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Fur coats help Muscovites stay warm, or in fashion

Whether it comes from an outdoor market (top), a salon (middle), or the runway, Russian women love fur.
December 22, 1997
Web posted at: 2:25 p.m. EST (1925 GMT)

MOSCOW (CNN) -- As Muscovites bundle up against record low temperatures, some women consider fur coats to be the best way to keep out the bone-chilling cold -- despite concerns of animal rights activists elsewhere.

"This is what we call winter, dear. Russian winter. You won't survive without a fur coat in this country," one woman told CNN.

Fur coats are being offered at outdoor markets, fur warehouses, stylish fur salons, or in almost endless informercials on television.

The commercials praise fur coats as charming and as a garment impossible not to love because fur is, as advertisers say, simply perfect.

On a warm September day last year, three scantily-dressed publicity-seeking young women from Britain, Canada and Russia, staged a headline-grabbing anti-fur protest, proclaiming: "We'd rather go naked than wear fur."

But during the cold, cold, cold month of December, there was no such protest to be heard or seen in Moscow.

While Moscow's women are not immune to protests by such environmental organizations as Greenpeace, they clearly are not too worried: "I anticipate a Greenpeace attack. But I don't care. I like furs," one women commented during a fashion show.

"I think fur makes any woman look more attractive. It gives you that unique warm feeling, like a second skin," she said.

"Excuse me, but I feel like a consumer," said another, more elderly, fur lover.

And there appears to be a growing trend in which businesswomen not only choose their favorite fur coat, but pay for it themselves.

And while some customers buy a new coat every year to keep up with the latest style, color and fashion -- quality can also be an argument. "I'd rather pay more and buy something more substantial," said one potential buyer.

So what about animal rights?

"Don't tell me about America, about Greenpeace and all that," one woman told CNN. As the weather report said: it's just plain cold in Moscow.

Correspondent Betsy Aaron contributed to this report.

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