Fur and fashion: the revolution is coming! »
On Sunday, Feb. 6, the awesome Joshua Katcher (Discerning Brute, Pinnacle) presented “Fur & Fashion: Decoding and Harnessing the Dialect of Fashion,” with a Q&A including the brilliant John Bartlett, and the amazing Leanne Mai-Ly Hilgart of Vaute Couture. There is sooooo much to be said, I can only skim the points.
Katcher ran through the symbols and psychology of fashion, connecting what is worn by the models and their demeanor, and how they invoke our need for approval! As they look at us, all gorgeous and disdainful, we need their acceptance, to be like them, to wear fur, contribute to inhumane and unethical behaviors! And we’re uncool unless we give in! YES!!! They subconsciously make you want to be evil! He points out that skins were once used for survival, which is no longer the case in our culture, and how there is disconnect between animals and their fashionable skins in many folks psychology. Example: Terry Richardson hugging a dog while wearing a rabbit-fur coat. Creepy!
John Bartlett, Joshua Katcher, Leanne Mai-Ly Hilgart
To summarize Katcher’s points on tactics, wardrobe is used as a weapon of intimidation, as in the military trends. And the aesthetic laws put top designer togs in a higher social class, and uniforms such as a maid’s on the bottom. The psychological attacks are quite astounding! Our love of a good villain is used against us and I surmise that this may be one reason why the allure of CrueAnna deWintour is so strong! Joshua points out that the editorials and designers’ campaigns portray a society that has access to the unknown. Often-used dark, occult imagery are ever so attractive. He also notes that as fashion editors continue to cover fur, they intentionally do not cover the whole story.
While the furriers have deep pockets and use their financial influence on the struggling young and naïve designers, the ethical folks do not have the finances.
Joshua brought us through the points of how cruelly all the skins are procured. Much of this verified information can be found on PETA, Mercy for Animals, and the HSUS websites. In a nutshell, DO NOT TAKE FROM ANIMALS. And even more, humans seem to always make the exploitation into a greater hell in order to cut costs. The examples are irrefutable and we are accountable. Feathers and silk are a part of this. And sometimes fake fur is too! Look for the “skin” of the fake fur. It should not look like skin! Philip Lim 3.1 and Urban Outfitters have made this mistake. And many folks excuse this as a personal choice as opposed to social justice.
Skins from kombucha-processing, recycled material from plastic bottles, and closed-loop manufacturing systems are all ways to ethically produce fashion. THE SOLUTIONS ARE THERE—but maybe a bit more costly than fur farms in China. And with John Bartlett (left) following in Stella McCartney’s glorious footsteps and then some by nixing wool and alpaca, the designers devoted to this cause are joined by an ICON!
According to Bartlett, “Next time I show, I want to show a fully vegan collection. I want to make sure there’s intention behind it. Over the past year, I have taken leather out of my collections, I will no longer use down and, hopefully by next fall, I will no longer use wool.” He is also actively participating with Pinnacle! The paper will be released for NY Fashion Week, but you can see PDFs here.
During the Q&A, someone asked how you should talk with friends who argue that wearing vintage fur is OK. While some answers were in more of the understanding and empathizing vein, Joshua zinged in with “A vintage Nazi uniform is still a Nazi uniform. You wear fur, you hate animals.” Like a shot to the heart!
When asked how designers can’t know about the horrors, John Bartlett answered, “They don’t understand why fur isn’t fabulous. [Many] consider fur as fabric. There is this incredible disconnect; it’s the same kind of disconnect as eating a hamburger.”
Always a concern is cost, and the ethical clothes are often pricey. Leanne Mai-Ly points out that her clothes are locally sourced as best possible and locally produced here in NYC, keeping her eye on quality and ethical accountability. Clothing should be seen as an investment, not disposable! I agree. Never thought about how the sweatshops are there to produce disposable clothing, which only makes that worker’s toil even more horrifying!
I sense a revolution—style-conscious, ethically inclined superheroes that can finally speak the language of the often oblivious and closed-minded fashion world! Clothes do make the man (and woman), and they can make him heard!
Tell us your favorite ethical designers and sites in the comments!
This review and the photos herein were brought to us by the talented and terrific Jeff Nesmith, an Alabama native thriving in Brooklyn. Designer, draw-er, writer, magazine producer, vegan fry-cook/biscuit-baker, and by day, the editorial production director for Real Simple magazine. He describes his site, welloiledmachinenyc.com, as always a work in progress; we think it’s ridiculously awesome.