October 20, 2010

Millinery Animal Use: Fur trimmed hat

Milliners have never been very good friends with animals. We used to use beaver to make the wool hoods but due to the popularity of hats in the 14th century beavers were being over used. Using beavers to make felt lasted until the 18th century because it was the preferred material. By the 1600s Europe had used an extraordinary supply of their own beavers and many began to look to America for the supply--and thus, exporting hats and wool began.

Independent hat makers were whittled down because of the big boom of factories, and to meet the factory supply, imports had to be made from further and further away. Needless to say, fashion has had a huge impact on the fur trade and the use of living creature as accessories should not even be an option anymore. We've made great advances in technology, different ways to replicate fur, different ways to get the texture and feel of faux  fur, and even better ways of keeping ourselves warm. Now that we have the knowledge of different insulation solutions, why do we need to use animals?

I began thinking about this when someone tried on this recent hat and asked me if the fur I used was real...and she seemed aghast when I told her it was, and she immediately put the hat down. On that note, my own practice: I do use Rabbit felt because it is the only wool I feel comfortable enough working in for my hats. The rabbits are shaved and only their underbelly is used for the wool. Beaver is a lot more expensive due to the great decline in that population. The fur that is used in my hats is strictly vintage.

It makes me very happy to see a lot of fashion is moving in the way of the FAUX. Elle magazine, after receiving a very upsetting letter about it from a reader, has printed a page dedicated to fur fashions 7 out of 10 of them are faux!

I am not a vegetarian, nor do I know if the beauty products I use are tested on animals, but I believe that I am working my way into finding out a better way to go about treating our furry friends the way they deserve to be treated...especially since I have a baby of my own.

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