The brand joins 40 organizations making up the Fur Free Alliance, which promotes alternatives to the use of fur in the fashion industry
High fashion is known for having a high price tag. Luxury goods are still perceived as a mark of wealth – the crème de la crème of the clothing and accessories industry. They are marketed to make little girls dream of one day owning diamonds and Manolo Blahniks, and for mothers to yearn for that Chanel bag. But herein lies the problem. With so much status quo, is the high fashion industry using their impact on the world wisely?It’s a question that has come to the forefront, with more and more emphasis placed on protecting the planet. People want electric cars, cruelty-free makeup, and clothing that’s not made of harmful chemicals or rare animal skins. The latter seems to be one long mulled over by animal rights activists, but only recently did it seem anyone was truly listening to the pleas to prevent fur from serving as a fashion statement.
On October 11, in London, Gucci President and CEO Marco Bizzari unveiled the decision for the company to join the Fur Free Alliance — eliminating animal furs from its Spring Summer 2018 collections onwards. The move was pushed forward by parent company Kering, which has invested in humanitarian initiatives, along with more sustainable alternatives to leather.
“As a commitment and thanks to a long term partnership with LAV and The Humane Society, Gucci joins the Fur Free Alliance (FFA) which focuses on the deprivation and cruelty suffered by fur bearing animals both in wild trapping and industrial fur farming,” the official press release for the announcement said. “Gucci will be organizing a charity auction of remaining animal fur items with proceeds to benefit LAV and the Humane Society.”Gucci joins a growing list of high fashion and influential fashion companies saying no to fur, including Madewell, Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Yoox Net-a-Porter, Giorgio Armani, and Stella McCartney.
Gucci has been riding a high thanks to designer Alessandro Michele, who has reenergized the brand with prints, embellishments, and patterns in British flair. The brand’s decision to discontinue the use of real fur is likely in part due to pressure of animal rights groups like PETA. Meanwhile, it is also simply not on-trend anymore, with ethically-minded millennials redefining what makes fashion luxurious.
“Do you think using furs today is still modern? 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,” Bizzarri told Business of Fashion prior to the London announcement. “Creativity can jump in many different directions instead of using furs.”
As for why other brands have chosen to say no to fur, Giorgio Armani said in a statement that technological advancements offer viable alternatives to real fur. Animal-rights activist Stella McCartney introduced the Fur Free Fur label, featuring long-haired coats that are entirely modacrylic — a form of synthetic fiber that makes for an incredibly close match to the appearance and texture of real fur.For the wealthy and powerful who find exclusivity in fur, it should be noted that the quality of faux fur has improved dramatically over the last few years, and so it is no longer considered a cheap alternative to the real deal. In fact, wearing faux fur isn’t second best but a fashion statement (for those that can’t connect with the cruelty of killing animals for fashion’s sake).
Yet skeptics aren’t celebrating the move from Gucci, or fashion brands prior. Can fashion ever be ethical? It’s a question posed in an article for the Independent. “A ban by Gucci will make no difference whatsoever to the number of animals farmed for their coats. As for ‘saving the environment,’ the air miles and traveling involved in photographing ad campaigns for luxury brands, the copious packaging which cocoons their products, the glass and steel and non-environmentally friendly materials used to construct their retail outlets…”
While such a point is surely valid, animals rights activists would likely disagree that the move by Gucci and other brands is not worthy of celebration. In a statement, Humane Society said the Gucci move was a “huge game-changer” for the world of fashion, while PETA welcomed the news on Twitter, saying, “After years of protests, @Gucci has banned fur! Huge thank you to all who fought with us over the years.”
Joh Vinding, Fur Free Alliance chairman, said, “Gucci’s new fur-free policy marks a game-changer for the whole luxury fashion industry to follow. Gucci is taking a bold stand for animals, showing the world that the future of fashion is fur-free.”
Meanwhile, luxury brands like like Louis Vuitton, Dior, and Karl Lagerfeld continue to produce fur clothing for wealthy women. In January 2017, PETA increased its efforts to make a major dent in the demise of real fur being used in fashion. The animals rights organization bought a stake in French luxury goods retailer Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy (LVMH) in an effort to stop makers of high end leather goods and clothes from using exotic animal skins in production. PETA’s stake allows the company to attend shareholder meetings and question the board.
“Every Peta exposé of the exotic-skins industry has found sensitive living beings crammed into filthy pits, hacked apart, and left to die,” said Ingrid Newkirk, the president of PETA, in a statement. “From demonstrating on the street to speaking up in the boardroom, PETA will push LVMH to stop selling any bag, watchband, or shoe made from a reptile’s skin.”
Will such luxury brands bow to pressure from both activists and millennials alike? Watch this space.