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23-12-2003
  1
rising star
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
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When is the best time to buy a mink coat... after christmas or should I wait towards the spring ? Would retailers really offer deep discounts on high quality mink coat if I wait off season ? The store I went to said their coats were 40% off but I have a feeling they just raised the prices so they could offer such discounts.

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23-12-2003
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Depends on where you go...a lot of the major department stores mark down fur in the spring but then pack them up until the next season. Since the styles in those stores don't change that frequently, they never have to really mark them down.

A lot of the designer (trend) fur stores mark their furs down because they need to clear their inventories for spring.

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24-12-2003
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Thought this article might be of interest to you. Good luck!!

(copied and pasted from www.********* )

*********


Think Mink. That Touch of Mink. Make Mine Mink. What goes better together than movie stars and mink? A mink coat has been an incomparable symbol of luxury and glamour and status and security -- not to mention warmth and sensuality -- for the better part of the past 100 years. Since selective breeding on farms began around the turn of the twentieth century, mink quality increased greatly, along with availability. Mink coats have seen their trends, especially in the last 60 years, and not all of them have been good, according to some critics. Nevertheless, mink continues to be the most popular fur sold in the world. In the U.S., garments made from ranch-raised mink account for some 75 to 80 percent of all coats sold. When a woman purchases her first fur coat, it's almost always a mink. She knows it will make her feel fabulous for more years than it will take to outgrow two or three automobiles, homes and perhaps even her spouse.
For years, women were trained to buy a standard mink coat at a standard price. That changed about 20 years ago, when both more expensive designer labels entered the market and coats made from less expensive Russian mink pelts were sold internationally. The concept of "the right price" or even of value became confusing.

Today there is some kind of mink to fit (nearly) every budget, whether you're buying that investment coat, just a little fashion jacket, or you're having your first fling with mink and buying a wisp of a knitted scarf. The plethora of possibilities is positively dizzying, so how are you to know when you're buying the right quality for the right garment and getting value for your money?

For some of us, the image of Marilyn in mink or Bette Davis or Joan Crawford sparked a love affair with those precious pelts and inspired us to forever hold them on a pedestal. But if you ever opened a newspaper in the 1980s, you got a glimpse of the heyday of the $1,995 commercial coat that did its best to knock mink off that pedestal. Wealthy women complained that mink had lost its status, and "Why should I wear mink, when my cleaning lady can afford it?" Was mink no longer fashionable?

Women soon learned that those $1,995 minks weren't quite the deal they were promised, as quality of both pelts and craftsmanship were suspect. The early 1990s were a time of austerity in appearance, and the 1980s glut of furs was embarrassing. Then the supply of mink pelts on the world market shrunk. In the mid- to later-1990s, fur became, once again, a hot commodity in the fashion industry, and prices began to rise. Designers today are taught to think of fur -- mink included -- as just another fashion textile and perform amazing technological feats with it, including knitting, dyeing brilliant colors, tanning its leather side so it doesn't need a lining, reversing it like shearling, perforating patterns in it to look like lace, and even using burn-out techniques to make it look like velvet. Mink is back, and those "in the know" appreciate its modern incarnation that eschews cookie-cutter silhouettes and instead embraces individuality.

And still, confusion about price, quality, labels and value remains. Why do similar-looking mink coats cost $7,000, $17,000 and even $27,000?


First decide how much you want to spend. As a general rule, buy the most coat you can afford. That means, if you can't afford a good quality mink, opt for a great quality sheared beaver. If you can afford an excellent mink, buy it without wondering if youĆre just paying more for the same coat that sells for less across town. There really is a difference in quality.

But to be sure, expect to spend some time doing research -- real foot research, entering at least five different fur salons and checking out the quality and prices. If you can afford a very nice, $10,000 mink, go to several stores and compare what you can get for your money. And this part is very important: don't just go to department store fur salons. In the U.S. today, with the exception of Neiman Marcus (which is independently run along with its sister store, Bergdorf Goodman), almost all department store fur salons are leased out and run by the same fur company based in New York City. There is not a lot of difference in selection between, say, a Saks Fifth Avenue, Marshall Field and Bloomingdale's fur salon. Venture to independent stores, many of which are still owned and operated by the families who bear their names. Explore all your options.

