02/11/2016 01:24 EST | Updated 02/11/2017 05:12 EST

The Great Fur Debate: 5 Ways To Make Up Your Mind

A model in a white fur coat poses during a photo shoot on a rooftop.
Marianna Massey via Getty Images
A model in a white fur coat poses during a photo shoot on a rooftop.

Fur is luxurious.

It's style-wise, culturally enduring and socially debated. Old money, new money and bourgeoisie in between, we love fur, if not just the look of fur.

Fur also happens to be the most debated fashion topic.

To Fur or Not To Fur? That is the question.

How do you decide?

Armed with the facts, here are five ways to make up your mind:

1. Get to know fur.

To do so requires reconnecting with its roots. The fascinating practice of wearing fur is a long-lived tradition for several native cultures around the world. From Russia to Africa, fur began as a desirable byproduct of animals hunted for sustaining daily life. In fact, the commercial fur trade was only born much later in when native Canadian furriers bartered it for other European goods. Today, it is sold through two main sources: large-scale commercial retailers and native or artisanal furriers. In all production methods, animals are skinned for their fur and carcasses either redeployed for other uses or composted.

2. Not all fur is created equal.

As with all industries, there are governance bodies and organizations that promote best practices. Origin Assured provides consumers with information, and a list of retailers by country that are notably compliant with local fur production practices and regulations. If you seek comfort over the production of your fur (not a bad idea given the importance of quality and the value of your investment), you would benefit from checking it out the website, and learning more about the furriers.

3. Don't rush your purchase.

Fur is a hands-on experience. It's important to get a feel for each type of fur, the construction, dyes used, and the tenure of the furrier. In deciding where to visit, here's a good place to start with purchase tips and reliable retailers. As a general rule, avoid over-processed furs. And like all fashion investments, you need to set aside some time and money to properly clean and store your fur.

4. Beware 'vegan' furs.

When considering synthetic furs, you really need to question the nature of the material being used. Plastic, polyester, nylon and other common synthetic materials are made from petroleum, a product of oil refinement, which is not only energy-intensive, it's not biodegradable, and non-renewable as a resource. And unless synthetic furs are made from recycled materials, they require new oil extraction which comes with an environmental price tag. Take a couple of extra moments to really understand the material being used if you're opting for vegan products. You may not like the production process, but fur is indeed a natural, biodegradable and renewable resource. Some furriers, like Canada's Harricana by Mariouche work exclusively with recycled and vintage fur to eliminate environmental impact and upcycle.

5. Fur is a good investment.

If you've satisfied yourself with the notion of wearing fur products, the very simple answer is that fur is a good investment. When sourced from a quality furrier, a good fur is an eternal fashion staple. It can be restyled into new silhouettes and colours, and passed it down to future generations. Fur real.

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