might have a different opinion but for now, I say no. It’s a thorny subject for sure and everyone has strong opinions on it!ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie - I have two vintage fur hats and a vintage coat with a fur collar. It doesn’t really bother me to wear vintage fur. I know I’d never buy any modern fur so I don’t really think my vintage fur pieces are having any effect on the modern fur market. If I could find a faux fur that felt as fabulous as real fur, I’d probably be able to resist the real deal but no luck yet.ReplyCancel

  • megannielsen - oh Sunni!! This is gorgeous! I adore it! you and casey are convincing me i need one too!
    To be honest, i feel like i should have an opinion about fur – but i really don’t. I think if i thought about it then vintage fur would upset me more, since i figure they probably got it in a worse way than nowadays when we’re all so hypersensitive? i dunno!

    Whatever the case, that collar is divine :) ReplyCancel

    • Sunni - I have to admit I’m still in your camp Megan. Strong and very convincing points have been brought up here, but I still don’t know that I have a true opinion about it. I find it to be an interesting sort of textile and for this small project, was more intrigued by actually being able to work with it than anything else.ReplyCancel

  • Alana - Love the new header, Sunni

    I’ve been vegetarian my whole life but I think my feelings about it are best summed up by Stephanie above.ReplyCancel

  • didyoumakethat - I am very strongly anti fur. I even have issues with the wearing of vintage fur as I think that the continued use of it as a fashion accessory compounds the philosophy that fur should be part of fashion. I like fun fur, but fake fur that looks convincingly real worries me, also – isn’t this just buying into the glamorisation of fur? That’s my four penn-worth!ReplyCancel

    • Emma - I completely agree with didyoumakethat.
      Like many comments here, I condemned modern fur but thought I could justify vintage fur. But I realized that wearing any real fur – vintage or otherwise – says you think fur is fashionable and hence endorses it as a modern practice.

      Also, to address the ‘I eat it so I might as well wear it’ argument: the animals used for their fur suffer immensely, it’s not as simple as it once used to be – where (wo)man would hunt for food and use every part of the animal for survival.
      Animals used for their fur are usually only used for their fur. It is a violent and wasteful practice.
      Please google ‘fur farms’, hopefully you will get some more information on how fur is produced.

      I’m sorry if this may be graphic, but I also strongly recommend anyone who wears any kind of real fur to watch the film ‘Earthlings’ specifically the chapter on ‘Fur’. If you condone and find no reason to disagree with the way fur is produced then I can understand why you may wear it. But if you find this disturbing and at conflict with your morals, then please stop buying real fur – vintage or otherwise – if it’s not fashionable then it won’t continue to be made.

      Here is a link to the video (it’s kind of in the middle of the ‘Fur’ chapter but hopefully it will still help people to research a little further into the industry):

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oiXJy0E6rRs&feature=related

      ^^Please please please watch it if you wear fur!

      I hope my post can help some of the animals who suffer and some of the people who are still unsure of where they stand on the issue or would like some more information.

      I certainly don’t want to offend anyone or ‘hate’ on those who wear fur, that is certainly not my intention. I just hope that my post can help everyone (both those who choose to wear real fur and those who don’t) to have an informed decision that they can justify for themselves.
      Thank you :) ReplyCancel

    • Sunni - I think this is a very strong point Karen! One that does make a lot of sense too. I’m quite glad you brought it up, because it gives me another food for thought on this rather heated subject.ReplyCancel

  • ladykatza - My response to most people is that, since I am an omnivore (I try to go free range as much as possible) if I’ll eat it, I’ll wear it. And as others have said, if its vintage its already been done. Might as well wear it so the animals had a purpose in life.ReplyCancel

  • ReadyThreadSew - I have slightly mixed feelings about vintage fur. I don’t think I would ever buy it because I have an aversion to wearing real fur, but it doesn’t really bother me if someone else buys and wears it. New fur on the other hand is just wrong on every level, to me.ReplyCancel

  • Leah - I guess the justification for wearing vintage fur is that you aren’t supporting an existing industry or perpetuating the demand for new fur, but rather using something that was made however long ago. I am anti-fur and against the modern fur industry, but I also think it would be extremely wasteful not to use what already exists. Ideally I would like no more animals to be killed for the purposes of fashion from this point in time forward, especially given all of the modern advancements in thermal technology, but I wouldn’t want to destroy every piece of fur that has already been made into a garment.

