As members of major economies become increasingly socially aware, the use of fur in fashion is steadily on the decrease as reported by the independent publication, Quartz. The diminishing use of fur is indicative of consumers who are overall more invested in the quality of their clothing with regard to whether the production was ethical or not.
The abandonment of fur began at high-end brands, the fashion houses that traditionally marketed fur goods as luxury products to wealthy patrons. Last year, students at the London College of Fashion asked Gucci CEO Marco Bizzarri whether the use of fur is modern to which he responded, “I don’t think so. And that’s why we’re not doing it.” In an interview with The Business of Fashion in Oct., Coach CEO Joshua Schulman pledged to phase out fur starting with the brand’s fall 2019 collection. Coach’s fur coats and accessories could be replaced by synthetic faux fur or scrapped altogether.
Despite multi-billion dollar brands pledging to eradicate real fur, the $40 billion global fur industry continues to push the narrative that fur is a sustainable, environmentally-friendly product. As one example, Fur is Green describes fur as more sustainable and ethically sourced than synthetic fur, which is generally made from a wide variety of chemicals.
On the other hand, animal rights groups continuously petition against the use of fur. PETA reports the fecal waste created by fur farms results in the production of approximately 1,000 tons of phosphorus each year, which pollutes freshwater sources. PETA continues their assessment by naming the fur industry among one of the worst for toxic-metal production, which is due to the hazardous process of cleaning fur. UN Ambassador of Peace and world-renowned conservationist Dr. Jane Goodall cited poor welfare conditions commonly found at fur farms, such as malnourished animals or filthy cages.
Just like other trends in fashion, the decision by the luxury labels (Burberry, Stella McCartney, Versace) to scrap fur influenced accessible labels such as H&M or Zara to also discontinue to use of fur. The biggest labels global blacklist of fur is likely to push smaller names to abandon their use as well. Regardless of your perception of fur, you are unlikely to find it on the mannequins of your local shopping mall.