NEW YORK — There’s fur, there’s fake, and then there’s shearling.
Some designers may have shied away from using fur in their collections and jumped on the fake bandwagon for fall, but shearling — a combination fur and leather product — remains above the political fray.
Such designers as Calvin Klein, Donna Karan and Isaac Mizrahi, none of whom included conventional fur in their fall collections, did show shearling.
While shearling coats and trims are made from the hide and the fur of the animal — usually lamb — animal activists haven’t gone after manufacturers or designers who use shearling with nearly the same voracity as they do fur companies.
“While we oppose the use of animals for food or clothing, we are targeting fur,” said a spokeswoman for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). “We campaign against leather, wool, fur and silk.”
She said that while PETA would love to see an end to the use of shearlings and leather, “fur is an easy place to start,” she said. “What we’re asking of designers now is not to use fur, maybe we’ll go for shearling and leather next.”
But many in the fur industry find this take rather confusing.
“The entire issue they [PETA] propagate is a joke,” said Larry Schulman, vice president of Alixandre. “They selectively aim their attacks on certain items and not others. It’s a farce.”
“To single out fur from leather and shearlings is simply ludicrous,” said Karen Handel, director of media relations and governmental affairs at the Fur Information Council of America. “There is no difference.”
One rationale for the difference in perception is that shearlings are generally considered a by-product of the animal, secondary to the meat that’s used for food.
“Obviously, this is something most of us don’t like to talk about,” said Steve Blatt, president and owner of Searle Blatt Ltd., which carries shearlings and fake furs in its coat and sportswear collections.
“For every fur being used as a trim on a coat, 20 more coats are using fakes. Fake seems to be the way we are going. All of the fakes at the runway shows — I don’t think that was by chance; that was deliberate.”