Blog: The F-word

Fashion is known for stretching boundaries, but certain areas still remain ‘no-go’. Phoebe Garland investigates…

Garland_double_headshotRobert and Phoebe Garland run and own Garland & Garland Fashion, a leading fashion agency based in Sydney. which also offers business mentoring & project management of marketing to the fashion industry.

There is one word that causes much debate in the fashion world and it begins with F.


It’s a topic we are almost forbidden to talk about in Australia; it seems to fall into the same category as smoking, infidelity, racism and many other “no-go” areas. Understandably fur evokes strong opinions and is never far from heated debate, not least thanks to PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). Their presence in the debate is hard to forget when it’s all too easy to imagine they are waiting with a bucket of red paint to hurl at anyone who dares mention the F-word.

It might surprise readers to know that fur aversion is far from universal however. I recently came back from Hong Kong and was amazed to find fur everywhere, despite the mild winter conditions. Lane Crawford, the luxury Asian department store, had speciality fur sections of high end brands such as Blackglama (campaign image pictured) complete with elaborate displays designed to show them off. Mink, fox, raccoon, rabbit… you name it, it was on show. And it seems they are not the only ones. US and UK department store websites display pictures of models draped in fur garments… I can’t imagine David Jones displaying it so brazenly without PETA arriving quick smart. By contrast, despite seeing fur everywhere in Hong Kong I did not see a single PETA protester anywhere. It seemed like such a stark contrast to Australia, where finding a retailer who stocks fur would be like finding a black truffle.

Garland_BlackglamaThe interesting thing is that fur actually sells: my retailers have told me there is undeniably a level of demand for it from customers. And I am talking the real fur, not fake fur, which, let’s be honest, feels like cheap shag carpet in comparison.

I do condemn cruelty to animals, especially to endangered species such as mink, however rabbit and fox are considered pests in this country. We have no qualms about using animals for meat and I do find it hypocritical that anyone who eats meat, fish and wears leather shoes should be up in arms about the “cruelty” of killing animals for fur, especially if they are bred for it.

On an amusing note, one lovely person I know mentioned to me that he was doing a show exhibiting fur and crowd numbers were a bit low. He was after a bit of publicity, so he called PETA himself in the hope that their turning up would generate some interest. Sure enough it worked. It seems if your brand needs some attention PETA is the one to call.

As always we would love to hear your thoughts. Contact us info@garlands.com.au or
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