By Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi
Good news! PETA just announced that Versace is joining the ever-growing list of luxury brands that are recognising that being associated with the fur industry makes them look totally cruel – not to mention, out of touch. I mean, who wants to support a brand that uses textiles ripped off from animals’ backs after they’ve spent their short, miserable lives inside wire cages, before being electrocuted, bludgeoned, or strangled – for fashion?
Fortunately, it seems the end of fur farming is well within our reach. Times are changing quickly, and thanks to technological advances that have resulted in an abundance of new eco-fabrics on the market – from pineapple leather to feather down alternatives – the future of fashion is definitely vegan.
Not sure about that? Well, consider this: vegan fashion seems to be the most sustainable form of fashion – even when it uses polyester and PU fabrics. And an increasing number of huge, mainstream designers like those below are going fur free. Now if only they’d consider ditching the leather….
1. Calvin Klein
Way back in 1994, Calvin Klein was one of the first big fashion labels to declare he would never use fur again, and he’s kept his word ever since. When he took the decision, the words of the American fashion designer were: “my own reflections on the humane treatment of animals and the fur segment of our business simply did not fit with our corporate philosophy any longer.” Today, at 75 years old, Mr. Klein is a successful designer with a clean conscience who pursues animal welfare by seeking cruelty-free alternatives to fur.
The news went global when Italian designer Giorgio Armani announced he’d stop using fur. Armani explained how technological progress allows designers today “to have valid alternatives that render the use of cruel practices unnecessary as regards animals.” The Armani group, which includes several labels such as Giorgio Armani, Emporio Armani, AJ Armani Jeans and homeware brand Armani Casa, was praised for this decision by The Humane Society International, who called Armani’s pledge “probably the most powerful message.”
Stella was raised by vegetarian parents, so no wonder she decided early on that all her collections would be fur free. “Fur is the most unnecessary thing in the world,” she declared.“Those animals are not eaten, if they try to pretend that the fur industry products are by-products they are not. Those animals are bred to be turned into coats.” The brand even established a ‘Fur-Free-Fur’ label on the outside of its faux fur garments to underline its conscious choice and to let others know that though they may look soft and fluffy, Stella’s furs are totes faux.
4. Michael Kors
US fashion house Michael Kors is one of the latest to have announced that it will no longer use fur in its collections, as of December 2017. Kors’s no fur policy will become effective in 2018, and will also include Jimmy Choo (which Kors acquired in July for $1.2 billion). Coyote and rabbit were once very popular in Michael Kors’ designs, but they will finally be removed in favour of faux fur, as the eponymous designer explained: “Due to technological advances in fabrications, we now have the ability to create a luxe aesthetic using non-animal fur.”
5. Ralph Lauren
Even though Ralph Lauren has never been a major user of fur, some of his pieces did include fur details. But in 2006, The Polo Ralph Lauren Corporation announced that the brand would remove fur from all of its merchandise and home collections. “Fur has never been an integral part of our design strategy as we had only used it on a limited basis as an accent in some collections,” said a Polo Ralph Lauren spokesperson and added “We are publicly announcing this decision because the use of fur has been under review internally and we feel that the time is right to take this action.” The Company also sent PETA a signed statement acknowledging its intent to no longer include fur in its future collections, and Dan Matthews, vice-president of Peta, called Ralph Lauren’s decision “one of the biggest victories in the anti-fur campaign”.
Around the same year when Ralph Lauren was ditching fur, Tommy Hilfiger also decided to permanently drop it from his collections. PETA’s VP, Dan Matthews, was very excited by the news, mainly because he had a direct hand in the decision – apparently Mr. Matthews and Mr. Hilfiger met at Pamela Anderson’s wedding in San Tropez in July 2007, and they began a conversation about the ethical issues surrounding the fur industry. After that, it seems Mr Hilfiger’s mind was changed. Animal activist Pamela Anderson was delighted when she heard the news, of course!
7. Kate Spade
Kate Spade has always been a fur free advocate – and she’s even making more of her bags from straw, cork and other more sustainable materials. Kate seems to love animals, as she often uses leopard, zebra, tiger and snakeskin prints on fabric – as well as embellishments such as the embroidered camels, below. In short, her designs aim to tribute the animal kingdom, without harming it.
8. Hugo Boss
After a year of serious negotiations with The Humane Society and The Fur Free Alliance, Hugo Boss agreed to stop using fur as of autumn 2016. A spokesman of the German luxury fashion house said, “For many years Hugo Boss has continuously decreased the use of fur and subsequently, only a very small share was left in the last collections. The last rabbit fur used was for select pieces only (trims on hoods and on sleeves for example), which we have now completely dropped.” The brand’s creative director of sportswear, Bernd Keller, explained how the label decided to adopt a different route: “We are giving our sustainable corporate strategy — in this case, animal protection — precedence over the ‘fast’ and ‘simple’ route to success. We are delighted to embrace innovative challenges in relation to the planning and design of a collection.”
Donatella has recently declared that the iconic Italian label she took over after her brother Gianni was murdered will cease using fur altogether.
“Fur? I am out of that. I don’t want to kill animals to make fashion. It doesn’t feel right,” the Italian designer told Luke Leitch in an interview for The Economist’s 1843 magazine.
They may still be using loads of leather to create their popular bags, but accessory brand Furla has announced that finally, beginning with their cruise 2019 collection that will be in stores in November, they are going fur-free. Instead, all new collections that are on the fuzzier side will be made using faux fur.
Besides avoiding fur, Lacoste temporarily dropped its iconic crocodile logo in a bid to draw attention to the plight of endangered species. In partnership with the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the French brand released ten different shirts embroidered with animals that are currently at risk of extinction, such as the Kakapo parrot and the Sumatran tiger. The limited edition Lacoste x Save Our Species polo shirts were launched during the brand’s runway show at Paris Fashion Week on 1 March 2018 and sold out immediately.
At the Kering Talk at the London College of Fashion in 2017, it was announced that Gucci would be removing fur from all of its upcoming collections, and that the brand was hoping other luxury brands would follow suit. “Technology is now available that means you don’t need to use fur. The alternatives are luxurious. There is just no need,” a spokesman for the company said.
13. The Kooples
The French high street brand has stopped using not only fur, but also angora in its collections.
After meeting with a PETA France representative and receiving tens of thousands of e-mails, phone calls, and social media messages from people against fur, the chic clothing company gave in to the pressure and announced that it will not be using real fur in any future collections.
14. Tom Ford
After watching the film ‘What the Health’, Tom Ford made a big decision: he decided to go vegan! His decision to follow a plant-based diet has consequently influenced his creative choices as founder of his eponymous fashion brand.
“I’ve been vegan for about the last year,” he told Women’s Wear Daily. “When you look at how most of our meat, our animal products, are raised, from a health standpoint, I didn’t feel that I should eat those things anymore.”
Dame Vivienne Westwood is a longtime vegetarian who renounced using fur in designs after learning from PETA about the cruelties of the fur industry. The renowned British designer decided to ban fur from her lines already in 2007. The last of Westwood’s furry items were eight rabbit-fur handbags, which the company allowed PETA Europe to donate to a wildlife sanctuary.
All images courtesy the brands. Main image: PETA
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