Fur

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Fur is a thick growth of hair that covers the skin of many animals. It consists of a combination of oily guard hair on top and thick underfur beneath. The guard hair keeps moisture and the underfur acts as an insulating blanket that keeps the animal warm. [1]

The term pelage – first known use in English c. 1828 (French, from Middle French, from poil for "hair", from Old French peilss, from Latin pilus[2]) – is sometimes used to refer to an animal's complete coat. The term fur is also used to refer to animal pelts which have been processed into leather with their hair still attached. The words fur or furry are also used, more casually, to refer to hair-like growths or formations, particularly when the subject being referred to exhibits a dense coat of fine, soft "hairs". If layered, rather than grown as a single coat, it may consist of short down hairs, long guard hairs, and in some cases, medium awn hairs. Mammals with reduced amounts of fur are often called "naked", as with the naked mole-rat, or "hairless", as with hairless dogs.

An animal with commercially valuable fur is known within the fur industry as a furbearer.[3] The use of fur as clothing or decoration is controversial; animal welfare advocates object to the trapping and killing of wildlife, and to the confinement and killing of animals on fur farms.

Composition[edit]

The modern mammalian fur arrangement is known to have occurred as far back as docodonts, haramiyidans and eutriconodonts, with specimens of Castorocauda, Megaconus and Spinolestes preserving compound follicles with both guard hair and underfur.

Fur may consist of three layers, each with a different type of hair.

Down hair[edit]

Down hair (also known as undercoat or ground hair) is the bottom—or inner—layer, composed of wavy or curly hairs with no straight portions or sharp points. Down hairs, which are also flat, tend to be the shortest and most numerous in the coat. Thermoregulation is the principal function of the down hair, which insulates a layer of dry air next to the skin.

Awn hair[edit]

The awn hair can be thought of as a hybrid, bridging the gap between the distinctly different characteristics of down and guard hairs. Awn hairs begin their growth much like guard hairs, but less than half way to their full length, awn hairs start to grow thin and wavy like down hair. The proximal part of the awn hair assists in thermoregulation (like the down hair), whereas the distal part can shed water (like the guard hair). The awn hair's thin basal portion does not allow the amount of piloerection that the stiffer guard hairs are capable of. Mammals with well developed down and guard hairs also usually have large numbers of awn hairs, which may even sometimes be the bulk of the visible coat.

Guard hair[edit]

Guard hair is the top—or outer—layer of the coat. Guard hairs are longer, generally coarser, and have nearly straight shafts that protrude through the layer of softer down hair. The distal end of the guard hair is the visible layer of most mammal coats. This layer has the most marked pigmentation and gloss, manifesting as coat markings that are adapted for camouflage or display. Guard hair repels water and blocks sunlight, protecting the undercoat and skin in wet or aquatic habitats, and from the sun's ultraviolet radiation. Guard hairs can also reduce the severity of cuts or scratches to the skin. Many mammals, such as the domestic dog and cat, have a pilomotor reflex that raises their guard hairs as part of a threat display when agitated.

Mammals without fur[edit]

Computer generated image of wet fur

Hair is one of the defining characteristics of mammals; however, several species or breeds have considerably reduced amounts of fur. These are often called "naked" or "hairless".

Natural selection[edit]

Some mammals naturally have reduced amounts of fur. Some semiaquatic or aquatic mammals such as cetaceans, pinnipeds and hippopotamuses have evolved hairlessness, presumably to reduce resistance through water. The naked mole-rat has evolved hairlessness, perhaps as an adaptation to their subterranean life-style. Two of the largest extant mammals, the elephant and the rhinoceros, are largely hairless. The hairless bat is mostly hairless but does have short bristly hairs around its neck, on its front toes, and around the throat sac, along with fine hairs on the head and tail membrane. Most hairless animals cannot go in the sun for long periods of time, or stay in the cold for too long. [4]

Humans are the only primate species that have undergone significant hair loss. The hairlessness of humans compared to related species may be due to loss of functionality in the pseudogene KRTHAP1 (which helps produce keratin) in the human lineage about 240,000 years ago.[5] Mutations in the gene HR can lead to complete hair loss, though this is not typical in humans.[6]

Sheep have not become hairless; however, their pelage is usually referred to as "wool" rather than fur.

