Sunday, April 12, 2009

"Cruelty on the Catwalk"

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I was curious after doing my research on Hamid Karzai, if the hat he wore had any religious significance. Here's what I learned about the fur his hat is made from:
Karakul Lamb Fur: As if peddling the skin and fur of a tortured, electrocuted adult animal weren’t bad enough, some heartless designers take fashion cruelty to a whole new level with a particularly grisly “killer” look: astrakhan, also known as “broadtail” or “Persian wool”—the fur of newborn and fetal karakul lambs who are bred by the thousands in Central Asia for the bloody fur trade. Because their unique, highly prized curly fur begins to unwind and straighten within three days of birth, many karakul lambs are slaughtered when they are only 1 or 2 days old. The rest don’t even make it that far. In order to get a karakul fetus’s hide—called “broadtail” in the industry and valued for its exceptional smoothness—the mother’s throat is slit and her stomach slashed open to remove the developing lamb. A mother typically gives birth to three lambs before being slaughtered along with her fourth fetus, about 15 to 30 days before it is due to be born. As many as 4 million karakul lambs are slaughtered for their fur every year. The fur industry tries to justify karakul lamb fur as a byproduct, but with a single karakul lamb coat selling for up to $12,000 and “broadtail” fetus coats fetching as much as $25,000, it’s little surprise that the mother sheep and her baby’s skinned carcass are usually regarded simply as trash. And who’s profiting from such disgusting cruelty? Designers Karl Lagerfeld, Fendi, Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, and Jean-Paul Gaultier use astrakhan, and Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdale’s sell it on their own racks. But fashionistas with a heart aren’t buying it. Claudia Croft, fashion editor of the Sunday Times Style Magazine in London recently called astrakhan “the cruelest and most vicious fur.” And “Material Girl” Madonna hasn’t been seen in her astrakhan coat since designer pal Stella McCartney scolded her for “wearing a fetus.”
What can you do about karakul lamb fur? Don’t buy or wear ANY fur. If you see karakul lamb fur for sale, write to the store owners or managers, let them know where it comes from, and urge them to pull it from the shelves. If you read an article about karakul lamb fur in a newspaper or magazine, write a letter to the editor.



Anonymous said...

Get over yourself.

Anonymous said...

Actually, I had the same negative reaction you did initially until I read an interview with one of the afghan sheep herders who keeps karakul.

What he basically explained was that, ewes only have so many lamb's before they are unable to survive well in the harsh conditions, and each shepherd can only support so many sheep. Also, they can only support so many lambs with the scarce feed they have. So when the ewe is on her last lamb, they kill the ewe and lamb, which seems cruel, but otherwise with the new lambs they have, they would not have been able to provide enough for them. Also, this karakul lamb's pelt then allows for the shepherd to make just that much more income to feed his own family.

So really, yes, to us in the west it may seem repellent, but to someone who lives a hardscrabble life where the threats of death are all to imminent to his family as much as his livestock, its hard to really be that outraged.