By Julia Wong
What do Giorgio Armani, Hugo Boss, and Michael Kors have in common? All three of these luxury brands have recently committed to going fur free. The designers will no longer be using any fur in any of their products. But these are just the newest names to join the long list of brands, including Gucci, Stella McCartney, Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren, that have made the vow.
It may seem strange that this is all happening now considering anti fur organizations have been around for decades; PETA started taking a stand against fur clothing in 1980 and have not backed down since. Protesters have gone naked, splattered blood and a dead raccoon was even thrown on Anna Wintour’s plate in 1996. It looked like they had lost the battle in 2015, though, when, according to The New York Times, 73% of the year’s 436 shows featured fur. Fendi took it to extremes by doing the first ever fur only show. But less than three years later and some of these companies that featured fur in 2015 have done a full 180 and promised to never use the product again.
What made them change their minds so quickly? The most obvious answer is the consumer. Consumers are pushing for better ethical practices throughout the entire fashion industry. They are rejecting products made in factories with awful work conditions, saying no to fast fashion, and searching for clothes made with sustainably sourced goods. People are expecting higher social responsibility from their favorite brands. This increased morality is even being seen in celebrities. Just recently Kate Middleton stepped out in Sweden in a coat with faux fur accents. Charlize Theron, Pamela Anderson, Olivia Munn and Brad Pitt are others who have voiced their support for animal rights. People are saying no, and companies are listening.
So what does a fur free fashion industry look like? To sum it up in one word: synthetic. Faux fur production is likely to increase, because while people may be rejecting real animal furs, the fur trend will still be around for a long time. To the delight of many fashion lovers, faux furs are jaw droppingly less expensive than real furs. They tend to be less soft, but most people will be willing to compromise knowing the positive impact they are having on animal rights. Faux furs also vary in look and feel, so it is likely that a ton of new unique styles will be introduced. Stella McCartney has started working with a notoriously high quality and convincingly real version of the fur. But there are definitely some trade offs with the fabric. It’s not biodegradable, so thrown out faux pieces will end up sitting in landfills. PETA continues to endorse faux furs though, possibly because they know the fur trend isn’t headed towards the trash anytime soon.
As more and more high end brands join the list of anti fur companies, and more and more celebrities take a stand, it seems the tides in fashion could really change, and real fur’s long lived days in the spotlight could come to an end. Perhaps one day flaunting a faux fur label will be even trendier than having a real fur was 20 years ago.