Artificial selection[edit]

At times, when a hairless domesticated animal is discovered, usually owing to a naturally occurring genetic mutation, humans may intentionally inbreed those hairless individuals and, after multiple generations, artificially create breeds that are hairless. There are several breeds of hairless cats, perhaps the most commonly known being the Sphynx cat. Similarly, there are several breeds of hairless dogs. Other examples of artificially selected hairless animals include the hairless guinea-pig, nude mouse, and the hairless rat.

Use in clothing[edit]

A seal fur coat worn by Carl Ben Eielson (1897-1929), USAF pilot & Arctic explorer

Fur has long served as a source of clothing for humans, including Neanderthals. Historically, it was worn for its insulating quality, with aesthetics becoming a factor over time. Pelts were worn in or out, depending on their characteristics and desired use. Today fur and trim used in garments may be dyed bright colors or to mimic exotic animal patterns, or shorn close like velvet. The term "a fur" may connote a coat, wrap, or shawl.

The manufacturing of fur clothing involves obtaining animal pelts where the hair is left on the animal's processed skin. In contrast, making leather involves removing the hair from the hide or pelt and using only the skin. The use of wool involves shearing the animal's fleece from the living animal, so that the wool can be regrown but sheepskin shearling is made by retaining the fleece to the leather and shearing it.[7] Shearling is used for boots, jackets and coats and is probably the most common type of skin worn.

Fur is also used to make felt. A common felt is made from beaver fur and is used in high-end cowboy hats.[8]

Common furbearers[edit]

Common furbearers used include fox, rabbit, mink, beaver, ermine, otter, sable, seal, coyote, chinchilla, raccoon, and possum.

The import and sale of seal products was banned in the U.S. in 1972 over conservation concerns about Canadian seals. The import and sale is still banned even though the Marine Animal Response Society estimates the harp seal population is thriving at approximately 8 million.[9] The import, export and sales of domesticated cat and dog fur were also banned in the U.S. under the Dog and Cat Protection Act of 2000.[10]

History[edit]

Furs of the red fox

Fur clothing predates written history and has been recovered from various archaeological sites worldwide. Crown proclamations known as “sumptuary legislation” were issued in England[11] limiting the wearing of certain furs to the higher social statuses, thereby establishing a cachet based on exclusivity. Furs such as marten, grey squirrel and ermine were reserved for the aristocracy, while fox, hare and beaver clothed the middle, and goat, wolf and sheepskin the lower. Fur was primarily used for visible linings, with species varied by season within social classes. Furbearing animals decreased in West Europe and began to be imported from the Middle East and Russia.[12]

As new kinds of fur entered Europe, other uses were made with fur other than clothing. Beaver was most desired but used to make hats which became a popular headpiece especially during the wartime. Swedish soldiers wore broad-brimmed hats made exclusively from beaver felt. Due to the limitations of beaver fur, hat-makers relied heavily on North America for imports as beaver was only available in the Scandinavian peninsula.[13]

Other than the military, fur has been used for accessories such as hats, hoods, scarves, and muffs. Design elements including the visuals of the animal were considered acceptable with heads, tails and paws still being kept on the accessories. During the nineteen century, seal[verification needed] and karakul were made into indoor event. The eleventh century was the beginning of the fueleventh century coats being fasWestern, ocelot, leopard, tiger, and polar bear in 1975. The use of animal skins were brought to light during the 1980s by animal right organisations and the demand for fur decreased. Anti-fur organisations raised awareness of the controversy between animal welfare and fashion. Fur farming became banned in Britain in 1999. During the twenty-first century, fox and mink have been bred in captivity with Denmark, Holland and Finland being leaders of mink production. [14]

