The Forgotten Allure of Fur

Genuine fur clothing has become so taboo during the past 15 years or so that I don't remember the last time I saw an ad for a fur coat. Very few people today, it seems, dare to wear real fur. Each time I walk into my local Macy's I use the entrance right near the fur salon, and I have yet to see anyone in there other than the saleswomen. If a designer releases a fur item or a celebrity is spotted wearing fur, he/she receives a lot of bad publicity. 

That wasn't always the case. Before animal welfare groups such as PETA were formed and shed a light on the fur industry, people were blissfully unaware of how cruelly fur was farmed. For many decades, fur was seen as glamorous and coveted; the ultimate present a woman could receive from her suitor, back in the day, was often a fur coat. 

Luckily, faux fur has really taken off in the U.S. during the past 20 years (and as the owner of a couple of fake fur coats, I can attest that they're really toasty.) And the best part is they're cruelty free.

For better or for worse, here's a bunch of fur ads through the decades, from the site VintageAdBrowser (unless where otherwise noted.) I noticed they petered out after 1990. I present them not because I condone the fur trade, but simply because it's a vintage fashion trend, the likes of which I don't think we'll see coming around again anytime soon. 

The next two images are pages from the 1933 Spiegel catalog; even during The Great Depression, it seems, fur was being sold and as a matter of fact, virtually all of the coats I saw being advertised in the catalog contained fur. 

It's hard to believe people wore seal at one point. 

Fur manufacturers at one point had no problem getting celebrities to endorse their coats. 


  1. Fur has made somewhat of a comeback lately, which disturbs me. I know Duran Duran had real fur in their video Girl Panic, and I wrote to the band about it (no response). Also I think Kim Kardashian sort of ushered in this new love of fur, and I know Lady Gaga was under some scrutiny for possibly wearing fur (she never confirmed or denied if it was real or fake, but she did praise Kim K for her fur choices) and in 2006 Madonna bought a fur coat. Since I love her, I was really disappointed. I'm not sure why anyone would ever choose real over fake. Faux fur looks great. These ads are fabulous, but also make me sad. I'm glad most of us have moved past this phase of glamor.

    1. What people don't seem to grasp is that faux fur coats are actually very bad for the environment. I'm not arguing with the fact that there are problems in the fur industry, but faux fur coats break down very easily into micro pollutants which get into the ocean very quickly. One faux fur coat can kill thousands of fish.

  2. Amanda -- thanks for your comment. I did read that while real fur sales have declined in the U.S., they're on the rise globally. I agree that faux fur is hard to beat. It can be made to look and feel like real fur, or can be produced in funky colors (I have a red jacket that's really cool.) Not sure why celebs would choose the real thing, especially knowing that they will receive bad publicity.

  3. I think we're a little hypocritical when it comes to fur. I'm a meat eater and I'm not about to stop, so fur or leather doesn't bother me. I don't think a seal is better than a cow or pig. However, if there is a suitable substitute like the faux fur you mentoned, then sure why not. If there was a substitute for bacon that tasted just like it, I'd be all in.

  4. My mother wore fur all my life. She still has a white beaver fur jacket that belonged to my grandmother that I coveted as a child. I will say that fur keeps you the warmest, hands down.

    I've noticed that any fur, faux or real, makes people want to feel it. Every faux fur I've worn has been petted by my friends.

    I don't dare wear my full-length, faux mink in my hometown of Austin, Texas since I don't care to be shouted at.

    Thank you for the photos. :)


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