Is Virtual Faux Fox Fur Fashion Still Not Faux Enough?
Iris Ophelia's ongoing review of virtual world and MMO fashion
While real fur fashion items have become politically controversial in the past few decades, faux fur is still popular, especially in Winter. All the better when that faux fur is extra-faux, existing only as a virtual fashion object in Second Life, right? Not according to the swaths of angry SLers who IMed Anya Ohmai about her release for this month's Collabor88 fashion sale. When I saw her plush fox scarf (a must-have item from this month's Collabor88, in my opinion), I assumed that some people wouldn't like it. I just didn't expect the level of drama that Anya shared on her Plurk:
"I just got a ton of people IMing me saying that I'm a fox killer," she wrote the day after the release. Worse still, some were harassing people who bought her well-made, super cheap, mega-adorable scarf. In designing the scarf, Anya even gave it unrealistic proportions so it would look more like a plush toy than a realistic animal. There's plenty of plush animal-inspired fashion in SL, so what's the big deal with this fox wrap? Well...
Unlike plush animal hats, backpacks, or even scarves of any other animal, the history and past popularity of rather gruesome looking fox-fur stoles (which had heads and paws still attached in some cases) means that Anya's scarf hit a nerve. It can be argued that even faux fur (and virtual fur by extension) still promote fur as fashion, but we have to draw a line somewhere. Would you call the creator of this real life vegan wool fox scarf a murderer, and how is Anya's creation really any different?
Whether we like it or not, fur and animal products are a part of human history, and fashion is no exception. Is it better to erase and ignore that chapter of our culture, or embrace and rework it to our current standards? Honestly, there are far more imminent threats to the lives of Second Life's indigenous fauna than this sweet little scarf-- what about virtual leather?
Iris Ophelia (Janine Hawkins IRL) has been featured in the New York Times and has spoken about SL-based design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan and with pop culture/fashion maven Johanna Blakley.