Because you can't have depths without surfaces.
Linda Grant, thinking about clothes, books and other matters.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Where did you get that hat, where did you get that hat?

Vivienne Westwood wants to design an ethical alternative:

Peta campaigners had spoken to people watching the guards at Buckingham Palace about the use of the skins of Canadian black bears to make their hats.

"Most people think it's fake fur and when they find out it's real and it takes one bear to make a hat, they are appalled."

A spokeswoman for the MoD said: "The MoD is not opposed to the use of synthetic materials as an alternative to bearskins, provided such materials meet the requirement for a high quality product that performs adequately in all weather conditions. Regrettably, a suitable alternative continues to prove elusive."


Kuri said...

I really wish any of these articles about the hats would say how long one of them lasts with typical use. If they are long-wearing, then it's perfectly fine to harvest black bears for them, provided they do so from ethical harvesters. Given the lack of detail, it's hard to make any kind of logical judgement on the matter.

phyllis said...

Sounds like a good idea to me. Fake fur would be much lighter in weight, more comfortable to wear and more consistent in appearance. Just compare the first trooper on the right to the two behind him! The one on the first guy looks like he slept in it, and the two behind him are definitely better groomed.

greying pixie said...

If Vivienne Westwood is onto this, then the fur or fake issue is bound to come up. This could turn even nastier than the US election strand!

lagatta à montréal said...

kuri is right; we need more information. I don't believe the black bears are an endangered species, but that and methods of killing them must be looked into.

The Grenadier Guards in Ottawa wear the bearskin hats as well.

Also interesting to see whether all useable parts of the bear carcass are harvested. I'm not a militant vegetarian or a PETA type, but I'm appalled by killing animals just for a specific body part (antlers, paws, penis, whatever) and leaving the rest to rot.

And greying, indeed there are serious environmental problems with some of the alternatives to fur and leather, so it is quite the can of worms. However I think ethics of fashion are legitimate issues on a dress and culture board (though of course the decision is Linda Grant's).

Though perhaps the Guards could wear smart cachmere hats, eh?

Bobbi said...

Black Bears are not an endangered species in Western Canada, they are prolific. There are a particularly dangerous form of foraging rat, and I am sick of having massive traps all over the orchards and back yards where I live. The pests are attacking people in suburban neighborhoods here in British Columbia, and the people are coming out a lot worse for it.

With the number each year that can't be re-habituated and must be put down, there must be close to enough skins from that source alone.

Toby Wollin said...

For me, the question comes down to how they are sourcing their skins. The problem at this point is that bears really have no natural predators any longer and are a genuine danger to lives and property, especially in areas where residential housing is too closely spaced for there to be hunting in the area. I know, personally, people whose homes and outbuildings have been broken into by bears on a repeated basis. If government is culling, I should think the bear skin hat business would be taken care of strictly through that alone.