Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Local Newscast
Hear the latest from the WRKF/WWNO Newsroom.

Mink Is The New Black


The past couple decades, fur in America has been out of fashion after PR campaigns highlighted cruel mink farming practices. Though it was probably supermodels posing naked, insisting they would rather be nude than wear fur, that really caught most people's attention. But anyone watching Fashion Week saw fur showing up on the runways recently. It was everywhere - mink at Marc Jacobs, fox at Michael Kors.

We wondered, is fur really back? Robin Givhan is the Pulitzer Prize-winning fashion columnist for The Washington Post. And we asked her, what's been the push to bring mink back?

ROBIN GIVHAN: There was a little bit of a cabal, probably, to bring fur back. The fur industry would give designers pelts or give them pelts at a greatly reduced price so that they could experiment. And what designers learned is that you could use fur in a way that was very similar to fabric - that it could drape; that it could be very fine; that it could be used to tailor things like skirts and dresses and not just outerwear. So that certainly helped push fur back into the spotlight. But, you know, I will say that certainly there's been impact because brands like Stella McCartney, you know, she doesn't use fur. She doesn't use leather in her handbags or in her footwear. So there's still an element of that kind of issuing of fur and leather, but, at least for Stella McCartney, for much broader reasons.

MARTIN: Clearly, she's got a really big following.


MARTIN: Do they follow her because of her designs or is it partly because of what is, I imagine, a political position?

GIVHAN: Yeah I think it's a combination of both. Ultimately, people judge you by your product. And if the product isn't good, they're not going to buy it. And one of Stella McCartney's strengths is that her product is really good. So whether or not you have a political concern about the use of animal products in your clothing, you're still drawn to it because it's a beautiful product. And I think that that's when you'll start to see a really lasting impact, when there's not this differentiation between sort of correct fashion and the rest of fashion. Like, it all sort of is one of the same.

MARTIN: What was the best, most provocative or most creative use of fur that you saw in this year's Fashion Week?

GIVHAN: You know, one of my favorite pieces was a color-blocked mink coat at Oscar de la Renta. This was the first collection that Peter Copping had done for the de la Renta brand since the namesake passed away last fall. It was a very simply cut coat, but the sleeves were kind of a shade of caramel and the body was sort of a butterscotch hue. So it was very subtle in terms of the color blocking. And the mink was cut very close so that it didn't have this big, voluminous look to it. So in a weird way, the mink was actually quite understated. But it certainly speaks to all the different ways in which you can manipulate the fur.

MARTIN: Robin Givhan writes about fashion for The Washington Post. She joined us from our studios in New York. OK, Robin, thanks so much.

GIVHAN: Thank you. It was a pleasure. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.