Once you're at the salon, prepare to get up-close with your target. PUT YOUR HANDS ON THE MINK. Touch is as important as appearance in determining mink quality, even in knit mink.


--Glide the side of your hand firmly along the mink, both with and against the "grain", or the way the hair falls. Is it soft and silky with a fine luster, consistent length of guard hairs (the longer ones on top) and even-textured underfur (the thicker lower layer of mink)? Stay away from a spikey appearance or bristly feel and mink that looks clumpy or tufty.

--What is the country of origin of the mink? This information is required by law to be listed on the hangtag of every fur garment. If it's not there, move on to another store.

--Where was the garment manufactured? This information is also required by law to be on the hangtag. Most furs are made in China today. North American made furs cost more, and European furs are even more pricey.

--Ask to see the inside of the coat or jacket, if youĆre buying one with a lining. Most mink garments are finished with an open hem at the bottom of the lining for exactly this purchase. Typically a sales associate might spread the mink out on the floor (don't worry, this is not disrespectful nor will it harm the garment) with the lining side up, then lift the lining. Here you will view the opposite side of the actual mink fur, which is the leather side to which each hair of the fur is attached by Mother Nature. Check out the construction of the coat. If it was made with the let-out process (each mink pelt is sliced into tiny stripes, which are then sewn together in an elongated form to create the traditional striped look of mink coats), you can see how clean the stitches are, if there is much fur caught in the stitches. Generally the cleaner the craftsmanship, the better.

When checking out this underside of the coat, also ask how much leather was included. The more tiny strips of leather that are used to space out between the strips of mink, the less expensive the garment should be. Inexpensive garments actually look striped with leather. The best mink coats in the world use no leather in the let-out process.

Oh, and if the garment is undyed, in its natural color state, the leather side should be a creamy off-white color. If a coat hangtag makes no mention of dyeing or coloring, and you see dyed leather, move on, because something's wrong.

--Does the garment carry a designer label? These days, designers are more careful about what they put their names on than in the 1970s, when designer toilet paper was the joke. In the past few seasons, we've seen designers become more involved with the furs that carry their names. You'll pay more for a designer-label coat for its fashion, but also because a designer endorsement offers a certain assurance of quality.

--How many pelts are in the garment? You don't need the number, but remember that the greater amount of raw material used to make the coat, the greater the cost. This can be deceptive. Sometimes short coats with wide sweeps and huge collars or hoods can actually contain more pelts than long, narrow coats.

-- Did any special processing go into making the coat, such as dyes or tanning of the leather side to make it reversible? Technology is great and the fashions it creates are wonderful, but it does add $$$.

-- Does it carry a pelt label, such as Blackglama, Saga or NAFA Gold? Garments with pelt labels offer another endorsement of the quality of pelts and therefore cost more. But what do they mean?


Pelt labels indicate the origin of the mink and its superior quality. The most popular labels come from farmer cooperatives or marketing associations representing the farmers that raise and sell mink. They are NAFA (North American Fur Association), the American Legend mink cooperative, and Saga Furs of Scandinavia.

While mink farming originated in the U.S., the majority of the world's mink supply comes from Denmark, Finland, Oslo and Norway, so expect to see the Saga label more often. There are some basic differences between North American and Scandinavian mink. These are generalizations and by no means characterize each and every mink coat. According to furriers interviewed for this story, Scandinavian mink tends to be larger and thicker with more guard hair, while North American mink tends to have a shorter nap, with less guard hair, meaning a less thick fur.

Two of the three pelt marketing associations/cooperatives have more than one label representing their mink.

Since ********* does not endorse any particular pelt label and believes each has its merits, we have presented the same series of questions to all three. Here are their answers:


How many mink do you sell, and what percentage of the mink pelts sold worldwide at auction do they represent?
Saga: Saga Furs is a not-for-profit marketing organization representing the four Scandinavian countries that produce over 50 percent of the world's mink. This year the production number will be over 16 million pelts. The international fur manufacturing community purchases the mink from Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden, and the coats are available in all of the better fur retailers, department stores, specialty stores, designer boutiques and catalogs.

American Legend: American Legend is a cooperative of mink farmers who market their pelts through the Seattle Fur Exchange. We sell approximately 2.7 million mink representing approximately 10 percent of the world's production.