Criticisms[edit]

  • Animal cruelty

Most of the fur sold by high fashion retailers globally is from farmed animals such as mink, foxes, and rabbits. Cruel methods of killing have made people more aware as the animal rights activists work harder to protect the animals. The recommendations (2001) of the European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Animal Health and Animal Welfare (SCAHAW) state correspondingly: ‘In comparison with other farm animals, species farmed for their fur have been subjected to relatively little active selection except with respect to fur characteristics. [15] [16]

  • Environmental Damage

Fur factories are extremely harmful to soil hence environmentally devastating. The process of fur manufacturing includes waterways-pumping waste and the toxic chemicals in to the surrounding environment. There are serious environmental issues on both sides whether the fur is fake or real. Faux fur uses harmful chemicals, cheaper labor hence able to sell at lower prices. Faux fur adds to the waste produced by fast fashion, including microfiber pollution in the ocean. As a petroleum product, fake fur fibers do not biodegrade easily and the dyeing process uses a lot chemicals that are seeped into the oceans and rivers causing water and ocean pollution. Real fur, on the other hand, is naturally biodegradable and can be passed down for generations although the cost is the inhumane treatment of animals. [17]

  • Switch to Faux Fur

Intro of alternatives in the early 20th century brought tension to clothing industry as the faux fur manufacturers started producing faux fur and capitalising on profits. By 1950s synthetic fur garments had become extremely popular and affordable. Newspaper were writing articles on major chemical companies trying to out do each other in the quest to create the most realistic fake fur. [18]

  • Future of Natural Fur

The popularity of natural fur has gone up and down in recent years. Vogue Paris published a homage to fur in August 2017 and later Gucci followed the idea of not using animal fur other high end brands to follow this lead are Stella McCartney, Givenchy, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors, Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini. Burberry announced to stop sending model with fur on runways however did not stop selling it in stores. There are many companies that are taking the imitative of coming up with more sustainable ways in producing leather and fur. Designer Ingar Helgason is developing Bio fur which would grows synthetic pelts the way that Modern Meadow has been able to produce grown leather and Diamond foundry created lab grown diamonds. BOF fur debate hosted by Zilberkweit director of the British Fur Association argued that natural fur was more sustainable, many forms of faux fur are not biodegradable “Our industry is about raising animals in a natural way, a kind way and it’s a renewable source. However not everyone agrees to this others said that chemical processes needed to treat animals’ fur in order to be worn are just as detrimental to the environment. [19] [20]

  • Opposition

PETA representative Johanna Fuoss credits social media and email marketing campaigns for helping to mobilize an unprecedented number of animal rights activists. “In the year before Michael Kors stopped using fur, he had received more than 150,000 emails,” Fuoss tells Highsnobiety. “This puts a certain pressure on designers who can see that the zeitgeist is moving away from fur. ”New technologies and platforms have made it easier than ever for those advocating change to get results. While in the past, activists had to invade runways with signs and paint, or physically mail privately viewed letters, today’s activist can raise a commotion without leaving the house.[21] [22] [23]

