2K18 GOING FUR-FREE
With an increasing number of luxury brands going fur-free, it seems like 2018 marked the year fur fell out of fashion. