Second-hand finds: furry hats

Nothing keeps you warm during a long cold winter like a good fur. Especially when it’s wrapped around your head.

I notice a lot less real furs on the streets here in the UK than in Denmark and other Scandinavian countries. This partly has to do with the colder climate and tradition (Denmark is the world’s biggest mink producing country + our strong connection to Greenland has made seal fur very popular).

But I suspect it’s also political, as people in the UK are a lot more anti-fur than in Denmark. (Fur farming has been banned in the UK since 2004, and this is probably a bad example, but just read what the always obnoxious Liz Jones has to say about the subject.)

This is not going to be a long defence speech about why I choose to wear real fur, as most people know the arguments pro & con, and I don’t expect everyone to agree with me but just respect that this is my personal choice, just as I choose to wear leather and eat meat.

And I do get some of the anti-fur arguments, but what I don’t get is the aggressive behaviour a lot of anti-fur protesters display. Throwing red paint at people, standing in front of Selfridges screaming and “setting free” thousands of mink resulting in them dying a slow, cruel death in nature etc. just doesn’t seem neither constructive nor very intelligent to me. It just makes them look stupid and spiteful.

To me fur is not a fashion statement, nor about showing off or enjoying the blood-dripping torture of innocent animals. I just love the way it feels, the texture and the way it protects me from the cold.

My take on it is that I’ve chosen to only wear vintage & second-hand fur and would never wear fur from endangered species. If I were to ever buy a new fur I would make sure the animals have been responsible reared and humanely killed and I would prefer to wear a fur from an animal that hasn’t JUST been killed for its fur.

Enough said, back to the hats I wanted to show you:

Over the years I’ve accumulated three very different fur hats. Let’s start with my least favourite. This I believe is a red fox and it cost me next to nothing (DKK20/£2)  in my favourite Red Cross shop in Copenhagen.

The second one is black (or very dark brown) and from the same Red Cross shop. I paid around DKK 80/£9 for it. I’m not really sure what animal this is from. Fox again?

And here’s my favourite. I believe this one is fox as well. I bought this from a lovely woman on as sunny summer day at a flee market at Østerfælled Torv, close to where I used to live.

The woman’s mother had just moved to a smaller flat, so she was selling all the things the old lady didn’t use anymore. I paid DKK250/£28 for it.

2 responses to “Second-hand finds: furry hats

  1. Walking an young English lady around a Danish city recently I had to give emergency counseling. Fur was everywhere. Fur trim. Fur jackets. Fur full length and to the floor. The elder ladies (any one over 32) tend to wear the most full on fur displays, and the younger ones tended to do the cheaper bits of fur trim here and there (which could be rabbit or cat, anything). It’s hard when one comes from a place that has campaigned against the fur trade, to a place where the fur trade brings in a lot of revenue and clothes a sizeable number of the female populace, it’s hard to take it, that first time you see the promenade of furs.

    It seemed like every six or seventh woman wore ostentatious fur this winter in DK. I’d say about 75% is old fur. This was too much for my young English lady friend. The emergency counseling I provided went along the lines of the same talk I gave to a male relative who came to visit and who couldn’t understand all the kids left in prams outside, on the coldest day of the year, while their mothers chatted somewhere beyond the frosted glass window of a cafe.

    I said: “It’s cultural.”

    Years ago, and despite being full out against the fur trade at one point, I traveled back to England from a trip to Scandinavia wearing a vintage suede coat with a massive fur collar. I was experimenting with the ‘it’s okay if it’s very old fur’. I wanted to wear it, I was doing the retro ’70s in the ’90s thing and it went very well with my bell-bottoms and platforms. I like to be free to change course, I like to be open minded. I reserve the right to wear what I want, regardless of animals killed for the garment or in the case of mass produced fashion – hours slaved in sweat shops by under-appreciated workers. If a burka is what I want to wear, I will wear a burka. If I want to wear a bikini, I will wear a bikini.

    I wore the old fur in England for about an hour and twenty minutes before being told in no uncertain terms by two (independent of each other) passers by what it looked like I was wearing (I won’t repeat the comments, I’m not going to pass on a rehashed lecture, but one was out and out yelling (and had the person had red paint to hand I am sure it would have been all over me), the other was calmly and careful enunciated, facts figured and spoken with a hint of a reasonable “Come on, think about it.”). I took the old fur off and gave it a decent burial.

    It’s cultural.

    It’s a myth that animal rights campaigners set mink free in the wild. It’s more likely to be the fur farmers themselves, they are an odd lot. Or the work of rare individuals who are somewhat misguided.

    Most of us animal rights campaigners want to see a total end to the fur trade, and Denmark’s status as being one of the world’s top producers of animal skins is repugnant. But fur sells. It’s a look that is coveted. So I suppose we try to settle with raising awareness about the conditions the animals are kept in, campaigning for better conditions for the animals during their short cramped lives and at the time of their deaths and promoting fashion that doesn’t involve fur or animal skin.

    It’s an inescapable fact that wearing fur in Denmark is not a risky thing. Wearing fur in the UK is a statement, and we have to have our arguments ready.

    Isn’t it weird how people don’t freak about leathers and sheepskins though, you never hear about someone getting hissed at for wearing leather boots? Double standards, as always, and it’s worth testing the boundaries so I appreciate the artistic statement you are making in wearing fur.

    But yeah, we don’t do fur in England like we don’t do ‘Golly Wogs’


    • Thank you very much for your insigthful comment Babs.

      And you’re right, it’s cultural. I think one of the most important lessons you learn by moving away from your home country is that you really get to re-evaluate and question things you used to take for granted. Traditions you almost took to be a priori universal truths. (Like babies outside in the cold or your right to discretely breastfeed in public).

      I now understand that when I wear fur in the UK I need to be prepared to defend myself, and who knows I might even change my mind about vintage fur if people approach me in a constructive way (like the second person you mentioned).

      But if they’re aggressive and shouting at me they’re not worth my time. And I’ve experienced that a lot. And the double standards (like the ones you mentioned) they really piss me off. Some people need to take a really, really good look at themselves before they start attacking other people on the street because of their personal choices.

      There are better ways to get your message through.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s