NAFA: North American Fur Association represents Canadian and American fur farmers and trappers whose product is marketed through North American Fur Auctions (formerly the Hudson's Bay Company originally established in 1670). Members of the Association produce approximately 50 percent of the North American ranched mink crop. This represents roughly eight percent of the world mink crop.


What labels do your mink carry, and what do they signify?

Saga: There are two labels for Scandinavian mink. There is the Saga label, which is identified as the best quality skins after the grading process, and Saga Royal, which is awarded to the top 10 percent of the Saga skins. In addition to the label, there is the newly developed Saga hangtag, which is a four-color brochure that discusses the Scandinavian values that go into producing the world's finest mink. The Saga labels are recognized by consumers all over the world as a unique quality indication adding value to the garment.

American Legend: Blackglama signifies the finest ranch-raised dark [black -- ed.] mink in the world. American Legend signifies the finest ranch-raised mutation mink in the world. LEGEND signifies the finest fur garments sold in North America.

NAFA: Our previous brand names for ranch mink sold through Hudson's Bay included American Ultra and Canada Majestic Mink. These labels were integrated four years ago into the new NAFA Gold brand. This was done to simplify our marketing message for consumers as well as to allow us to take advantage of a new graphic approach to our branding message. At the same time, we were able to integrate new technology into the manufacturing of our label itself.

The NAFA Gold label is the only fur label in the world to include a special fiber that is visible under black light. This combined with our serial number allows the consumer to verify that the label is legitimate and not counterfeit, issues that many consumers around the world are highly interested in.

NAFA Gold is awarded only to the finest of our producers' crop. The percentage awarded this prestigious label can vary, however overall less than five percent of all mink garments produced in the world will be privileged enough to have a NAFA Gold label.


Why do you consider your mink to be the best mink in the world? Please offer descriptive terms that characterize the mink.

Saga: Our strict grading and sorting regulations ensure consistent texture and color, even in the large quantities of skins that are produced. Our expert skin graders include such parameters as hair length, density, silkiness, resilience, color and even the texture of the individual fibers. The length and density of the guard hairs is what gives Scandinavian mink its special appeal.

American Legend: These are a few of the most important reasons why our mink are the finest in the world: historical mink genetics; our mink are fed a very nutritious diet; our mink receive proper humane care; and our producers follow environmental practices. All of these factors enable the North American producer to raise the finest quality mink in the world.

A description of our mink is dense underfur and fine, silky guard hair with a light, supple and unblemished leather. This distinguishes the North American mink.

NAFA: NAFA Gold Mink is considered to be the best in the world due to its short, plush nap and fine, silky texture. This combined with clarity of color and blemish-free hide constitutes a superior quality mink. Short-napped, dense underwool is a characteristic that North American mink has pioneered. It is the result of genetics and superior animal husbandry techniques.


What should consumers look for when shopping for a high quality mink pelt? What do you think consumers should expect to pay for your mink garments at retail?

Saga: The consumer should look for a Saga label that will guarantee them the finest mink in the world. The weight of the garment as well as the length and density of the guard hairs, the color and clarity of the pelts should also be used by the consumer in selecting a garment.

American Legend: The consumer should look for one of our labels. The mink should be soft, silky and have a dense fur.

NAFA: As mink is sold by international auction, price levels can and do vary. With supply remaining stable around the world and new markets increasing their demand for North American ranch mink, we expect North American mink prices to continue to be relatively strong. This is necessary as the costs involved in providing superior quality mink pelts are much higher and require a higher rate of return for the farmer's investment.

Clearly the most important thing for a consumer to consider is the retailer she is purchasing the garment through. A reliable retailer will explain and demonstrate the difference between mink of different origin. They will also take time to explain the differences not only in price but appearances between male versus female mink garments.

There is a great deal to be learned about how a mink garment is made, before one can adequately judge the quality of manufacturing in a given garment. However the quality of mink is readily apparent once the consumer is aware of the short nap of the underwool and its tight by the top hair. When these characteristics are combined with a silky texture, most consumers can very easily identify a fine quality NAFA mink pelt.

