In a time that forces us to be both frugal and altruistic, why would anyone want to flex a piece of clothing most associated with the bourgeoisie? It’s a question people often ask about the fur coat: an item of clothing, once wildly popular, that got relegated to the back of the wardrobe when we started to pick holes in the bougie garment's 'problematic’ existence.
After all, it wasn’t that long ago that menswear’s reshaping under mad hatter designers like Demna Gvasalia, the creative director of cult meme label Vetements, meant that jeans, tees and sneakers were pretty much commonplace on the runways of Paris. With it the sartorial side of fashion, like fur coats, started to die a little. But that trend is slowly edging back into its corner, and clear visions of luxury—great leather shoes, a killer suit—are coming back to the fore.
Coming along with them is that fated fur coat, perhaps the most divisive item in anyone's wardrobe. But things have changed. The one commonality between all must-have fur jackets this season is the collective movement by most brands to shift from real animal pelts to fake ones instead. It's been a slow shift though, inspired by a few things like mass protests outside fashion shows across Europe and New York. Such an uproar meant that there was a rising pressure for brands to get rid of the real deal to appease activists.
“Although still seen as a luxury fabric, exotic skins and furs have lost their luster in the fashion world,” Lewis Munro, a London-based stylist who works with major label musicians and youth culture channel, Kyra, tells Playboy. But it's not just activists that are asking for the change; luxury consumers are warming to the idea of becoming activists too, or at least being more aware of the world around them. “People are making a conscious effort to think about the environment,” Lewis concurs. “So high fashion brands such as Burberry and Versace are moving into more ethical territory, and working with faux fur instead.”
People are making a conscious effort to think about the environment. So high fashion brands such as Burberry and Versace are moving into more ethical territory, and working with faux fur instead.
The key to knowing which kind of fur coat is for you depends on the way it will sit on your body. There's a couple of rules—one you can apply to most outerwear—that are well worth following: If you're slender, for instance, and have strong facial bone structure,it's worth trying on a traditional, trench-length fur to see how it looks first. Some people exude the confidence to pull it off, but there's also a tendency for thinner men in gigantic furs to look a little...lost—or worse, like the Ikea Monkey gasping for air. The best way to work around that is to never button the fur. Wear it open and a little off the shoulders, so you have room to breathe. Alternatively, a shorter, coach jacket style is available across brands with a short fur coating—or pony skin if you don't mind a glossier look. Your body shape and the cut naturally makes them look less "recycled from your grandma's wardrobe"and more like you shop for yourself.
If you have much more muscle mass, or have a rounder figure, a long fur usually winds up looking quite regal or sartorial, so don't be afraid to try it either. The common misconception is that rounder figures shouldn't draw attention to themselves with their style choices, but we say fuck that. Vogue's Andre Leon Talley has built a career as a larger man dressing wildly, and fur coats on him look nothing short of sensational. If you don't mind the attention, do it.
You might be fooled into thinking furs come in a fairly basic selection of chocolate browns and blotchy beiges, but in reality the opportunities are endless. Light long furs—bright polar whites especially—have a tendency to look quite grubby and, dare say it, late '90s MTV rap after a while, so no matter your skin tone it's probably best to steer clear of them. Instead, ease yourself in with an array of deeper brows until you find your shade.
Fur, alongside exotic skins like python, was once the industry's most expensive fabric to work with. As a result, animal skin coats were only reserved for the elite. But as the 1950s took hold and the style became more popular, more fur farms—mainly producing mink and fox—appeared prices reduced, and access increased.
That's the reason why you'll find fur coats still piled high in vintage stores up and down the country, but now that they're considered tainted goods, we're back to paying a little more for well made, if fake, versions. Even faux fur coats from the likes of Burberry are still, of course, eye-wateringly expensive, with one rainbow version from Christopher Bailey's final collection stretching into the thousands. But the good news is that that doesn't have to be the case. Online fashion retailers like ASOS do equally flattering versions of runway favorites for a fraction of the price, so if you don't want to shell out thousands of dollars for something you might only wear for a season or just prefer to shop at a more realistic price point, that's your better option.
Perhaps most importantly, in a time when fashion symbols of wealth have been swapped out for exceedingly expensive versions of everyday things, a fur coat now can be seen as a catalyst for change; as a sign that quality and craftsmanship can prevail in a newfound ethical way.
Whether or not that sounds like bullshit to you, it's still important to realize that fur coats, unlike the 1950s, are going to become an everyday thing. In order to wear one, especially a full length, voluptuous version like this teddy bear version from Marni, you're going to need to learn to be the kind of gentleman that can carry themselves in a manner that doesn't make it look stupid. And as we know by now, the only way to get away with bat shit crazy fashion decisions that aren't meant to suit you is by wearing them in a way that makes others think they do. So if you're interested in trying out the fur coat trend this winter, our key advice is this: say "fuck it", and give it a go. Let the rest catch up with the trend later.