Why You Should Care That the Fur Industry Is Now Worth $40 Billion

Leah Bourne

Photo: Getty

It wasn’t long ago that wearing real fur was generally considered a major faux pas—walk down the street in a fur coat and you risked getting yelled at, or worse, having red paint thrown at you. If you were a celebrity who wore fur, you would probably be forced by the court of public opinion to issue an apology for the offense (both Gwyneth Paltrow and Oprah have, at one point, had to do this).

MORE: 10 Clever Ways to Remove it From Your Clothes

Yet for all we hear about the rise of environmentally responsible shopping and the enormous advances that have been made with the look and feel of faux fur, real fur doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. According to recently released figures by the International Fur Federation [IFF], the fur trade is now worth more than $40 billion dollars globally. According to The Daily Telegraph that number is on par with the global Wi-Fi market (just think about how many people have Wi-Fi and the significance of that figure will begin to set in).

MORE: All the Details on Diane von Furstenberg’s New Reality Show

To be sure, there’s been a shift in the air for a while now. Naomi Campbell, for instance, appeared in a 1994 PETA ad proclaiming with other supermodels: “We’d rather go naked than wear fur.” Then in 2009, she appeared in an ad for Dennis Basso wearing a sable fur coat. The runways are awash in fur. According to The New York Times: “For the first time in more than two decades, more designers are using fur than not.”

A dirty little secret of why that’s the case: Many furriers sponsor designer fashion shows to make sure that fur appears on the runways. And, on top of it all, paparazzi magnets from Kim Kardashian to Rihanna seem to have no problem these days being photographed in fashion-forward full-length fur coats.

According to the CEO of the IFF, Mark Oaten, who spoke to the Telegraph: “It’s easy to get caught up in the emotions the business can generate, but the truth is that the fur trade is an economic cornerstone in Europe and beyond. Much of the fashion and increasingly the soft furnishings world relies on fur—and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.”

No surprise here, PETA is not to happy about this. Founder Ingrid E Newkirk’s said: “Fur is so cheap these days that furriers have resorted to paying designers and celebrities to use it, but its cheapness is reflected in the world of Kardashian freebies and the shallowness of the wearer.”

One thing’s for sure, the days of picking up a fox fur hat, or a coat trimmed in mink, and rationalizing that it isn’t making that much of a difference are over. Clearly those purchases have been adding up, big time.

Weigh in below in the comments! What do you think about the booming fur industry?