Celebrating the Roaring Twenties in a Special Series
Since time immemorial human beings have coveted beautiful things, and drawn to adorn themselves in them – for warmth, modesty, status and simple pleasure.
Regardless of one’s stance on the use of genuine fur in clothing, one cannot deny the beauty and opulence of animal fur: gorgeously patterned and gloriously coloured, glossy, reflective, soft and silky, comforting and cosy. In the bitter cold, nothing keeps one as warm as luxurious, natural fur – except perhaps a heated luxury car.
As a matter of survival, sealskin pelts were first used for clothing by Inuits who hunted the animal for food. Archaeological evidence suggests Native Americans and First Nations People of Canada have been hunting seals for 4000 years. The pelt is waterproof – not surprisingly – and was used to make jackets, gloves and boots. The seafaring Vikings were known to have worn them also.
The Little Ice Age of 14th century Europe created a great demand for fur – most luxury fur came from Russia. In 1515, the first commercial cargo of fur seal skins were sent from Uruguay to Spain for sale in the markets of Seville. Used for sporting apparel in the early twentieth century, sealskin was beginning to become passé by the 1920s. But it is still used today by a few fashion houses, including Prada, Gucci and Louis Vuitton.
Genuine sealskin does have a beautiful sheen, but for those who would prefer to leave the fur on the seals and don’t need the boots for that trek across the icy tundra on their way to work in the morning, vintage faux fur is the way to wear. Even panné velvet mimics the look amazingly well, as can be seen in these vintage and modern examples below. So recycle, buy vintage and be nice to the seals and the planet.