Fur or against? How wearing fur has come in from the cold

Lindsay Lohan wearing fur at New York fashion week opening night this week.

FUR or against – that's the question facing fashionistas as temperatures continue to tumble this week

Across the country, recent icy weather has brought fur coats back in from the cold.

But the animal-pelt trend remains as divisive as ever.

Last month Beyoncé turned up to Barack Obama's inauguration in a full-length Christian Dior mink coat.

Meanwhile, Anne Hathaway braved temperatures of 2C fur-free on the red carpet of the Golden Globes recently.

Here at home, where there are five fur farms, research shows that 90pc of women have never worn real fur and 64pc think it should be outlawed.

However, fur farming was also worth almost €5m to the Irish economy in 2010, according to the latest figures from the Central Statistics Office.

Although fur farming is illegal in Northern Ireland, last November a review group established by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Simon Coveney concluded that the practice should be allowed to continue in the Republic.

All of which leaves consumers here free to decide on hide.

"Most people genuinely don't know what goes on behind the scenes on fur farms," says John Carmody, spokesperson for ARAN (Animal Rights Action Network).

"Generally when we show people footage of the conditions that the animals are kept in and the ways they are killed, they crumble.

"Some have even donated their fur coats to help us to educate others.

"With so many good alternatives though, we honestly do not need to use any type of fur," he adds.

At JM Barnardo Furriers on Grafton Street, Ireland's oldest furriers, however, things have never been busier according to bosses.

"Fur is always in fashion," says owner Caroline Barnardo, whose mink, raccoon and chinchilla products range from €69 to €10,000. "We've been here for 200 years and have generations of loyal clients.

"A lot of these animal rights activists have never even been on an ordinary farm, let alone a fur farm, so they're speaking from inexperience.

"As a farmer's daughter, I know how well the animals are treated.

"Really, it's anti-wealth, because they think that a fur coat equals wealth – but my 18-year-old fur coat is actually the cheapest garment in my wardrobe, I've got so much wear out of it.

"So long as animals mate, we'll always have fur," she adds. "And whenever you're sick of your fur coat, you can dig a hole and feed the worms – it doesn't get much more environmentally friendly than that."

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