Manufacturing techniques, i.e. let-out, pelt-on-pelt or reversible are a matter of design esthetics and can equally use male or female pelts. The pro and cons of these design choices are best discussed with a knowledgeable retailer. It is easily apparent that the let-out process is a more labor intensive approach to manufacturing. Completely reversible garments require much more expensive tanning procedures and very high quality, uniform pelts. This ultimately leads to more expensive garments. Shearing, plucking and dyeing are all procedures that are used extensively today, and also contribute to higher processing costs. The many variables make a discussion of retail prices almost impossible.

Regardless of manufacturing or tanning techniques, fine quality pelts are the basic building blocks for high quality garments that are lightweight and durable. Identifying the origin of the product in a garment is easy given the US labeling requirements. Checking for the producer label will further verify the quality as well as the origin of the garment. The final check for authenticity is to examine the NAFA Gold label under a black light to be absolutely sure of quality.


Where are most of your pelts made into garments, and how does this influence price? Should consumers equate superior quality with manufacturing in North America and Europe vs. China and elsewhere?

Saga: There are between 300 and 400 buyers attending sales where Saga mink pelts are sold. Pelts are purchased from all over the world with the largest amount being shipped to China. China not only produces for its domestic market but also is the largest producers for both North America and Italy. China combined with Greece supply the majority of the labor for coats that are sold in North America with limited but fine workmanship being produced in the U.S.

American Legend: While Hong Kong/China produce more affordable garments, the finest manufacturing done for mink garments is in North America. Other countries in Europe and Asia are improving but are still not at the same level as the North American manufacturer.

NAFA: The quality of manufacturing can vary significantly. In the past it was commonly thought that garments manufactured in Hong Kong were lower quality, however that is not necessarily the case any longer. American consumers can expect to see fine quality manufacturing techniques in garments made in Canada, the United States, Italy, Greece and Hong Kong. The vast majority of fur garments manufactured today come from Greece and Hong Kong due to lower labor costs. Quality however can vary dramatically regardless of country of manufacture.

It is important for consumers to carefully examine garments and how they are put together to understand quality. Looking under the lining of most fur garments will allow you to see how tightly sewn individual seams are, how "clean" the sewing is i.e. loose threads etc. Consider the facings, are they generous or are they non-existent. Checking the lining edges around the front and bottom will show how the garment has been finished. Details such as the quality of the lining itself, the kind of fastenings used, all will tell a story about the quality of the finished garment. Extra attention to these finishing touches all speak of higher quality production techniques, which of course increases the cost of the garment.


What colors of mink do you sell and in what quantity? Which is most popular? (Unusual shades of mink, such as the nonstandard grays, creams, tans and white shades are often known as mutations, since they are genetic mutations and rarely found in the wild but have been bred on farms.)

Saga: There are nine major natural mink colors produced in Scandinavia. They are: Scanblack, Mahogany, Scanbrown, Scanglow, Pastel, Silverblue, Sapphire, Pearl and White. In addition there are some limited natural mutation colors, plus an unlimited number of fashion colors that can be dyed.

American Legend: Black mink is most popular, and we sell 1.4 million annually in addition to 700,000 Brown, 150,000 Dark Brown, 350,000 Blue Iris and 100,000 various mutations.

NAFA: Consumers are always demanding more choices. Mink producers have been able to raise many different colors of mink, starting with the first color phase which is known as Demi Buff or Wild Type. This red-brown is most similar to the original coloring of mink in the wild. After thousands of generations of mink, we now produce a full of range of colors. A very popular color, Black includes a Jet Black as well as Reddish Black. In addition to the Demi Buff/Wild type color there is also a Chestnut Brown known as Mahogany and a Pastel, which is camel color. Essentially two thirds of the mink crop can be found in the Black and Brown color families.

Far more limited quantities are available in the gray and mutation color groupings. The gray family includes Blue Iris, which a steel blue Gray, Sapphire which is a paler dove gray and Violet which is a very pale mink with blue undertones. In addition to this range there is a pure White mink as well a Pearl color which has a beige undertone. Blush Mink is again a very pale mink with a pinkish beige undertone. These are the basic colors but there can also be some unusual blends that are very limited in quantities. North American Fur Auctions offers the largest collection of blue/gray colors in the world, but this color grouping represents less than 1% of the total mink crop.

Not content with what nature has provided, we now include every possible color available from hot pink all the way through to Navy blue. All courtesy of the tanneries and their dye pots. Truly something for everyone.

