Save the Animals?
I want to say for the record that we do not, in any way, endorse the mistreatment of animals. We do, however, eat plenty of beef, pork, chicken, what have you, and wear leather, etc. It's like there's an unspoken taboo against certain uses of fur and leather, and the lines are difficult to define at times.
As for leather, the problem is not so much that it's cruel to the cow. The cow is bred to be food anyway, so you might as well also use its hide for clothing. It's head-to-toe leather, or sleazy pieces like a leather vest that make me cringe. If you ride a motorcycle regularly, then by all means, wear a lot of leather - it will protect you in an accident. However, for the rest of us, a little leather goes a long way. Leather shoes are among the better quality shoes - they last longer and support your foot better. Leather belts are pretty standard, and again, last longer. Suede is also a very nice material to use in coats, shoes and jackets, but beware not to wear them in the rain. On the whole, I support the use of leather. For those who oppose leather, however, you can always get pleather, although I'm not sure if that type of person opposes the principle as well as the material. Sort of a "put off the appearance of evil" situation. Now, pleather won't last as long, and it doesn't have the feel of leather, but if you want a pair of pants to wear once in a while to go clubbing in (girls only - guys, don't even try it), pleather is a good, cheap option.
I have a hard time supporting the use of furs in most cases. When I see a terribly rich person walking down the street with a huge fur coat on, I just think of excess. I think of animals bred and killed for no other purpose than to put a coat on a woman who could afford to buy any manner of coat she wanted. If this were frontier days, and you needed to keep warm in the winter, then yes, kill the bear and make a tent out of him. But this is the 21st century, and we have many other methods of warming ourselves outside. Let's be inventive and use some of them. I mean, the coat at right is made out of coyote. Coyote. What's the status behind wearing coyote? That being said, I suppose little bits of fur here and there can be nice, but it seems foolish to kill a whole animal just to make a trim on a jacket, with a notable exception being angora. I know it's mean, but bunny fur makes great sweaters. I think that's the public's main idea - if it's useful, tasteful and appropriate, then go ahead. That's why I'll eat a cheeseburger, but not veal. I won't go into the gory details, but it's just not right what they do to baby cows. Other people are more like don't ask don't tell individuals; as long as they don't have to see the process, they don't mind getting the finished product.
I can't completely side with animal activists, however, because their methods are a little strange. I mean, throwing paint on a coat because they are wearing an animal hide does little else than to anger the people who bought it. It's not going to assist the plight of the animal. Thoughtful protest and intelligent debate are what will change people's minds, and the recent "I love Earth" phase we went through in the 90s went a long way to accomplishing that. Of course, the more recent "I love Bling" phase is changing things around again, but you can't win them all. The moral of this story is, as always, moderation. You can get a faux fur-trimmed coat a lot cheaper and not look a lot cheaper, like the one at right. Sure, you can tell it's not real fur, but does that really matter? All that does is prove that you are rich, and no one who is noticing cares.