    My grandmother had a full mink coat, and while in it’s way it’s beautiful and certainly vintage, I don’t think I could ever wear it, not just because of my own feelings, but because of what I worry it would say about me. It’s not like you can wear a sign saying “don’t worry, this is vintage, I’m being good to the earth and re-using and re-purposing, concentrate on that and not the mink massacre!”.

    That being said, your collar is lovely, and I have a vintage collar I’ve been meaning to re-fashion in just such a manner. So I guess you pick and chose, like everything else in the universe.ReplyCancel

  • Helen - Love fur. It looks gorgeous, is warm beyond belief, and would wear it in a heartbeat, especially vintage that already exists and can be rescued and refashioned. I eat meat, wear leather, and love fur.ReplyCancel

  • Chris Howard - Just as a way to leave my 2 cents, I spend a great deal of my time in Alaska and there, fur is EVERYWHERE. But they eat the animals and use the fur, there is nothing left when the natives are done with an animal. There is no possible way to be a a strict vegetarian up there because of the short growing season and lack of soil in which to grow produce.

    But fur there is a statement and it is practical due to the extreme cold, it is much warmer than any other material. But the artistry employed to make fur garments is amazing.

    Down here, faux furs are fun and easily affordable. Up cycling vintage fur is a fun alternative to modern fur practices.

    I just wanted to leave a different perspective. I mean not to offend anyone. ChrisReplyCancel

    • didyoumakethat - That’s a very interesting perspective, and very politely put!ReplyCancel

    • Sunni - I think this is a very good perspective to leave. When I first started thinking about this subject, indeed the image that immediately came to mind is one of the “hunter gathering sort” that also used everything when they were fortunate enough to be able to slay an animal and use all the elements that particular animal would have to give. Fur is very warm and especially in a climate such as Alaska, I can see how fur would be practical and for the most part necessary, just to keep warm.ReplyCancel

  • Heather Lou - Sunni, that collar is killer and also totally en pointe this season – peeps have been fashioning collar necklaces, fancy shirt collars etc. for accessories everywhere I look these days. Loves.

    As for the fur – I would never buy new. It just seems…. tacky. Maybe it’s the stigma since I wear new leather, but spending thousands on a brand spanking new fur coat? I have better things to do with my money. But vintage? OOOOOOO BOY. No issue. None. Those poor critters have been dead for years and we might as well put them to good use. Also, I live in Montreal and wearing a fur is a much chic-er alternative to the ubiquitous parka.ReplyCancel

  • Corinne - This subject surfaces so often. I think that the I have and do wear fur, modern, is the smallest camp. I believe that the vintage and refashion group has enlarged due to thrift shops and inheritance. The faux furs are quite nice now. I have a divine snow leopard coat that everyone, absolutely everyone swears is the real deal, it is not. I have a white shearling something or other that also looks real. I was the fortunate winner of Casey’s fur collar from last year. With a cardi, stunning. Classic. Retro but modern as well.

    Your collar is beautiful and timeless. While it is hard to tell from the photo, it might be a type of mink. Not all mink is smooth and flat. Many of the coats sold in the 80′s looked much like this. Truthfully, it was a lesser quality mink, readily available and affordable. They were imported from China and flooded the market. I had co-workers who had them. I had another co-worker who had a drop dead gorgeous Blackglamma. She wore it to work one day. Oh, my. While I choose not to wear real fur, I am afraid that if that Blackglamma came into my possession, I would have to give in. I’m just saying.ReplyCancel

  • Lauren - I looove vintage fur. I have a bunch of those little fur collars, coats with fur collars sewn on, and a giant mink coat (passed down from a great-aunt). I don’t wear it as much as I like, not necessarily due to the stigma though – more like I don’t want to get my fur all stinky in a smoky bar or whatever. It’s so expensive to clean! Plus, Nashville doesn’t really get cold enough to justify a mink. No idea why the previous owner had it – she lived in Kentucky lol.

