On this page we provide information on how to tell if fur is real or fake,  the truth about ‘ethical’ fur and a link to shops in Harrogate whose policy it is and isn’t to sell real fur.

Fur faux’s sake, isn’t it about time, in this day and age, that real fur finally became a  relic of the past? It’s not as if people don’t know that animals are raised and killed in horrendous conditions or trapped in the wild to fulfil their fashion whims. Follow this link to our ‘Hall of Shame’ of Harrogate shops that insist on continuing to sell real fur, as well as a list of ‘Faux Heroes’; shops in our lovely spa town whose policy it is not to sell the real stuff. You can decide which of these you wish to boycott and those you wish to support, and we also provide in the link a template letter to send to fur-selling shops, with contact details (but better still, go in to the shop and make your thoughts known!) Beware, some of the shops will come back to you with the argument that their fur is ‘ethical’. Please scroll down for the truth about this. Public pressure really does work, as documented in the recent decision by the Kooples to drop angora:


There is no such thing as cruelty-free or ethical fur, no matter what people tell you, and more worrying still, there has been a recent spate of real fur being sold as fake, for example in the sports chain store, Sports Direct, and even on Harrogate hight street. Throughout the Winter period there has been a stand trading what appears to be real fur bobble hats, mainly on Fridays and Saturdays, outside Holland and Barrett in Harrogate. We have asked Trading Standards to investigate, as the owner has told several people that the fur is fake, but some labels state that it is marmot fur. Also, the hats are made in China, which raises the question as to the welfare of the animals used and also point to it being possibly cat, dog or rabbit fur, the most common fur exported out of China. This man also appears to change the prices he charges for the hats on a regular basis.

Beware of this street trader in Harrogate. He appears to be selling real fur as ‘fake’.
The label in this supposedly fake fur pompom hat reads ‘marmot’
This trader selling real fur as fake on Kirkgate in Leeds was recently investigated by trading standards and closed down due to public complaints.

I do not want to flood this page with graphic pictures that are just going to depress readers, but here is a short summary of what happens to an animal to get that bit of fur onto that bobble hat, gilet, keyring or whatever!

  • Eighty-five percent of the fur industry’s skins come from animals who were captive on fur factory farms, where they are crammed into severely crowded, filthy wire cages and later often skinned alive. The most common way to kill a fur animal is by anal electrocution (which often doesn’t finish the job, with animals being skinned alive).
  • There are no penalties for people who abuse animals on fur farms in China, which is the world’s largest fur exporter, yes including to the UK.
  • One billion rabbits are killed each year so that their fur can be used in clothing or for lures in fly-fishing or trim on craft items.
  • In China, more than 2 million cats and hundreds of thousands of dogs are bludgeoned, hanged, bled to death, and often skinned alive for their fur. It is generally impossible to know if the fur you are wearing is not cat, dog or rabbit (if you have a preference!).
  • There is never anything sustainable about fur. Dangerous components of waste from faeces and urine pollute nearby rivers and streams, whether animals are raised solely for their fur (which most are) or also for their meat.
  • After an animal has been slaughtered, his or her skin is treated with toxic chemicals to keep it from rotting and decomposing in the buyer’s closet.

Having a low price tag is no guarantee that fur is not real. It is so cheap these days to produce cat, dog and rabbit fur in China that it often out-competes the faux stuff.

The pictures below are from Scandinavian and Irish fur farms, so don’t think that fur produced in Europe is a lot better. Fur farms are illegal in the UK (apart from in Ireland), and yet we still import the stuff. According to the Gov.uk website, the only kind of fur on which there is an import ban is from endangered animals, i.e. that of baby Harp seals or fur from animals caught in leg-hold traps. So great – keeping an animal imprisoned in a cage all its life and then anally electrocuting it is actually ok??!!

Check out this excellent guide from Humane Society International on how to tell whether fur is real or fake:


Minker i bur minkfarm

Can Fur Ever be Ethical?

At least two fur-selling shops in Harrogate, Sophie Likes and Toast, seem to think they can justify selling real fur because it is ‘ethical’ in that it is a by-product of the meat industry (i.e. is killed anyway) . Whether or not these stores really believe this to be the case, or if they are merely using this to pacify complainers, we don’t really know, but here is a statement by Animal Aid in answer to these claims.

Fur that is sold commercially is rarely a by-product of the meat industry so if this is a reply used by the seller to justify selling fur, ask to see actual proof of this. Secondly, the fur would still be coming from a farm – do they audit the farms? If it is fur coming as a by-product from a farm, then it is likely that it would be rabbit fur either from Spain or Italy, where most of Europe’s rabbit meat comes from. Animal Equality have done countless investigations into the rabbit meat industry in these countries and, as always, found horrific scenes – therefore by purchasing the fur from these farms they would still be supporting horrific animal cruelty. One such example would be this one: https://www.animalequality.net/news/623/new-undercover-investigation-reveals-cruelty-inside-rabbit-farms-linked-uk

This Respect for Animals article covers the misconceptions of the ‘by-product myth’: https://www.respectforanimals.co.uk/facts-and-reports/rabbit-fur-the-facts/73/ – in short, the rabbits slaughtered for meat are killed too early for their coats to be thick enough to make a garment, unless possibly to make small amounts of trim, such as on pom-poms.