No one wants to buy my fur coats

My New Year’s Resolution included decluttering my walk-in closet. While most of my (leather) designer bags are gone, people seem to have very strong feelings towards my fur coats.

The author in Paris with her favorite designer bag (that recently found a new home in Germany).

In December, 2020, I decided to organize the total chaos my walk-in closet was. And when I say it was chaos, I really mean it: I had to hide my wedding dress inside it for months and I could not ask my now-husband to change the light bulb when it burned out (not because I am not empowered enough, I just physically did not reach it!). For weeks, I simply threw things inside. I guess my walk-in closet has been the reflection of my mental and physical state, therefore I decided: in 2021, I would get my shit — and my closet — together.

It took me one night. I started at around 7 PM and I was done by 4 AM. In the end, I was very satisfied with the result, but also I realized that most of my wardrobe “does not bring me happiness”. Therefore, I decided that most things had to go, so that I could also finance my pet project, a YouTube channel I started last year in which I explain things like race issues for Italian people who do not speak English.

Before I move on, there are a couple of things you should know about me: first, I grew up in Italy; and, second, I live in Sweden.

While I am definitely not a fashion victim (at least, for Italian standards), I am aware that the amount of clothes and accessory I have been collecting over the years was too much. Not only I work at a very informal place, where it is common to wear Birkenstock sandals and socks in the office, but also, my clothes just did not make sense anymore. First, in my opinion, Sweden in general is not a very fashionable place, at least outside Stockholm. Second, no one really pays attention to other people’s appearance, which is one of the things I like the most about the local culture (I swear I could literally show up to work with blue dreadlocks and no one would say a thing). Third, my lifestyle just changed so much after moving here: I do not own a car, I bike or ride my electric moped to work, I spend so much time outside and, most of the time, I just want to feel cozy rather than stylish.

Fourth, the weather, especially in winter, can be very extreme. Just last week it was -15°C (5°F) for days in my city!

“Det finns inte dåligt väder bara dåliga kläder” is something all immigrants will hear upon moving to Sweden. It can be translated as “there is no bad weather, just bad clothes”, but it is also a way to say that there are no excuses not to strive for a very healthy, outdoorsy lifestyle. However, considering that I hate almost every kind of outdoor activity, from walking to hiking, the same year I moved to Sweden I purchased my first (vintage) fur coat.

I have been vegetarian (/vegan) for many years, and I stopped only when I realized that my choices were coming from a privileged position (OK, at some point I also started dating a guy that owned a burger place). I am still trying to conduct a life that is as sustainable as possible, and I am proud not to have purchased from fast fashion in years — unless it was an emergency, lost luggage and the like. However, my vegetarianism/veganism never applied to my clothing.

I always suspected that I am a big fan of vintage fashion because of a complex of inferiority due to the fact that, unlike my Italian friends, I never ‘inherited’ anything from my long-lost mother (not only because she was not a giving kind of person, but also — she literally grew up in a jungle). Anyways, in my opinion, the most sustainable alternative has been to buy either from artisans or from second hand stores, being careful to select things made from natural materials, including leather and other animal products. My reasoning is the following: things made out of leather (etc.) are super resistant and last more than a lifetime (as proven by the fact that I personally own things made before I was born), the animal was unlikely killed only to produce that specific accessory, if the item is vintage it was probably made by an artisan who likely loved their job and not by some exploited kid/woman in a sweatshop in Asia, they do not produce or shred the micro-plastics that are polluting the oceans and killing animals. Moreover, if we consider the alternative options, they are either completely synthetic or down feathers-stuffed jackets.

To go back to my fur coats, over the years I accumulated quite a number of them, and therefore I decided to put them up for sale along with other things I decided to get rid of. I have so far sold all over Europe through Depop, Marketplace and Tise, and I am also very satisfied with the results achieved so far — in one month I am halfway towards the goal I have set for all 2021! However, I could not help but notice that none of my fur coats is gone, despite most of my leather bags and other accessories are.

I know from real-life experience that furs are very frown upon, and I have no problems calling out this attitude as hypocritical.

As I mentioned before, isn’t it better to just honor the life of an animal that might have been killed decades ago by using its fur than to buy something new that is likely to come from a sweatshop or involves the killing of animals in the present — either to get their feathers and their fur or because of the depletion of their habitat?

To be clear: I would never buy something that has only an aesthetic purpose, e.g. piton shoes or crocodile bags. Also, I would never buy a contemporary fur, but only use what is already out there (and what I own could not be mistaken for a recent model). In Italy, I heard under similar discussions that ‘furs are inherited, not bough’ (‘le pellicce si ereditano, non si comprano’) and I think it something beautiful, that you can pass something like that from generation to generation. In this sense, I feel like I am ‘adopting’ some other (probably late) woman beloved garment — as you can tell by the almost immaculate conditions many of these pieces are.

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I research climate change & migration for a living. Here I write about everything else

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Alessandra Paiusco

Alessandra Paiusco

I research climate change & migration for a living. Here I write about everything else

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