    With that being said, I’m not really a fan with the modern fur industry and as long as you don’t need it for warmth/survival, I think people should stick with faux. Or vintage, of course. It just seems so wasteful to not use the vintage stuff – I mean, the animal already died. Destroying the fur isn’t going to magically make everything better, you know?ReplyCancel

  • ParisGrrl - The anti-fur campaigns are so strong in America that it was a bit jarring when I moved to Europe and saw (real) fur for sale and being worn everywhere. I’m neither condoning horrific mistreatment of animals nor denying anyone’s right to wear fur if they wish, but I have to admit I have mixed feelings about new fur coats, especially those in exotic pelts, or where that the animals were raised exclusively for their fur. Yet I also have issues with the extreme measures that certain anti-fur groups have taken, when they attack individuals or destroy their personal property. Especially in the case of vintage fur, I have no problem wearing and enjoying it. Except for those fox stoles with the faces still intact–those are creepy….ReplyCancel

  • Lizz - Oh, I love it!!! I’ve been wanting to make one using the tutorial from Colette – there was some amazing Tissavel (faux) fur on sale at Emma One Sock last November but I didn’t have it in my budget and it’s now gone. :-( I’ll keep checking local stores for one that feels super soft.ReplyCancel

  • Kittee Berns - I don’t think wearing fur is ever fashionable, even vintage. Animals are tortured and killed for their fur and by wearing it, you send a message that this practice is OK. Even if the animal was killed many years ago.ReplyCancel

  • Maureen - I love vintage fur – I have several coats that I inherited and a couple more that I am hoping will come to me. They are incredibly warm. When the thermometer hits -29 celcius, I’m glad I have fur. For modern fur? I would love to have a modern fur coat, but I think I enough already. I prefer coats made of beaver, mouton (sheep), muskrat (water rats) or mink. Why those ones? because they reproduce like crazy. I don’t force my opinions on anyone and I would hope to have the same courtesy extended to me.

    To my way of thinking everyone who decries wearing fur needs to also become vegan, vow to never wear leather, gives up their down duvet and down filled jacket (because down comes from dead geese) and stop wearing silk (made from silk worms). They should also be aware that the synthetic furs are made from fibers derived from petroleum. Significant energy is expended to create those fibers.

    The fur fashion industry supports the livelihood of aboriginal and non-native trappers. For them it is not just money but a way of life. Many traplines are handed down generation to generation. It part of the culture of the people.

    I apologize if I have offended anyone, but it is not a simple issue.ReplyCancel

  • Rebecca - I live in Canada’s Arctic and fur is a way of life up here. It is so cold and the seal skin mitts my sister made for me are the only ones that have ever kept my hands warm. The Inuit do not waste any part of the animal, be it seal, caribou or polar bear. They hunt to live. So up here buying a pelt to sew with feeds a mans family and that makes me feel good. I love my mitts and the fur on my parka but would be careful wearing them down south so as not to offend anyone.ReplyCancel

  • Brumby - I would not buy a modern fur, but have admired vintage furs, and do own a vintage fur neck wrap. However I do believe my ‘anti modern’ stance to be pretty hypocritical, I wear leather shoes, have a business selling leather products, and eat meat occasionally too. Why do I therefore consider it acceptable for a cow or goat or sheep to die for me, but not a mink, or fox, or chinchilla? Is that not akin to deciding some animals lives are more important than others?ReplyCancel

    • Sunni - Very good point too! Especially the leather shoes bit, which I wouldn’t have thought of if you hadn’t brought it up. Even leather belts – I mean, who doesn’t have one of those?ReplyCancel

  • K-Line - So pretty! I wear fur all the time. Most of it is vintage – one piece is new (and that’s probably the one I wear most often). I eat meat. I wear leather. I live in Canada. My personal take is that, if I choose to use animals to benefit me re: eating, it seems hypocritical to avoid wearing them – esp. as I live in one of the coldest climates in the world. I don’t condone animal cruelty. If I could ensure that everything I eat and wear were ethically produced, I would. So I keep looking for best alternatives, recognizing that vegetarianism is not for me. Great question.ReplyCancel

  • Nanci - I’m a painter. Stumbled into this lovely blog by way of posing the question why people don’t sew anymore… and it’s heartening to see that yes indeed, some folks do! I have a 40″s vintage Singer in a cabinet I restored, and I’ve been debating whether I should try and sell it. I have done a LOT of sewing in my time, but my 20-something daughter has no interest. Now- I’m thinking- keep it, even though I also have a 80″s Elna portable. Too much nostalgia- was my grandmother’s and my mom’s and runs like a tank. Local repair guy said- this thing would sew through leather, and I think it has in the past! (Maybe potential grandchildren will get the bug in a fit of retro-chic!?)
    Also, thanks for the image of the fur collar. Have been hanging on to two lovely grey rabbit fur pelts for decades. Probably found at someone’s estate sale. Now I know what I’m going to do with them too! Colorado gets plenty cold enough. ThanksReplyCancel

