For the record...
The fur question is definitely one many vintage lovers have grappled with. Although it jars with our modern sensibilities and sensitivity to animal suffering, the historical reality is that actual vintage stoles and images of people wearing them are relics from a time when fur was worn by a much wider population of people and was extremely social acceptable. Fur is often associated with wealth and luxury of the upper classes, but judging from the fact that I've seen people of various classes wear pelts in historical imagery, I assume fur of various types was ubiquitous. I imagine this is in part because from a practical standpoint it was WARM. In the days before really effective central heating systems in houses, public buildings, and cars, I imagine fur kept one toasty.
Vintage fur is an important part of fashion history in a sense. IT reflects (and played a role in sustaining) the class system of the past. This is reflected in the fact that fur may have been worn by different classes of people for slightly different reasons. Amongst the elite (and those perhaps trying to dress like they belonged in the wealthier social circles), fur was also fashion statement. HOW "vermin" turned into high class fashion statement remains a mystery to me (and an amusing one at that).
A personal anecdote of how fur relates to class and social history. My grandfather and grandmother worked as mink ranch managers during the Depression when gainful employment was extremely scarce. In those days one took what work one could get to provide food and shelter for one's self and one's family. Among the farming community my grandparents were part of, animals like mink and fox were considered vermin because they would attack chickens, steal eggs, etc. Hunting was also an accepted norm (for food, not sport) so when it came about that they could make good money caring for animals that were going to be made into coats worth top dollar, financial necessity won out over ethics. It is easy to judge people of the past for being barbaric animal slayers, but when you put fur in its historical-cultural context, you get a different picture. In the case of my grandparents (who were actually great animal lovers and who really didn't wear fur but participated in its production), they couldn't afford the luxury of rejecting such a great job on moral principles.
As for my own modern vintage look, I simply do not like the feeling of fur against my skin (feels too much like my puppy is on my shoulders). I am a complete supporter of the ethical treatment of animals. However, I would not condemn someone else for wearing and loving their VINTAGE fur . That's fur that a long since deceased animal gave its life for. I would never support the modern fur industry in any way shape or form. I don't believe a new generation of animals needs to suffer. THat's my 25cents' worth. As an aside, I would argue that the bigger issue at hand for animal lovers these days is how animals are treated within the food industry (Food, Inc is a MUST see film if you feel passionately about the ethical treatment of animals). Where we get our milk, eggs, meat, etc from (and how animals are being used and abused during the production of these food items) becomes a much more immediate issue that needs our attention on a daily basis. I say this as a "flexi-tarian" with a commitment to the Slow Food and local food movements.