Reality television star Kim Kardashian-West recently revealed that she will be remaking all her natural fur garments into faux-fur replicas – a material which people are phasing out of everyday life. This is a clear rejection of natural fur in favour of synthetic alternatives by Kardashian-West. Contrastingly, MMA star Conor McGregor recently posted on his Instagram describing his two “handmade” Gucci mink coats as “iconic” “art pieces” which he will eventually pass down to his children and grandchildren. McGregor has decided to maintain vintage natural fur, which causes no damage to the environment. Both celebrities’ furs are vintage, however, it’s become evident that being vintage is not enough, it’s what you do with these furs that impinges on not only your viewpoints, but at the very least, planet earth.
Before delving into the root of the issue surrounding Kardashian-West and McGregor’s pronouncements, it’s important to highlight the obvious: wearing vintage fur garments is more environmentally sound than remaking them into faux fur alternatives made from plastics – a major pollutant which, through washing and micro plastics ends up in our oceans and landfill. This reality automatically puts Kardashian-West in opposition to today’s ‘no plastic’ world attitude, so, why should it (and is it) being commended that a famous figure has taken the decision to remake natural garments with petroleum-based non-renewable toxic chemical emitting synthetics? Doesn’t that defeat the point of banning single-use plastic (straws, cups, packaging and so on) and regulating all polluting industries?
Since climate change entered the zeitgeist, great efforts have been made to ensure that the planet suffers less through plastic waste. Yet somehow, we’re not only meant to accept and understand the fact that Kardashian-West has achieved something ‘good’ by turning to plastic, but we’re meant to reward her for it. There have been numerous comments made on Kim’s Instagram photo after she first announced her decision. Praises and thanks were showered upon Kardashian-West for her plastic ways, which is ironic as an overproduction of plastic has unequivocally contributed to extreme weathers whereby Kardashian-West almost fell victim to when ferocious wildfires turned much of her Calabasas neighbourhood to ash. Nonetheless, Kardashian-West’s followers are showing gratitude for the belief that faux fur is an ‘ethical’ alternative to natural fur, environmental impact aside. Situations like this make you question how celebrities might be giving up their own beliefs and morals in favour of support from the public and from pressures of social media. It begs to ask the question, where do these celebrities who are in the public eye leave people who look up to them and become influenced by them? It is irresponsible of celebrities to promote ‘things’ that they themselves aren’t convinced with, especially in a situation like Kim’s just to avoid a social media backlash and gain momentary recognition. The short-term positive PR will be enough for Kardashian-West while the long-term high-costs of her decisions will impact human health, the environment, wildlife, our food chain, our groundwater, and future generations forever. However, Khloe and Kourtney continue to wear fur, especially in recent episodes of Keeping Up with the Kardashians; Kris wrapped herself in fur for the launch of her beauty collaboration poster with Kylie Cosmetics; Kendall’s special birthday suit was a Saks Potts fur coat; and Kylie’s home interior is heavily embellished by fur.
On the other hand, Conor McGregor has done the complete opposite with his vintage fur garments. He posted a carousel of images on his Instagram, explaining what his fur garments mean to him, how to store and utilise them so that they can be maintained, and what he plans on doing with them in the future. Notably, passing them down to the next generation. Not only does the passing down of clothes have sentimental impact on a personal level, but on a global level, it reduces waste – of which the fashion industry is a huge contributor. As the quality of natural fur is much more superior to any plastic or lab-grown alternatives, furriers, designers and craftspeople continue to find indefinite uses for the material no matter the shape or size of the garment they up-cycle from. Fur is an integral part of fashions circular economy rejecting the fast-fashion culture Kardashian-West is perpetuating and promoting. Research in the form of a content analysis of the comments on various different chat forums regarding vintage fur appears to be a consistent reason as to why vintage fur shouldn’t be disregarded — purchasing fur second-hand, having it passed down, or being given to as a gift is deemed acceptable as it ‘respects’ the animal more than letting the garment decay in the closet. A second trend was that vintage fur is a more sustainable option than purchasing a new, plastic fur coat which will only be worn and used for a month before it gets thrown into a landfill. As seen on Vogue’s “Am I the Only One Who Feels Guilty About Wearing Fur?” article, the writer accurately mentions that the fashion industry needs to find ways to cut down on resource use, and that we as consumers “should reduce our own carbon footprint by enjoying our favourite items longer and recycling as best as we can.”
Whether you’re on the side of Kardashian-West or McGregor, there are two principles that can be agree on. One, the debate between natural fur and plastic alternatives is polarising, and two, the decision should be left to the consumer as it is a matter of personal choice. What Conor McGregor has expressed with his decision to invest in natural fur garments, is an unapologetic proudness of owning two original, one of a kind, Gucci mink garments. The symbolic meaning behind each garment describes the story of his fights, and the journey that his furs have taken with him. He explains that they’re “never to be made again” which further fortifies that fur creations in general will never be crafted the same, as they are all original, unique, and in the words of Conor McGregor, “art pieces now.” He continues to say that he’ll pass them on to his children’s children, which reinforces the longevity of fur, and the beauty of it being able to carry so much history and ability to create new memories.
In today’s world, there seems to be a double standard on when using plastic is acceptable and where it isn’t. The endeavours taken to get rid of plastic seems forgotten whenever fur is involved – on the contrary – it’s celebrated. Turning a blind eye to a natural material like fur only adds to the ever-growing plastic problem. The beauty of fur is the craftsmanship behind each piece which can never be the same narrative behind plastic garments. Fur, vintage or new, has shown that it has a place in society, and it’s a matter of personal choice rather than following the trends.