The future of fashion is looking fur-free as an increasing number of luxury fashion brands have banned the use of fur in their products.
Looking back, fur has been a staple in luxury fashion — garments such as mink coats and fox scarves were regarded as status symbols amongst celebrities and the upper class who wished to flaunt their image and wealth.
However, this has sparked multiple outcries over the years by animal rights groups such as PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and the FFA (Fur Free Alliance), which saw activists staging protests and openly condemning public figures who wore or produced fur garments. Beyond this passionate bunch, consumers too, have become more vocal in demanding major corporations to conduct ethical, cruelty-free practices.
PETA revealed in an article that a shocking 85 per cent of the fur industry’s skins come from animals on fur factory farms, and these farms often have little regard for the environment and the animals’ well-being. It also quoted a report from the World Bank, citing that "the process of fur dressing is ranked one of the world’s five worst industries for toxic-metal pollution.”
Far from being a natural resource, #fur production is an intensely toxic and energy-consumptive process, with pelts being dipped in #toxic chemical soups and farm waste runoff polluting soil and waterways ⚠️🌍#furisnotgreen More facts➡️ https://t.co/KGJlhS8t6d pic.twitter.com/EThWLDNmpB— Fur Free Alliance (@FurFreeAlliance) February 13, 2020
The Fur Free Alliance also shared statistics and information on their online site to educate consumers on this worrying situation; it highlighted that “the production of fur imposes significant adverse impacts on both the environment and human health.” In addition, it explained that, "the local impact of fur farms leads to the degradation of land, rural life, property values and economic activities. Plus, waste runoff seeps into soil and waterways, causing severe damage to local ecosystems."
By going fur-free, these major fashion brands are acknowledging publicly that their industry should no longer turn a blind eye towards the detrimental effects that fur has on the environment and in the ethical treatment of animals. They're leading the change of businesses towards becoming more responsible and ethical in their practices.
Since then, luxury fashion brands have been pressured to step up by removing the use of fur in their products. One of the earliest adopters was American designer Calvin Klein in 1994, followed by Ralph Lauren, Giorgio Armani and Tommy Hilfiger. Read on as we round-up the key luxury fashion brands that have gone fur-free.
In 2018, Burberry vowed to remove all animal fur from its collections, beginning with designer Riccardo Tisci’s debut collection for the British brand. According to Burberry’s CEO Marco Gobbetti, "Modern luxury means being socially and environmentally responsible.” This change was reportedly a result of the brand receiving backlash for destroying millions of dollars’ worth of unsold products in 2017.
The renowned French fashion house announced in December 2018 that it would no longer be producing garment and accessories made from animal fur or from exotic skins such as crocodile, lizard and snake. A spokeswoman for Chanel had also revealed to CNN that the brand’s decision to do so was partly due to the increasing difficulty that they have faced in sourcing exotic skins that meet their standards.
Gucci declared back in 2017 that they will no longer use, promote or publicise animal fur with effect from their Spring 2018 collection and have joined the FFA in pledging their commitment to this movement. Its parent company, Kering, has also been investing in sustainable and synthetic leathers.
Now, if you’re wondering whether the brand had to discontinue the production of their hugely popular Princetown leather slippers (yes, the backless loafers which are trimmed with fur), the answer is that they’re still selling them today, yet are still committed to their fur-free promise.
But here’s the catch — according to online media site footwearnews, the Fur Free Alliance defines animal fur as “any animal skin, or part thereof, with hair or fur fibres attached thereto, either in its raw or processed state or the pelt of any animal killed for the animal’s fur.” This means that brands such as Gucci are complying with the alliance’s guidelines as long as they source their furs from animals such as lamb, goat and alpaca instead of minks, foxes and rabbits. They have since replaced the use of kangaroo fur in their slippers, to lamb fur instead.
In a press statement released in May 2019, Prada Group — which owns Italian brands Prada, Miu Miu, Car Shoe, and English footwear brand Church’s — shared that it will not use animal fur in any designs or products, starting from their Spring/Summer 2020 women’s collections. The Group, though, was also transparent in stating that leather and other products which are by-products of the meat trade, such as sheepskin and calfskin, will still be sold.
Apart from the luxury brands mentioned above, it’s also worth noting that other brands such as Coach, DKNY, Michael Kors and DVF (Diane Von Furstenberg) have also joined the fur-free club. Meanwhile, the Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy (LVMH) Group, which houses Dior, Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs, Givenchy and Fenty (by Rihanna) has yet to ban animal fur in its products.
It’s safe to assume that this change has put greater pressure on fellow major design brands to pledge their allegiance towards stopping animal cruelty, however, it has also sparked another wave of debate surrounding the materials used in faux fur and the issue of environmental sustainability.
What are your thoughts? Are you for fur or faux fur?
(Cover image from: @burberry)
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