    • Sunni - So glad! And I do believe that sewing is making a very big come back! Definitely keep your sewing machines, pull them out and have fun revisiting the craft! Yay!ReplyCancel

  • Becky - I don’t think I’d wear it myself….not really my style. I’m more of a leather girl. One of my absolute favorite coats is a vintage 70s leather one that my mom handed down to me– I’ve been wearing it since I was a teenager in the transitional seasons, despite the fact that the sleeves are too short for me!ReplyCancel

  • Sassy T - Lol re your husband saying it’s dated. It’s actually the converse. It’s all about faux fur and leather. Looks absolutely fab on you.ReplyCancel

  • Erika - I am very anti-fur for reasons that have already been described above but I will summarize. Though I can certainly understand that it would be wasteful to throw out antique or vintage items, I think that even vintage fur continues to glamorize the cruelty in the fur industry today. It is a very inhumane and totally unnecessary industry and I can’t believe it’s any better now then it was in the past. To think otherwise is to be naive. Additionally, even if it was cruelty done in the past, is that really something you want as a representation of yourself?

    I would highly recommend you watch the documentary The Witness. You can watch it online here: http://www.tribeofheart.org/sr/sr_witscreeningroom_english.htm
    This isn’t put out by PETA and is not meant merely to shock. It isn’t only about the fur industry but I remember that sticking out the most to me.ReplyCancel

  • Rachel - Personally I don’t have a strong opinion about fur, but there is one thing about it all that confuses me slightly – When I was watching project runway last year there was on episode where Tim Gunn made a point of asking a contestant whether the fur he was using was fake or real as they were a fur free show. Which I have no problem with. However, how come they are more than happy for contestants to buy leather hides for their sewing? What’s the difference?
    I can understand the difference between leather and fur of endangered animals etc, but there are other furs that could be farmed the same way as leather.ReplyCancel

    • Sunni - I have to admit, I do agree with you here. Sort of a double standard and definitely presents the same dilemma that Brumby brought up.ReplyCancel

  • bonita - ~ * ♥ * ~

    I love your collar Sunni ~ I think it’s pretty and to be perfectly honest, I have no problems wearing vintage fur ~ I actually wrote a post about it here:
    http://www.depictthis.net/2011/08/my-fur-confession-outfit-forty-three.html

    xox,
    bonita of Depict This!
    ~ * ♥ * ~ReplyCancel

  • Tracey Wirth - Hey you changed your background! It looks great! Love the fur!ReplyCancel

  • Jayne - I miss my fur collar on my winter coat. I had it since I was in 8th grade (1970 ish) and it plain kept me warm during the Great Lakes winters. I would remove it from one coat to the next as the coats wore out; the fur collar kept on doing its job. If you’re looking to utilize resources efficiently, a vintage fur collar may be the way to go.
    I would agree that fur is one example of greed entering into yet another aspect of our (un)conscious living. I still miss the warmth of my fur collar.ReplyCancel

  • Sarah - I’m not quite sure how to feel about fur. I’ve been a vegetarian my whole life, but I love and own a fair bit of real leather. There’s something about the feel of real fur that weirds me out, but I love fun-fur, and don’t mind if it looks like the real thing. As with eating meet, I think I’ll leave it in the category of something I don’t do, but I’m not bothered by other people doing. To each their own, and everyone has their own moral standpoint that is just as valid to them as mine is to me.ReplyCancel

  • RB - IMO, I don’t think fur, vintage or otherwise, should be worn as fashion. Ditto for leather. I don’t think the fact that the animals were killed long ago makes it “okay.”

    As for “everyone who decries wearing fur needs to also become vegan,” etc., yeah, that would be nice if everyone stopped eating animals as well (I don’t anymore). But the fact is that people are full of conflicting ideas and beliefs. The person who points a finger and says “you’re not being consistent” is living in a glass house. We all have some cognitive dissonance. But trying to make some pro-animal choices is better than doing nothing. (IOW, while I’d prefer Project Runway to be leather-free as well as fur-free, I still appreciate the fur-free.)

    What I don’t accept, though, is the livelihood of aboriginal and non-native trappers being more important than the humane treatment of animals. Putting people out of work isn’t great, but continuing a cruel industry just to avoid unemployment is ludicrous. If that argument held water, we’d still have slavery in America.ReplyCancel

  • Fashion & Necessity - [...] S and I were having a discussion on the fur topic again. This after I had posted about my vintage fur collar. He brought up a question that I found [...]ReplyCancel