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I enjoy crafting leather armour. As part of an Orc design I am going for, I would like to buy some animal fur to complete the brutish/primal look. I have bought several faux furs off ebay, but they either look incredibly cheap, or they "shed" a lot of hair. So I turned to authentic animal furs, which definitely look much better.

I decided to google around and see whether some furs are the byproduct of keeping an animal for other purposes such as consumption- i.e. I am trying not to support any farms that hold animals just for pelts. A lot of the furs on ebay are rabbit fur. In some of the item descriptions, the sellers explain what the rabbits are kept for and it seems harmless to buy some.

But I remain unsure of the practice of selling fur and whether it might be unfairly demonised (and is actually not that bad), or whether there is no such thing as "ethical fur". So I relay that question to other crafts(wo)men that may have used fur in the past or have some more experience with it.

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    Considering that many of the people who are anti-fur are also vegan, I don't know that farmed rabbit fur is something they would consider "ethical". – Catija Feb 23 '17 at 16:24
  • Roadkill + a local taxidermist? I assume a taxidermist could prepare a pelt. Or roadkill + DIY? – Chris H Feb 23 '17 at 16:41
  • I guess I'm not sure what you're asking here. Is there a specific ethical framework we should answer under, because the comments and existing answers are all using different ones (and real ethical frameworks of animal use range from none at all, not even imitation fur and leather, to everything is fair game). Or are you asking if there's something like Fair Trade Certification or Organic, as in an industry certification or standards? – Web Head Feb 23 '17 at 22:10
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Rework an antique fur coat!

My grandmother keeps encouraging me to take hers, which I really don't want -- but the point is there may be many other such coats that used to be valued and sought after, but are now of very little interest to most potential wearers. Asking around thrift stores or estate sale agents may give some leads; even if they would typically discard such items due to probable disinterest, letting them know you're interested means they could inform you next time an old coat is available.

If it's significantly damaged (moths, mold, just old age), all the better: it is unlikely to have any further use as a coat, but could readily be repurposed into accents on a costume. This is perhaps the most ethical use of all: you're not resulting in any new animals dying (even if humanely raised and slaughtered), but instead salvaging something that would otherwise end up in a landfill.

(But like anything ethical, it's sort of down to your personal perspective and comfort level. There's also an argument to be made that if it wasn't humane and ethical in the first place, it isn't now just because decades passed between the animal's demise and your use of its pelt.)

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When I was in New Zealand they sold possum fur as 'doing your thing to make our country better.' Possums being a pest and without predators in the country.

There are likely other countries with animals which are a real pest and get hunted, skinned and prepared as fur.

If you do happen to know people who hunt for food, who prepare their pelts and are willing to sell or share, you might be able to get a much wider range of fur than you would by just going to shops.
I live in a country where only very few people hunt, so I only know this from books and internet.

  • In some areas of the US this is the case with raccoons (they carry rabies and are attracted to garbage). I recently saw a reddit post where the user had to get rid of a few, and ended up making a coonskin cap. IMO, better than killing the animal and not using it at all. – user812786 Feb 24 '17 at 14:30
  • Finding a "deer processor" may be a resource, too, as many hunters don't dress their own game (and many of those may not be interested in the pelt, just the venison). – Erica Feb 24 '17 at 19:24
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I'll note that I've not used these products myself. I'm neither vegan nor anti-fur, so the information is based on my understanding of the fur/leather issue.


You're already making leather armor. Many of the people who are anti-fur are often also anti-leather because they're technically the same thing. While you might certainly attract a few other people (if only for marketing reasons) by offering "ethical" fur that was a byproduct of food rabbits production, I doubt that you're necessarily going to attract that many additional people. You also have to consider that the variety of rabbit used for food and those used for fur may not be the same.

Here's an interesting point of view from The Guardian:

Which is worse? If this were the Ethical Olympics, leather would win on a technicality, being a byproduct of the meat industry. In the minds of many, this makes it OK.

Perhaps because we sanction most leathers, we haven’t come up with a convincing alternative: pleather jostles for space with less impactful versions of real leather, like e-leather (made from scraps), Lite leather (which uses less energy to produce) and even vegetable-tanned leather.

So, if leather wins on a technicality, I guess fur from food rabbits would fall into the same category. Other products that might be in this similar group would be sheepskin and (possibly) goat. Angora goats are often used for fibers in the same way sheep wool is used.


There is another solution. Have you really looked at a wide variety of faux fur products? Some of them must be pretty good if major brand designers are using them. I strongly recommend that you not find them on Ebay... most sellers on Ebay are Chinese companies selling low-quality product. Do some research and find quality sellers, hopefully someone who will even send you samples.

  • Thank you for this answer. I have chosen a different one to accept, but you have highlighted the possible hypocrisy of supporting animal use for some means, but not another. I hadn't thought of that before. – marts Feb 24 '17 at 20:49
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    @marts Be careful about using shedding as an indication of quality. Faux fur always sheds a HUGE amount when it is cut, but once all of that loose material is removed, there should be little shedding at all. Determining the quality of a faux fur while cutting is like looking at a tree in November, with only a few dead leaves hanging, and deciding whether or not you like that type of tree based on its appearance at that moment. I would go back and re-examine the faux stuff you have that did shed--it might not be such a bad quality after all. – magerber Feb 24 '17 at 22:04
  • @magerber That seems like a comment better suited to the question, not my answer? – Catija Feb 24 '17 at 22:08
  • Possibly, but I was really thinking about it more as additional information to help the OP determine the quality of the material s/he was using--which was something that you flagged as important in your answer. – magerber Feb 24 '17 at 22:33
  • @magerber Fair enough :) – Catija Feb 24 '17 at 22:35

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