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From coat to leg warmers: Charlie Franklin’s first day of reconstruction

From coat to leg warmers: Charlie Franklin’s first day of reconstruction


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By Jelena Djurkic
Journalism student, Ryerson University

Charlie Franklin has never worked with fur before. But as she pours over a rack of fur coats at a
local manufacturer’s store, she seems completely at home.

The third-year Ryerson University fashion design student got her first coat only a couple of years
ago. It was a $60 brown mink, bought from a vintage shop.

“I wore it to a wedding and it was the coldest day, really rainy and windy, but I was completely
warm,” said Franklin.

As I talk to her for the first time, she’s sporting a grey coat with a raccoon trim. On her purple
handbag hangs a silver fox tail key ring. This is a girl who likes her fur.

A few days later, we’re in one of the labs at Ryerson University’s School of Fashion. It’s 7 p.m.
and Franklin is getting ready to start her first piece for the FuRRR Real Project – a pair of leg

Another fashion design student walks in and asks what we’re doing. When we tell her about
the project, she looks over at the black mink coat Franklin found at a Goodwill at Bloor and
Sherbourne for about $20. “This is amazing,” she says as she feels the pelt. “I would totally wear

As we start to talk about reconstructing fur, I ask Franklin if wearing fur is “inherently” bad.

“I don’t think it’s the fur that’s the problem. It’s people’s attitudes towards waste,” said Franklin.
She speaks of synthetic coats that come and go with the seasons. She says that people don’t often
think about where their clothing ends up after they’re done with them.

After a fur backlash in the ‘90s – some say due to PETA and other’s activist groups’ aggressive
campaigns (red paint, anyone?) – fur has made a comeback. It’s currently a $800 million
business in Canada and designs with fur are popping back on the runways, including during last
March’s Toronto Fashion Week when IZMA, a fur line from designer Izzy Camilleri and fashion
journalist Adrian Mainella, was featured as the first show of the week.

Franklin sits at the fur sewing machine in the lab. She’s taken the sleeves of the old mink coat to
make the leg warmers. Sadly, the machine isn’t cooperating. The thread is too loose and Franklin
can’t seem to make it work. It’s almost nine o’clock. We break for the night.

So how did the leg warmers turn out? Stay tuned for more on Twitter @Furrrreal