  • Fur today

In spite of organized backlash against it, the fur market in 2016 Was $30 billion.[citation needed] Heritage fashion houses such as Hermès, Dior and Chanel still use natural fur. Alex Mcintosh, who leads the Fashion Futures post grad program at London College of Fashion, says “Change on this level would only be driven on a genuine lack of demand and not just social media outcry”. As McIntosh puts it, “The choice not to sell fur is not an environmental decision. “People conflating not selling fur with sustainability is quite dangerous, because they are not the same thing. It’s not a choice that is about sustainability, it’s a choice about ethics and what you think is acceptable in terms of animal welfare.” [24]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Fur | animal skin". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2018-10-30.
  2. ^ "Pelage". Merriam-Webster. Retrieved January 9, 2013.
  3. ^ Peterson, Judy Monroe (2011-01-15). Varmint Hunting. The Rosen Publishing Group. ISBN 9781448823666.
  4. ^ Thomson, Paul (2002). "Cheiromeles torquatus". Animal Diversity Web. Retrieved 29 October 2013.
  5. ^ Winter, H.; Langbein, L.; Krawczak, M.; Cooper, D. N.; Jave-Suarez, L. F.; Rogers, M. A.; Praetzel, S.; Heidt, P. J.; Schweizer, J. (2001). "Human type I hair keratin pseudogene phihHaA has functional orthologs in the chimpanzee and gorilla: Evidence for recent inactivation of the human gene after the Pan-Homo divergence". Human Genetics. 108 (1): 37–42. doi:10.1007/s004390000439. PMID 11214905.
  6. ^ "Molecular evolution of HR, a gene that regulates the postnatal cycle of the hair follicle". Retrieved 2012-03-13.
  7. ^ Australian Wool Corporation, Australian Wool Classing, Raw Wool Services, 1990.
  8. ^ Chamber's journal, Published by Orr and Smith, 1952, p. 200, Original from the University of Michigan.
  9. ^ "Harp Seal", Marine Animal Response Society.
  10. ^ Rules and Regulations Under the Fur Products Labeling Act Archived 2008-07-24 at the Wayback Machine.
  11. ^ "Savannah College of Art and Design". 0-www.bloomsburyfashioncentral.com.library.scad.edu. Retrieved 2017-11-05.
  12. ^ "Savannah College of Art and Design". 0-www.bloomsburyfashioncentral.com.library.scad.edu. Retrieved 2017-11-05.
  13. ^ "Savannah College of Art and Design". 0-www.bloomsburyfashioncentral.com.library.scad.edu. Retrieved 2017-11-05.
  14. ^ "Savannah College of Art and Design". 0-www.bloomsburyfashioncentral.com.library.scad.edu. Retrieved 2017-11-05.
  15. ^ The environmental costs and health risks of fur. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.furfreealliance.com/environment-and-health/
  16. ^ Fur bans. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.furfreealliance.com/fur-bans/
  17. ^ Hoskins, T. (2013, October 29). Is the fur trade sustainable? Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/sustainable-fashion-blog/is-fur-trade-sustainable
  18. ^ Burberry Stops Destroying Product and Bans Real Fur. (2018, September 06). Retrieved from https://www.businessoffashion.com/articles/professional/burberry-stops-destroying-product-and-bans-real-fur
  19. ^ Op-Ed | Fashion's Fur-Free Future. (2018, August 11). Retrieved from https://www.businessoffashion.com/articles/opinion/op-ed-fashions-fur-free-future
  20. ^ Maisey, S. (2018, January 06). With more fashion brands declaring themselves fur free, what's next for the fur industry? . Retrieved from https://www.thenational.ae/lifestyle/with-more-fashion-brands-declaring-themselves-fur-free-what-s-next-for-the-fur-industry-1.693095
  21. ^ Balmat, N. (2018, April 01). From vegan leather to bio fur: Growing materials from cells. Retrieved from https://futur404.com/growing-materials-cells/
  22. ^ Op-Ed | Fashion's Fur-Free Future. (2018, August 11). Retrieved from https://www.businessoffashion.com/articles/opinion/op-ed-fashions-fur-free-future
  23. ^ Waters, A. (2018, September 25). How Social Media is Pushing Fur Out of Fashion. Retrieved from https://www.highsnobiety.com/p/social-media-pushing-fur-out-fashion/
  24. ^ Maisey, S. (2018, January 06). With more fashion brands declaring themselves fur free, what's next for the fur industry? . Retrieved from https://www.thenational.ae/lifestyle/with-more-fashion-brands-declaring-themselves-fur-free-what-s-next-for-the-fur-industry-1.693095

External links[edit]