We live in an age in which we have become much more conscious about what we consume and how our consumption affects the environment. Initiatives such as electric cars, celebrities punting vegan diets and airlines promoting sustainable travel have put the spotlight on unsustainable practices, so it was only a matter of time before the fashion world had to fall in line.
And it has, with the spring/summer 2019 season setting the tone for a sustainable future.
London Fashion Week, starting today, will be the first major fashion show to be totally fur free. Organisers the British Fashion Council conducted a survey among all showcasing designers, asking if any planned to use fur. When it was confirmed that none planned to, the council promoted the show as fur free for the first time in its 35-year history.
Many notable designers have long taken a stance against using animal fur in fashion. Ralph Lauren and Vivienne Westwood have banned fur from their collections for more than a decade. Calvin Klein stopped using fur back in 1994 and Stella McCartney has never used fur, leather or feathers in her designs, thus carving out an ethical fashion brand that describes itself as a “vegetarian brand”.
John Galliano, DKNY and Versace have all announced that they will be going fur free for the first time with their 2019 collections. They are following in the footsteps of Michael Kors, who announced in December that both the Michael Kors and Jimmy Choo labels would be phasing out fur this year.
And if there is one label that should be looking forward to a new era in 2019, it’s Burberry. The British fashion house will not only be showcasing its first fur-free collection at London Fashion Week but it will also be the first collection by their new head designer, Riccardo Tisci. In a statement last week, Burberry CEO Marco Gobetti declared that “modern luxury means being socially and environmentally responsible”.
He was not only referring to the company’s fur-free stance, but also to the controversy over the company destroying its surplus stock. Burberry was slated earlier in the year for burning £28.6m of stock in an attempt to preserve the value of the brand. Despite other luxury fashion brands engaging in the same practice, Burberry was hit by a backlash from politicians, activists and the media.
Although the company had adopted a 2022 responsibility agenda in 2017, the controversy meant that it had to accelerate its implementation of the plan. Burberry’s responsibility agenda demonstrates a new trend in the fashion world, in which not only the final product but the production process is scrutinised.
While London Fashion Week leads the anti-fur movement this year, from July next year Helsinki Fashion Week will ban the use of leather by designers, with founder Evelyn Mora announcing “an active stand against cruelty to animals and the damaging environmental impacts that the use of animal leather brings with it”.
It seems 2019 will be the year when sustainable fashion practices will no longer be relegated to the fringes of the fashion world, but will become part of the mainstream.
Even though the anti-fur movement has been fighting for decades, London Fashion Week going 100% fur-free for the first time is definitely making a statement in a world that for a long time was allowed to turn a blind eye to the environmental damage it was doing.