I’m having a little scroll through Instagram and I see lots of pictures people have posted of their picturesque winter escapades, I pause and almost press ‘like’ until something catches my eye which halts me clean in my tracks. The glinting of a Canada Goose logo. Ah, this means fur, not something I ‘like’ at all. Better scroll past that one. Look, I’m not the fashion police, I don’t usually go around telling people what they should and shouldn’t be wearing. But I will now.
In recent years fashion brand after fashion brand has renounced the use of fur including Stella McCartney and most recently Burberry. Marco Bizzarri of Gucci stated that a development in technology meant the quality of ethical alternatives meant there was “no need” for fur. And indeed faux fur options now populate the high street, and look lovely.
So why then has Canada Goose been on the rise? I was surrounded by it at school, and it has now started to creep its way into my university halls. Despite the fact that faux fur and other cruelty free fabrics can be just as effective and significantly cheaper than real fur, Canada Goose insists that its niche is to provide function to its clients not fashion. This seems an odd claim for a brand been described by Randy Harris (president of Trendex North America) as, “the uniform of the inner city aged 16-to-24 year olds”. There may have once been a place for fur as a combat of the cold, and Canada Goose may be trying to tie itself to “authenticity” and “tradition” by evoking these times but there is certainly no place for fur amongst the population it now finds itself catering to. Put some more layers on.
Make no mistake, fur trapping is not humane. It involves suffering. If you really aren’t convinced on this, take the case of Bella the dog who found herself caught in a coyote trap. Within minutes severe damage had been done. Her owner described the horrific scene, “she got into her mouth and her mouth was just a total mess. Her gums were all tore up and her teeth, there was 17 teeth cracked …10 [have got to] come out and they’re going to try to do some work on the other ones so that she can keep them.” Imagine then a coyote who is stuck in one of these traps for a whole night or maybe more only to then await death upon release. Yes, this trap described above is one of the ‘humane’ traps advertised on the Canada Goose website, which despite rubber and added spacing can still produce severe injury and distress.
Canada Goose and other brands which use coyote fur often use the justification of pest control. What this misses is the key fact that coyotes are coming closer to humans because we’ve moved closer to them. According to the Wildlife Land Trust, a far better way of managing our interactions with them is education on mutual coexistence and a technique called ‘hazing’. In fact, killing coyote parents leaves pups who have not been taught how to hunt effectively thus making them more likely to scavenge.
So then, this leaves us with very little practical reason to purchase non-cruelty free jackets. Why then are they becoming so common? As CEO Dani Reiss himself stated, Canada Goose is the Land Rover of clothing. Perhaps once a brand built on function, it has morphed into a status symbol, a luxury fashion brand. But even luxury can be ethical, Burberry’s chief executive even defined it as requiring social and environmental responsibility. Now that’s a trend I don’t mind getting behind. And frankly if you have to wear something that was made possible by the drawn out suffering, killing and skinning of an animal already made homeless by human intrusion in order to prove your status in some exclusive club, you need to take a long hard look at yourself.