Color is a matter of choice and cultural differences often dictate which colors are preferred in a given market. Italian consumers vastly prefer Demi Buff or Wild Type colors, while Japan preferred Black Mink. Today designers are having a lot of fun creating garments that reflect lifestyles and color choices are left totally up to the consumer.


What other info you believe consumers should take into consideration when buying a mink garment?

Saga: The Consumer should look at the color, the weight and feel of the coat. If all these factors seem right combined with a label or hangtag branding the pelts with a quality standard, then the quality of the garment should be guaranteed. Another factor that should influence the consumer is whether the coat is identified with a designer's name. Usually if a known designer is willing to put his name on a coat, this means that it is up to the designer's standards of fit and fashion.

American Legend: It is important that the consumer buy a garment from a reputable fur retailer who is knowledgeable about the different qualities of fur garments and look for a fur with our label, which will ensure they are buying the finest quality mink in the world.

NAFA: To paraphrase, "Quality is number one" when considering a fur garment. A fine quality NAFA mink will provide the consumer with a lightweight, durable garment that will feel good as well as look good. It is the basic building block for any kind of design, whether sheared and plucked or beautifully natural. While there are comparatively few garments made of NAFA Gold quality, the differences when seen and felt up close are significant and are well worth the premium.


Mink with different characteristics are often required by different designers, depending the design. Sometimes designers simply have their own preferences and stick with one type of mink for their entire career. Here are two examples:

Jerry Sorbara or Sorbara Furs, which sells exclusively at Neiman Marcus salons, strictly uses North American mink. "We look for low guard hairs, silky pelts with a lot of luster and pelts that are strong but lightweight. We also know the individual rancher we're buying from and his reputation for raising fine mink."

Sorbara explained the time-honored distinction between males and females by offering that female pelts are lighter weight , silkier and softer and therefore used for traditional garments. Male mink pelts are thicker and denser and right for shearing, dyeing and plucking according to a specific fashion design.

Sorbara's mink coats sell at Neiman Marcus for an average price of $17,000 and sometimes reach $20,000. They use absolutely no leather in the construction of let-out mink coats.

What does he believe consumers should look for when buying mink?

"Look for the quality of workmanship, for the mink's softness and silkiness; check where the skins come from, and check the lining to see how it was manufactured. Also consider who you're buying from. Don't buy a coat marked up just so it can be marked down to a sale price that is what the coat is worth to begin with. Some stores mark up coats to $25,000 just so they can always be on sale for $10,000, and then they're still overpriced."

Sherry Cassin of the Cassin label (she also co-founded the Trilogy label but no longer is involved with that firm) uses mink in making sportswear and accessories and often designs knitted mink. For this purpose, she always uses Saga mink. She calls this mink "beefier" than North American mink, which look "puny" when knitted.

Also, she prefers male Scandinavian mink to females for knitting, because they're even beefier and plusher, not "wimpy." She uses female mink for her black tie and bridal collections because it is lighter weight.

Cassin's designs can be found in specialty stores priced between $995 and $4,995 for anything from a small, full-mink capelet to a full-length woven mink coat. Knitted mink garments often cost less than traditional, full-skin mink garments because they combine another fabric in the knit.

Cassin is definitely not a traditional mink designer. At the core of her business is "the great third piece that everyone needs each season. Each fall, a woman needs her basic pants, turtlenecks and that fabulous third piece, whether it's outerwear or an accessory. These can be vests, ponchos, sweatshirts, mink with cashmere or silk sweaters or even crushable fur hats."

What does she think consumers should look for when determining mink quality in a knit fur garment?

"The same qualities hold for knitted mink than a traditional mink garment. Look for overall consistent hair height and luster, density and plush underwool. Then, the qualities you look for in a fine quality mink also apply: blow on the fur and look at the cotton-knit base to see if the knitting is consistent and even."


So just how much should you expect to spend for a respectable quality mink coat? Obviously there is no one right answer. No one interviewed for this article would offer a number. Buy the best mink you can afford, because it won't let you down. It's pretty safe to say you won't find a good quality mink coat for under $4,000. The bulk of the market seems to fall into the $5,000 to $10,000 category. If you're shopping at a department store, that means the sale price, not the original price. In general, a fine mink coat starts at $12,000 and can reach $50,000 if it uses a special construction technique and bears a designer label. And then there's that other category called Fendi, which just charges whatever the market will bear, seemingly without much relationship to quality or value.

