REPORTS: REBECCA BRADLEY - FURRIER
Fur is undergoing somewhat of a revival with more and more designers incorporating it into celebrities seizing the opportunity to wear fur for their red carpet appearances. Yet, paradoxically the opposition to fur grows ever more entrenched and strident.
While apparently reflecting the polarized positions of those who wear fur and those that "would rather go naked", does this division of opinion over fur strike at the heart of this fundamental attraction ? Fur in popular culture, literature and myth has long been understood as a seductive yet deadly form of dressing, something worn as a mark of status, rebellion and perhaps as a basic necessity. Is there life today for fur beyond the ghostly reminders of fur laden Hollywood glamour, refrigerated special occasion minks and headline grabbing anti-fur lobbyists? Rebecca Bradley a rising new furrier about to launch her new collection certainly thinks so...
Someone told me you are one of the youngest people in the UK working in fur ?
I don"t know anyone younger than me. I don"t know anyone below 50 (laughs) but I don"t know. I think there"s a big gap there that I"ve kind of fallen into. I don"t know of anyone my age who"s actually furrier in the UK, if there is I"d like to meet them.
Has the recession had any impact on the traditional clientele for fur ?
Fundamentally it is a luxury product, an end of the market which is less affected by recession, however if people are worried then it can be the luxury items that they will cut back on.
Why do you think there now seems to be a revival of interest in fur?
Historically we would say that there was a great interest in fur in the early and up to the middle of the 20th century, but then enthusiasm for fur declined, but now it seems to be on the rise again. There a couple of reasons, one of them is there"s been a massive decline in the popularity of disposable fashion in the UK, they like to invest in pieces that last for a lifetime - and fur is very much about that. Also I think fur has become a lot more modern through new techniques; dyeing and stripping to make it lightweight and obviously now it"s seen on celebrities a lot. There are more people educating themselves in what fur"s about and how respectable the trade is. I think people are more willing to listen and learn about that and therefore wear it.
That"s interesting because as you suggest the investment in a fur coat, both in terms of its cost and the skill involved in it"s making does chime with an interest in more sustainable clothing. And yet on the other hand something as costly as casino online fur means that if it becomes too fashionable it loses its wearability.
I think you"re right but I think it"s breaking out of that now. People want a colourful fur coat they can wear with jeans and trainers and off you go. If you"re spending an massive amount on a coat it"s better that you get your wear out of it instead of it sitting in a cupboard. I work with another furrier in London and we get furs in that theses ladies spent so much money and never wore them because they were their "precious" coats, we"re remodelling and reselling them again which is great. It"s breathing a new lease of life into them.
That brings me to ask a little more about your collection. Can you tell us about it"s inspiration or some of the ideas you"re pursuing through your work ?
Well I wanted to make fur even more accessible and even more wearable, not necessarily in a casual way but, something that tries to show fur in a new way that people work into their wardrobe. I"ve been looking at jumpers and tailored jumpers and we"ve done a lot of fox on fabric and we"ve actually done some full fur jumpers but they"re more like the show pieces of the collection.
Do a lot of people ask you to work with fake fur ?
To me faux fur"s a fabric really and unless you know the craft, to look at a fur coat a lot of people don"t know that it"s been stretched and damped and that"s obviously fine, but to me so much of the beauty is in the craft. So I think I"m going to stick to real fur. Historically there have been changes in tastes and fashions for fur, for example in the early 20th century, sable was not popular, in the 1920s exotic animal skins were fashionable and then by mid-century foxes and mink (partly perhaps because of the influence of Hollywood and the way fox, especially white foxes photographed on film)
Is there a particularly fashion fur now ?
Dyed fox is huge at the moment. Mink and fox are the most popular which is great because they are the most sustainable. And dyed fur at the moment is really huge. When there are natural markings you get some beautiful layering on the colours.
So that leads to the opposition against fur. There has been a rise in major celebrities wearing fur and fur being more in the public eye, has that led to an increase in the understanding of the fur trade ?
I hope so. I think there"s a place for opposition to fur because it makes sure standards are kept high and I think animal welfare across farming and I think you should respect any animal that you"re farming in that way. I hope that as fur has been promoted and celebrities are wearing it that education is promotion alongside it. Information is accessible through the IFTF (International Fur Trade Federation) and the website of the BFTA (British Fur Trade Association) and people can go look for themselves and find the pros and cons and make their own opinions and it"s important for people to do so.
Some people might wonder what are the sort of furs and skins you work with and those that you don"t?
We don"t source fur from any countries that openly don"t respect animal welfare and we go to great lengths to source ethically. Companies such as Saga have very high standards as do Kopenhagen Fur. They are incredibly well researched and practices and that"s something that we really respect.
By Jonathan Faiers.
Jonathan Faiers is Reader in Fashion and Textile Theory at Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton and is a member of the Fashion Publications Group at the Victoria and Albert Museum. His research examines the interface between popular culture, textile and dress. His most recent book, Dressing Dangerously: Dysfunctional clothing in mainstream cinema, and he is the editor of a new journal, Luxury: History, Culture and Consumption to be launched in September 2014. He is currently researching the work of a group of forgotten female post war London couturiers".
Rebecca Bradley is the UK"s youngest furrier. Her work in the fashion industry has taken in clients that include Oscar de la Renta, The Bolshoi Ballet, Roland Mouret and Louis Vuitton. She currently works from her London studio where she is working on her first collection.