Is this the beginning of the end for fur?
With more and more fashion houses going fur-free, San Francisco banning
sales in the city and British MPs considering outlawing all imports of pelts
after Brexit, the signs do not seem good for the industry.
After decades of hard-hitting campaigning against fur, animal rights
activists believe they scent victory.
Last week Donna Karan and DKNY became the latest in a flood of luxury
brands to say they were planning to go fur free, following similar
announcements by Gucci, Versace, Furla, Michael Kors, Armani and Hugo Boss
US-based animal rights group PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of
Animals), which is famous for its spectacular anti-fur protests, declared
“2018 is the year that everyone is saying goodbye to fur.
“Times are changing and the end of fur farming is within reach!” it told
its 687,000 Instagram followers.
The British-based Humane Society International said the tide turned when
Gucci declared it was going fur-free in October. Another hammer blow came
month when Donatella Versace said that “I don’t want to kill animals to make
fashion. It doesn’t feel right.”
“Such influential brands turning their backs on cruel fur makes the few
designers like Fendi and Burberry who are still peddling fur look
out of touch and isolated,” said the society’s president Kitty Block.
Fendi’s Karl Lagerfeld shows little sign of second thoughts, however, and
has said he will use real fur as long as “people eat meat and wear leather”.
But PETA, which also campaigns for veganism, has warned the leather
industry that is also in its sights, saying “You are next…”
And Professor Nathalie Ruelle, of the French Fashion Institute, told AFP
that it was telling that the new fur-free brands “did not say anything about
exotic leathers (such as crocodile, lizard and snakeskin).”
Of the big designers, Stella McCartney, a vegetarian and animal rights
activist herself, has pushed the ethical envelope the furthest, refusing to
use fur, leather or feathers.
But vegans want to go further still, with a ban on all animal products,
which for some also means wool.
But the fur industry is not taking this lying down and has become much
vocal in its bid to counter animal rights groups’ social media campaigns.
The International Fur Federation (IFF) took Gucci to task when it went
fur-free, asking if it “really wanted to choke the world with fake plastic
Philippe Beaulieu, of the French fur federation claimed fur-free was a
marketing gimmick “trying to surf on emotion” to please millennials.
Fake fur, he said, was the real danger to the environment. “Brands who
fur push synthetic fur which comes from plastic, a byproduct of the petrol
industry, with all the pollution and harm to the planet that that entails.”
In contrast, fur is natural and more and more durable and traceable, he
Arnaud Brunois, of the Faux Fur Institute, which he set up to counter the
IFF, disputes this.
He insisted that “from an ecological point of view it was better to use a
waste product from oil… than farm 150 million of animals then skin them
finally treat the pelts with chemicals.”
“It is part of the real fur industry’s marketing campaign to denigrate
fur,” he added.
These days imitation can sometimes pass for the real thing as the British
designer Clare Waight Keller proved in her fake fur-heavy Givenchy show at
Paris fashion week earlier this month.
Luxury brand expert Serge Carreira at Sciences Po university in Paris
“fur was marginal for most of the fashion houses who have stopped using
For instance, it only accounted for 10 million euros (12.3 million
Gucci’s six-billion turnover in 2017, or 0.16 percent.
While fur coats are now rarer on the streets of cities in the West, coats
with fur collars — either fake or real, and sometimes a mixture of both,
activists claim — are everywhere.
In China, however, the picture is very different.
Fur sales grew “phenomenally” there over the last decade, said IFF CEO
Oaten, and despite levelling off still dwarfs all those elsewhere combined.
The world’s biggest fur consumer is now also far by its it largest
in an industry worth 30 billion dollars globally in 2017.
Photo 1: courtesy of Humane Society International UK by Jo McArthur
Photo 2: Pexels