Humane Society officials push faux-fur alternatives at talk with KSU fashion students

Samantha Tuly

The fashion industry is constantly changing, but one fad never seems to fade from runways: fur. The Fashion Student Organization invited guest speakers Michelle McDonald and P.J. Smith from The Humane Society of the United States to talk with students about the cruelty within the fur industry Wednesday at Rockwell Hall.

The Humane Society’s mission is to protect all animals, combating numerous types of animal cruelty such as dog fighting, animal testing, puppy mills and, particularly, the acts of inhumanity within the fur trade.

“The fur industry is a very dark, cruel industry,” said McDonald, Humane Society fashion outreach manager.

Smith, Humane Society corporate outreach manager, and McDonald took FSO students through a slide show examining the rules regarding labeling of furs, the practice of killing animals in the fashion industry and the ways to tell the difference between real and faux fur.

Many students were surprised after hearing the presentation, which noted that companies sometimes mislabel real fur as faux fur.

It creeped out senior fashion merchandizing major Sarah Knapp, who said, “It’s like wearing someone else’s skin.”

The Humane Society sponsors a fashion-design competition urging students to create runway looks with non-fur options. The organization also reaches out to future designers and merchandisers by speaking at fashion schools around the country. It is the goal of people such as McDonald and Smith to lessen the need for fur in fashion.

“At this point, we have alternatives that if you want that look and that feel without the cruelty, there are alternatives that do exist,” Smith said.

McDonald looked at the room of fashion students and asked the future designers and merchandisers to use alternatives and use their skills to end the use of fur in the fashion industry.

“We’re here at one of the top fashion schools in the country. There are obviously creative minds. These students can be innovative,” McDonald said. “It makes fur obsolete.”

“I’m an animal person, and if you can make something that is faux fur, it looks just as good and you can’t tell, I see no reason why you should use real fur,” junior fashion merchandising major Sarah Pohan said.

Pohan said the presentation opened her eyes and made her aware as a current consumer and a future member of the fashion industry.

“Our hope is that we’ll inspire these students,” McDonald said. “We’re very optimistic about the future of fur-free fashion.”

Contact Samantha Tuly at [email protected].