Find a fur salon you can trust. Remember, you will probably build a relationship with that company by bringing your coat in for storage each summer. Do your research and become an expert yourself. Find the best mink coat your money can buy after looking at and comparing a lot of different coats at different stores. Don't let anybody talk you into a purchase; not only are you spending a good deal of money, you will likely be living with this coat for many years and don't want to cringe every time you look in the closet. Most importantly, buy the coat you fall in love with. Take care of it well, and it will never let you down.

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24-12-2003
  4
rising star
 
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That's a great article! I am looking at black glama , the quality of mink was incredible.

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24-12-2003
  5
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NEVER!!!

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25-12-2003
  6
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I agree. Fur is cruel.

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25-12-2003
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I'm from the north of Europe where fur is traditional. It looks good, feels great, it keeps you warm. It's also not ethically good, I know.

I know I've tried to stay strong and not buy fur, but I'm weak...

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25-12-2003
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I like the look of fur too. I figure you can always buy fake though... :grrr:

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25-12-2003
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Quote:
Originally posted by purplelucrezia@Dec 25th, 2003 - 7:18 pm
I like the look of fur too. I figure you can always buy fake though... :grrr:
Yes they do make very nice fakes nowadays!

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26-12-2003
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Fur is not ethical but leather is? I don't see much difference between the two. Animals are farmed for their skins too. Some people think that fur coats are too pretentious looking but that's a matter of personal taste.

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26-12-2003
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Quote:
Originally posted by Shahna@Dec 26th, 2003 - 1:20 am
Fur is not ethical but leather is? I don't see much difference between the two. Animals are farmed for their skins too. Some people think that fur coats are too pretentious looking but that's a matter of personal taste.
minks are raised to be killed for their fur.... leather is not collected in the same manner.

I will always be a fake wearer.....

Althought I saw the prettiest damn rabbit fur poncho at Neimans and almost died! but I would never do it.

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26-12-2003
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26-12-2003
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Quote:
Originally posted by lele+Dec 26th, 2003 - 10:45 am--><div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(lele @ Dec 26th, 2003 - 10:45 am)</div><div class='quotemain'><!--QuoteBegin-Shahna@Dec 26th, 2003 - 1:20 am
Fur is not ethical but leather is? I don't see much difference between the two. Animals are farmed for their skins too. Some people think that fur coats are too pretentious looking but that's a matter of personal taste.
minks are raised to be killed for their fur.... leather is not collected in the same manner. [/b][/quote]
I'm not sure what you mean... Fur and leather both are "collected" when the animal dies/is killed. The hides are both processed so that the pelts/skins can be transformed into clothing. What's the difference? I suppose you could argue that in the case of leather, most of it comes from cows which are eaten as well. I'm not sure anyone eats mink meat. Of course, strictly speaking, no on NEEDS to eat meat. But I'm not sure you can make an ethical distinction between fur and leather. It seems to me that if you feel you can wear one, you can certainly wear the other.

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26-12-2003
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maybe you cannot make an ethical distinction but I can..... an animal purely raised for their coats is one thing. i see leather as byproducts of human food production yes. I have hope and faith that there are still humane farms as I drive across the midwest and see farm after farm with cows on pastures which is quite different from this picture of a fox farm and I am not sure why they even call them farms....i make a real effort to buy from free range grocers and never buy cheap leather in the hopes that it is collected from reputable farms and in humane ways.

and things are changing... " Austria and the U.K. have banned fur factory farms, and the Netherlands began phasing out fox and chinchilla farming in April 1998.14 In the U.S., there are approximately 324 mink farms left, down from 1,027 in 1988.15 In a sign of the times, supermodel Naomi Campbell was denied entry to a trendy New York club because she was wearing fur. Said the club’s owner, “I really love animals, and I wanted us to be the good guys.”
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26-12-2003
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maybe people see my knowledge as a complete contradiction and i can understand that.... but i think there is a difference in animals that are raised and used almost completely and animals that are raised in conditions like these and their fur is the only thing used.

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