Let me start by reiterating that I personally don't have a problem with vintage fur. Although PETA's campaigning has given most of modern society a revulsion of fur I'd rather the old stuff be worn and enjoyed than be tossed out and end up on the scrap heap and in landfill - to me that shows less respect for the animal that died than wearing it and appreciating it. Equally, adding unneccessarily to landfill is both bad for the environment and against all the principles of "make do and mend" and "reduce, re-use, recycle" that are the basis of ethical fashion. Furthermore, if you consider the environmental cost of manufacturing new faux fur to replace that vintage mink coat you just threw out, it becomes decidedly un-eco - doubly so when the new faux fur will wear out and need replacing long before the mink would. These are the key issues for me and for other wearers - including vegetarians and vegans - of vintage fur.
That said, it has been suggested that interest in vintage fur might be turning the tide of acceptability of modern fur: After PETA's high-profile, supermodel-fronted campaigning in the 90s, fur fell dramatically from mainstream fashion favour, but there's a risk that vintage fur might be leading people to become comfortable with the idea once more, fuelling the modern industry.
I'm not an advocate of new fur, mostly to do with the conditions in which animals are kept and killed: just as I insist on free-range chicken (and always have done), I think it's important to recognise welfare standards for animals killed for their pelts, and the difference between free range fur versus factory farming. One commenter on facebook (who I won't name in case she doesn't want to enter the debate publicly!) said, "I feel that [organisations like] PETA place so much emphasis on not using animals at all, that there is no debate left on the standards used in production for those who are non-vegan. Their aggressive tactics and narrow span closes off debate rather than opening it up." One answer might be to campaign for stricter regulations regarding animal welfare in the fur trade, rather than intimidating the innocent customers of second hand shops.
But to bring us back to the central issue of vintage fur, to what extent does the eco-friendliness of vintage fur outweigh concerns about modern fur production? Where do you draw the line? I'm easily able to justify vintage fur on the basis of eco considerations, but find myself squeamish about new fur. Do you come down on the side of the eco, reduce/re-use/recycle aspect, or is all fur (and leather) evil? Would you happily wear vintage fur but balk at modern? Do you consider the fur and leather trades on a par with the meat industry? I'm aware this is an incredibly touchy subject, and many people have very strong feelings on the issue, so I'd ask that you (pretty please) try to keep the comments from becoming too inflammatory.