A scene from the movie Sex and the City (2008) sees Samantha Jones attacked by an animal activist who flings scarlet liquid onto Jones’ ivory fur coat and yelling “fur is murder!” Such a scene isn’t just fiction, as enthusiastic animal rights campaigners take radical actions to pursue the cause. Designer Tom Ford himself had a PETA member flung tomato juice at him at a WWD event, forcing him to rethink the use of fur for his namesake brand. Today, his label has joined the ranks of numerous fashion houses that have pledged to go cruelty-free.
But not everyone is for this movement. The fashion industry remains divided on the long-term sustainability of going fur-free. Some argue that real fur is far more sustainable as it’s biodegradable. Faux fur is also said to be equally problematic, as it’s often made of recycled plastic, and its production uses petrochemical poisons which pollute the air and the environment. It’s also made of synthetic fibres, that often leach into water supplies. Fortunately, many brands are putting in real work into minimising their environmental footprint, by working with scientists to create compostable faux fur textiles, and engineering biofabricated collagen to make leather, sans the toxic emissions and water pollution.
Whatever your stance, you can’t deny that this marks positive change for the environment as shoppers become increasingly conscious about their wardrobe choices. Ahead, we list some of the major fashion houses that have gone fur-free in the past year.
Just recently, Prada announced its move to go entirely fur-free, starting with its Spring/Summer 2020 women’s collection. The decision was borne out of a collaboration with the Fur-Free Alliance, a coalition of more than 50 animal protection organisations from over 40 countries. “Focusing on innovative materials will allow the company to explore new boundaries of creative design while meeting the demand for ethical products,” said lead creative director Miuccia Prada.
Gucci joined the Fur-Free Alliance in Spring 2018. CEO Marco Bizzari told Vogue that technological advancements has been fur unnecessary, especially with the many luxurious alternatives available. “I don’t think it’s still modern and that’s the reason why we decided not to do that. It’s a little bit out-dated,” Bizzari said in a speech to Business of Fashion.
The new age of Burberry wasn’t just heralded with creative director Riccardo Tisci. His debut collection last September marked the end of using fur for the house. Chief executive officer of the British heritage label Marco Gobbetti equated modern luxury with being socially and environmentally responsible.
The news came just two months after it was revealed that the British heritage label was burning unsold merchandise — a common practice once used by brands to stop goods from being sold at a cheaper price. The house has since stopped the practice.
In December last year, Chanel announced that it would stop using fur and exotic skins, including crocodile, lizard, snake, and stingray, in all its merchandise. The move is based on a practical decision — in a statement, the maison describes how it became difficult to source for ones that met their ethical standards. Instead, it is now focused on developing materials and leathers similar to exotic skins.
For a label that symbolises excessive, over-the-top glamour, it’s little wonder how Versace sent shockwaves through the fashion industry when it announced that it would phase out fur by 2019. “Fur? I am out of that… I don’t want to kill animals to have to make fashion” said Donatella Versace to British cultural magazine The Economist’s 1843. The house has a lengthy history with fur, having used racoon dog and mink, in its designs over the years.
There are three reasons why designer John Galliano decide to lead Maison Margiela into a new fur-free age: A chance meeting with PETA’s senior vice president Dan Mathews in St Tropez, his dog Gipsy, and his switch to vegetarianism. Echoing the statements of other luxury brands, Galliano said that modern luxury is no longer about fur; instead, it’s about ethics and defending admirable values.
Diane Von Furstenberg’s namesake brand has too announced that it’ll be going fur-free. The designer herself said in a statement: “I’m so excited that technology has provided us a way to feel as glamorous with faux fur.” Over the years, the label has gradually reduced its use of fur, skin, and angora. As the chairwoman of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, Fursternberg has announced her commitment to finding creative substitutes as fur alternatives.
Victoria Beckham’s eponymous label has always been fur-free, but the designer announced the ban of exotic skins, including alligator and lizard, in all of its collection from Fall/Winter 2019. The announcement came two months after Chanel revealed its fur-free policy. In a statement, a brand spokesperson said: “As a business, we have been looking to action the use of more ethically sourced products that have less environmental impact for some time.”