Until recently wearing fur has been a sign of wealth luxury, class and high fashion. However, a collective shift away from cruelty-free, sustainable fashion choices has seen many major fashion houses snub fur, turning instead to sustainable, eco-friendly fur-free fashion alternatives.
Over a decade ago, the world’s top supermodels posed naked for a series of anti-fur adverts that became some of the most iconic images of the 90s. Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington, Cindy Crawford and Elle McPherson were all photographed naked under the slogan “We’d rather go naked than wear fur.” Wearing fur for a while was the mark of a social pariah, but it slowly crept back into vogue around the world. However, the tide has turned again and fur-free fashion is back, seemingly for good.
Designers who once sent models down the runways wrapped in furry pelts are now veering away from the practice altogether. These days, how your clothing is made is just as important as how it looks.
Here are all of the major fashion houses who have embraced fur-free fashion:
Burberry has announced that the brand will go fur-free under chief creative officer Riccardo Tisci following his debut collection at London Fashion Week. “Modern luxury means being socially and environmentally responsible,” Marco Gobbetti, Burberry’s chief executive officer, said of the in-house mission to go greener. “This belief is core to us at Burberry and key to our long-term success. We are committed to applying the same creativity to all parts of Burberry as we do to our products.”
Nineties Calvin Klein is known for its cool kid aesthetic, teenage Kate Moss and denim on denim. The decade also presented something relatively new to the high fashion industry; banning fur. In 1994 Calvin Klein announced that he would no longer use fur in any of his future collections. The designer explained his decision was a personal choice, “my own reflections on the humane treatment of animals” and “the fact that the fur segment of our business simply did not fit with our corporate philosophy any longer.” Fifteen years later, this sentiment still rings true, even with the frequent change of creative directors.
The French fashion house announced that it is banning all exotic animal skins and fur from its collections just hours ahead of the 2018 Chanel Métiers d’Art show. The materials it will stop using include crocodile, lizard, fish and snakeskin. Chanel will also ensure that all of its leathers are sourced from the farming sector, and come from animals reared for meat. The changes will take place from May 2019.
In 2018 Coach announced they have adopted a 100 percent fur-free policy, working closely with the Humane Society of the United States to educate its lead executives for a cruelty-free future. The Humane Society’s CEO and president, Kitty Block took to her personal blog to express her joy over the initiative, writing, “The announcement today from a brand as iconic as Coach is the latest indication that fur is just not fashionable. The fur trade kills more than 100 million animals each year, with animals used for fur either trapped in the wild, where they remain in cruel leghold traps for days without food or water, or raised in cramped cages for their entire lives and then killed by electrocution or gassing. Consumers worldwide are saying no to all of that and fashion leaders are following.”
Donna Karan re-committed to promoting a cruelty-free brand in March 2018 and the policy will go into effect by 2019. The brand had previously made a fur-free pledge in 2008 after a personal appeal from PETA pal Tim Gunn, but she reneged on it, kicking off a decade of runway disruptions, graphic ads, and protests.
Diane Von Furstenberg was one of the latest fashion houses to go 100 percent fur-free. The brand announced in early October 2018 that it has partnered with PETA to cease production of fur, exotic skins, mohair, and angora in all of its upcoming collections. I am so excited that technology has provided us a way to feel as glamorous with faux fur,” DVF chairwoman Diane von Furstenberg said in a press release, adding that the decision to go fur-free is part of a larger-scale project to create a more sustainable fashion industry.”
Georgio Armani announced in 2016 that they would be ending their fur collections starting with Milan AW 2016. In a statement released by the brand they expressed how the practice was outdated and cruel. Surprisingly, the fur-free ban does not cross over to sister company, Emporio Armani, which still uses fur in current collections.
The powerhouse brand announced in 2017 that they will no longer be using fur in their upcoming collections. CEO of Gucci, Marco Bizzarri, claimed that fur was no longer “modern” and it was time for the brand to cut it out completely, “Gucci is so visible, so well-known, we need to use that in a positive way.” Gucci’s departure from the fur industry came as a surprise, following the success of their fur loafers that had become an instant craze. The brand also adorned models in oversized fur coats for Gucci Resort 2018 before making the announcement.
A year after having a talk with The Humane Society of the United States, Hugo Boss vowed to stop using fur by its fall 2016 collection. A Hugo Boss spokesman 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.”
Michael Kors’ fur-free pledge applies to Jimmy Choo as well, which was acquired by Michael Kors in a $1.2 billion deal in July 2017.
Maison Margiela was the first Parisian Couture house to go fur-free. John Galliano, creative director of Maison Margiela, explains the change came after a chance encounter with PETA’s senior vice president, Dan Mathews, while swimming in the Saint Tropez sea which lead to his change of heart. “Today we don’t want a product, we want ethics, a firm that defends the values that we admire,” the designer said on his new stance to fur.
The American designer announced that fur would no longer be part of his collection as of AW 2018, “Due to technological advances in fabrications, we now have the ability to create a luxe aesthetic using non-animal fur…” The AW 2018 collection showcased the designer’s new techniques for creating a fur-like aesthetic with faux materials similar to that of Stella McCartney.
Ralph Lauren ditched the fur over ten years after Calvin Klein made the announcement, yet was still ahead of the curve compared with the industry as a whole. In a statement released from the company they explained the split, “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. 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 shining beacon of ethical and sustainable fashion, Stella McCartney, started her namesake line 17 years ago with the mission to not sacrifice sustainability for style. The designer won the 2018 VOICES Award for “outstanding achievement in fashion and exemplary impact on the wider world”.
“There is so much we can do together, there are so many different elements that affect the industry that we don’t think about,” said McCartney.
Stella McCartney has created fur-free alternatives to enable their pieces to reflect the luxurious effect of fur. The brand’s pioneering stance on cruelty-free fashion is quickly becoming the new normal.
American fashion house, Tommy Hilfiger, discontinued fur from his collections in 2007. In a statement released by the brand, Hilfiger himself said, “Starting immediately, the company will cease development of any product containing fur, and any fur garment already in production will be phased out of sales channels by the delivery of the spring 2008 collection.”
In recent years Vivienne Westwood has been a show to watch, as she leads the way of protest themed runway shows including tackling social issues, racial inclusivity, ethical fashion and over-production. When you think about Vivienne Westwood you would never imagine that the brand once used fur in their collections and further more only made the ban in 2007. The change happened after a meeting between Westwood and a PETA member which resulted in a sudden ban of fur. Following the years after, Westwood has become a complete advocate for all things environmental and sustainable as she continues to infiltrate fashion and social issue, “I want to reduce my product range, to concentrate on quality rather than quantity.”
Donatella Versace announced they will no longer be using fur. “Fur? I am out of that. I don’t want to kill animals to make fashion. It doesn’t feel right,” the Italian designer said on her recent decision. The brand has a long history of using fur as a staple material and after the announcement was still selling their fur-embellished coats.