Joel Loera, 20, studies advertising at Columbia College and works part-time at Barneys New York. He also has a line of hand-painted and -embroidered T-shirts that he sells at a boutique in his native Saint Louis; he's looking for a Chicago outlet.
Heather Kenny: You don't see a lot of men wearing fur these days, but you've got a couple fur things--a vintage jacket and a Juicy Couture fur-lined hoodie.
Joel Loera: I have a lady that I work with at Neiman Marcus in Saint Louis. She's my saleslady--she'll call me if stuff comes in. Yeah, it's sad. They all know me by name. So I came in to look at some jeans, and she said, I want you to look at this fur jacket we have. She just thought it was my style. It's rabbit fur. You can reverse it and it looks like you have a fur vest on. I love to feel it, so I usually wear it against my skin. I have a white leather jacket that I wear under it sometimes. The other one I got at Ragstock. It was only $35. By the style of it I would probably say it's from the 60s. I'm not sure what kind of fur it is. It might be rabbit, it might be fox. It's really warm. My friend Madison, she makes fur jackets. I talked to her last night about making me a sheared mink scarf.
HK: Fur for women is perennially popular--why isn't it the same for men?
JL: People are so scared of it because they would be considered gay or whatever. But I think people now are realizing that just because someone's stylish, it doesn't determine their sexual orientation. People are realizing it's OK to be well dressed and have a little luxury in your life without having it determine trivial stuff like that.
HK: Are you afraid of negative reactions from animal lovers?
JL: I haven't had anybody say anything to my face, but I've definitely gotten looks. I was talking to one of my coworkers about that last week. We were saying we love animals--that's not the issue. But there's a million rabbits out there.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Saverio Truglia.