It should surprise no one that Donald Trump's greed-is-good 1980's redux includes lavish displays of fur. Images of his fur-clad ex-wives Marla Maples and Ivana Trump keep alive the dated image of the "kept" women in diamonds--as dated as Trump's beauty pageant, grab-their-p*ssy approach to women in general.
Daughters Ivanka and Tiffany and current wife Melania have all stepped out in fur though Melania is now said to have renounced it. Daughter Ivanka's use of rabbit fur in her clothing line continues to draw anger from animal lovers.
When it comes to the fur industry, it is the best of times and worst of times. Fur farming is now illegal in Austria, Croatia, England and Wales, fox and chinchilla farming is illegal in the Netherlands and the last mink farm in Japan closed last year. Seal fur products from commercial seal hunts are now banned in 35 countries including the United States, the 27-nation EU, Britain, Russia and Taiwan. Yet a paradoxical fur revival continues on fashion runways.
Through the use of role models like Rihanna, Cara Delevingne, Kate Moss, Janet Jackson, Elle Macpherson and former fur-foe Naomi Campbell, exploiting the public's short memory and sheer audacity and tenacity, the fur industry has convinced many that somehow fur is not unethical anymore. This is especially true among younger people who did not grow up hearing fur was cruel anyway (though Kim Kardashian and Kanye West recently vowed to only wear fur from "roadkill").
People who remember the fur wars of the 1990s and 2000s realize furs are obtained from poisoning, gassing and anal electrocution on farms and stomping animals caught in leg traps in the wild. (Water traps drown animals like beavers, muskrats and minks in a process that can take up to 24 minutes.) But some younger buyers neither know or care about their fur product's origins. The fact that the fashion houses Gucci, Prada and Versace use seal fur does not seem to bump these buyers--or even that fur giant Fendi actually sells monkey fur.
In addition to its cruelty, there was a time when fur was just, well uncool. It was associated with dowagers and failed social climbers who wanted to be "classy." ("Pimps and Bimbos Wear Fur" read a sign at Chicago's annual Fur-Free Friday.) Fur products were considered uncouth and were largely absent in marquee cities like Chicago or London. Notably, fur coats also made people look fat and Mark Oaten, CEO of the International Fur Trade Federation, admitted that unless the industry learned "how to make our products more flexible and lighter," fur coats would have been finished as a fashion item.
But not to worry. Fur was made lighter, dyed (yes, including to Trump orange) and called a "fabric" by the industry to erase any thoughts of living mammals and make it seem like a manmade creation from a textile mill. The Fur Commission USA began calling fur part of "animal agriculture" and comparing it to using animals for food, medical and scientific research, entertainment, transportation and companionship. (Pelts, pets--same idea, right?)
Public Outrage at Trump Sons
Not everyone is ready to accept the new definition of "animal agriculture" as doing whatever someone wants to do to animals because they were made for us to use. A clear example comes from the Trump sons' 2011 big game hunt. When the Gothamist described photos in which "Donald Jr. proudly holds a dead elephant tail in one hand and a knife in the other," the sons stand beside a crocodile "hanging from a noose off a tree" and pose with "a dead elephant, kudu, civet cat and waterbuck while on a big game safari in Zimbabwe," the public, including non-trophy hunters, was shocked and appalled.
"They're great marksman, great shots, they love it," Trump beamed to the British press about his sons' exploits while most recoiled at the ego-driven, rich kid sadism. Since the Trump sons' 2011 hunt, horror at gratuitous destruction of exotic and endangered wildlife by bored, rich trophy hunters trying to appear tough guys has only grown, crystallized by the death of Cecil the lion. Major airlines now refuse to ship animal trophies.
Trophy hunting does not help poor communities says Travel and Leisure magazine, a knowledgeable source. The claim is floated and repeated by gun interests to make people who get a sick thrill killing elephants, lions and giraffes appear "conservationists" and philanthropic. Using the same "help poor communities" logic, allowing sex tourists to abuse one 12-year-old girl in a poor country saves the other girls from abuse. It is...philanthropic!
Savvy Chains Jettison Fur
The Trump family may be making fur--and trophy hunting-- great again, but designers, chains and brands are increasingly moving in the other direction--refusing to work with fur or carry it. Recently, fashion giant Giorgio Armani dropped fur, proclaiming that "Technological progress made over the years allows us to have valid alternatives at our disposition that render the use of cruel practices unnecessary as regards animals. Pursuing the positive process undertaken long ago, my company is now taking a major step ahead, reflecting our attention to the critical issues of protecting and caring for the environment and animals."