I recently posted a link on social media to an article in Huffington Post that challenged the ethics of Canada Goose’s use of real coyote fur on their jackets. For the record, I am vehemently opposed to fur.
In the comments section, I kind of “got into it” with a follower who professed his love of fur and his support of Canada’s fur industry. This same guy also claimed he loved animals, as most people would. Since I’m a guy who owns two dogs, doesn’t eat meat and detests the use of fur for fashion, you can imagine the field day I could have with a back-and-forth in the thread of comments. Since then, it feels like I’m seeing more and more Canada Goose jackets on the streets of Manhattan, as if the universe is deliberately jabbing me in the ribs and cranking up the heat in my blood.
In the interest of keeping warm, real animal fur as a textile is an absolute non-essential. It is purely a style choice – a style choice that begins with the setting of crippling traps in the animal’s own environment, then continues with a killshot to the head before the animal is skinned for its fur.
Then there are fur farms where foxes, minks, lynxes and other animals are “bred” for their fur. These animals are often skinned while they’re still alive. Supporters of the industry rationalize with something like “It’s fine. They’re bred for that.” Once upon a time, America had a little labor industry that was enabled by enslaving an entire culture of sentient beings who were “bred” for picking cotton. This was perfectly fine with a lot of people until some enlightened, forward-thinking individuals got a conscience, tuned their moral compasses and dared to challenge a barbaric system.
In the case of Canada Goose, all of this is done so that the company can merely add a trim to their hoods. Again… Not essential to the warmth or performance of a good winter jacket. This is just a style choice. Whether through trapping or breeding, animals used for fur, like our beloved dogs, are sentient beings who experience pain, hunger, joy and fear. They are killed to support a Paleolithic notion of “fabulous.” Not fabulous.
Since I’m an animal-loving dog owner who doesn’t eat mammals, one might be tempted to brand me a hypocrite because I wear leather shoes. Here’s the thing about that: Though I don’t eat their meat, cows are used to feed a lot of people and our dogs. Other parts of the animal are used to make other edibles, both for humans and canines. And the hide is, of course, used for leather goods. Animals killed for fur are just killed for fur, nothing else.
Even with my own leathers, I continue to question and evolve. As of this writing, I own exactly twelve pairs of leather shoes or boots, three leather belts and one leather jacket. The jacket was something I bought nearly twenty years ago and something I would never buy today because I’d rather keep the dead animal quotient to as low a minimum as possible. In fact, I wear it so seldom that I’m tempted to give it to Housing Works, where I dropped off my leather pants years ago. To me, there’s a certain vulgarity to lots of leather. Leather shoes, leather boots, leather bags, leather jackets, leather furniture, leather car upholstry… I cut it where I can and pretty much keep it to shoes, which I do not purchase often at all. Progress, not perfection here. But, again, the cow is used for many other things that benefit both humans and animals. Fur and its absolute uselessness are in a league of their own.
I don’t wish to shame or antagonize anyone. As much as I’d like to, I don’t have the innate chutzpah to physically confront fur-wearers like individual animal rights activists and entire organizations do. It’s just not my nature. But I do get angry and I can write. Animals cannot speak for themselves, and as a human merely borrowing space on this rock until I die, I don’t think it’s my place to conquer and kill. Our place in the food chain is pretty secure right out of the gate. I rather see my purpose as a sharer, steward and guardian who does his best to do no harm.
In today’s connected market with consumers becoming more conscious and interested in where and how their clothes are made, transparency is king. Many fashion companies with savvy public relations are very transparent about their processes, with some even producing beautiful mini-documentary videos that tell the story of how their goods are made, from the gathering of the raw materials to the cutting and assembly of them to the finished product. Canada Goose, however, could never produce such content with total transparency. If they did, I imagine that people would be disgusted and quite turned off by the truth of what happens behind the curtain. Their success depends on the “ignorance-is-bliss” model of luxury marketing.
With that said, I will conclude this post with hope for more change and more conscientious consumption. Thank you for reading, thank you for thinking and thank you for (re)considering your choices when you take out your wallets.