Billie van Katwijk
By researching the product chain of the Dutch mink fur, I got inspired by the tension between the beauty and craft of the material on one hand, and the negative emotions that fur evokes on the other hand.
I researched the whole chain and focused on the Dutch mink. The Dutch mink farms are transparent and must adhere to strict national rules. The minks eat leftover products from the meat industry and therefor clear more then they produce. The mink, as opposed to the meat industry, have a fast painless death. I have seen how hens are kept for free range eggs and I've seen where milk and pork comes from and how those sheds look like. Compared to this the mink farm is a star hotel. In my opinion the minks are well treated.
I have learned to see the difference between a fur from a bad treated animal and of the one that had a good life. Once an animal has become badly treated or stressed it's immediately visible in his fur.
Additionally am in favour of real fur, in state of faux fur. A mink fur coat will last at least 25 years, and remains beautiful, is crafted and often has emotional value. Faux fur is made of plastic, oil, made by for instance children in Bangladesh, is sold at shops like H&M for 30 euros and after a year no longer beautiful.
I was impressed by the very long durability of mink fur and the craftsmanship, especially in vintage fur.
In my research I was surprised by the reactions from people around me. I've noticed that there are a lot of fur haters. Mainly because people can easily identify themselves with a cute soft animal. This identification I wanted to use in my design. Also, fur is a very luxurious material but there are also a lot of people that don’t value fur at all.
I saw a similarity with human body hair. Some parts are highly valued, and other parts are not at all. We have a whole range of beauty products for the hair on our head and on the other hand female armpit hair is often seen as dirty and not hygienic.
I made a visualization of literal identification. The female body is made of shaved vintage mink fur, with unschaved fur on the body hair places.