There is a deep division in the fashion industry on whether to participate in the global fur trade. Burberry will; Tommy Hilfiger won’t. American Vogue will, British Vogue won’t and so it goes on.
The 40-Billion-dollar fur industry’s relationship with fashion is widely contested and has been for decades with supermodels including Naomi Campbell and Cindy Crawford claiming they’d rather go Naked than wear fur. Brands including Gucci, Michael Kors and Maison Margiela have recently announced that that they will be going fur free, severing all previous ties with the global fur trade. After all this time, why the sudden change of heart?
For Gucci fur has lost its modern edge, “it’s a little bit out-dated” says Marco Bizzarri, chief executive officer of the Italian Brand, insisting that it was not about “the millennials or the new generation”. Millennials are thought be more ethically focused than previous generations, identifying sustainability as a key aspect of their purchasing patterns. Millennials account for more than half of Gucci’s customers so it makes sense that the brand decided to go fur free (it’s obvious). Fur accounts for $11.8 million of Gucci’s profits annually and will be replaced by faux-fur, wool and new fabric innovations (despite the popularity of their fur lined loafers).
Michael Kors is another brand that has recently gone fur-free. The years of parading models down the ramp in luxurious floor-length fur coats has come to an end as a result of increased pressure by animal rights groups and changing consumer tastes. The brand is attempting to evolve its use of innovative materials as “due to technological advances in fabrications, we now have the ability to create a luxe aesthetic using non-animal fur” says Michael Kors.
It doesn’t stop there -- John Galliano’s Maison Margiela announced that it would go fur free this month following in the wake of Gucci and Michael Kors. Galliano’s decision to go fur-free came after his interaction with PETA’s senior vice president Dan Matthews while on a beach in Saint-Tropez. According to Galliano the real luxury today “is authenticity and inventiveness” further explaining that “you can be outrageous and fun without fur”.
Gucci, Michael Kors and Maison Margiela are not the first and are joining already fur-free brands; Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren and Armani. Retailers including Selfridges and Net a Porter also do not sell fur. Will more luxury brands commit to going fur-free in 2018? We will have to wait and see.