Gucci has banned fur from all future collections, commencing from Spring/Summer 18; its CEO, Marco Bizzarri, declared that was ‘outdated’. It also joined the Fur Free Alliance, that promotes both the fur ban and animal welfare rights. The ethical path of fashion has meandered once more. However, in a millennial society that is so susceptible to influence, there is still an important question to be raised; will fashion ever be truly ethical?
The UK banned domestic fur farming in 2000 due to the extreme maltreatment of animals and unethical methods of killing. For almost two decades, the use of fur has been the sartorial elephant in the room in the fashion industry. Once an unquestionable luxury, its reputation has been tarnished ever since supermodels Christy Turlington and Naomi Campbell went nude under the slogan ‘I would rather go naked than wear fur’ for a 90s PETA campaign.
Each year, 1 billion rabbits and 50 million other animals are killed for their fur by means of excruciating methods, such as anal electrocution and having their throats slit. On fur farms, they are kept in tiny cages for the entirety of their lives; although it is easy turn a blind eye to the sources of fur, it is increasingly acknowledged that these treatments are no longer acceptable or necessary. Gucci serves as a prime example of this; whilst its sales growth increased 49% this quarter and still reigning as the current ‘It’ brand, both Bizzarri and the Creative Director, Alessandro Michele, are willing to discontinue its iconic fur-lined loafers in lieu of a moral standpoint. As the fashion house follows in the footsteps of designers such as Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren, Stella McCartney (whose brand is known for its ‘vegetarian leather’), The Kooples and Armani, it is clear that fashion is starting to steer away from the farms and towards awareness and high ethical standards, slowly but surely.
These steps have been taken with the backdrop of the increasingly real faux-fur industry. There is an expansive range of options to replace natural fur. Shrimps designer, Hannah Weiland, states ‘Faux fur is now as soft and luxurious as real fur, and can also be more versatile when it comes to design’. It would seem that fashion wholly welcomes alternative options; so why be real, when you can fake it?
Faux fur can be equally denounced as unethical due to the inherent damaging environmental effects. According to a 2011 paper for the Environmental Science & Technology journal, with every machine wash, each garment releases an average of 1,900 tiny particles of plastic, and it is produced from non-renewable petroleum-based products, such as nylon, acrylic and polyester and treated with chemicals. While it may not cause the death of animals, it slowly contributes to the destruction of our natural planet. In this case, the fashion industry must choose the superior ethical battle.
The true issue in the fur debate resides in the power of influence. As I was perusing through the rows of a certain popular high-street brand womenswear retailer (it may have rhymed with Mopshop), it was hard to avoid the hoards of fur-trimmed parka jackets, faux-fur bombers and the rainbow spectrum of Fendi-fur- keyrings available. High street fashion is influenced by luxury fashion and therefore fur has become normalised without a regard to its origins. Us millenials are far more conscious of various sources such as food and carbon emissions. However, the influence of individualism and celebrity style has proved that the fur industry still reigns. While fashion may be progressing towards a modern, ethical future, for now, it is still abundantly fluffy.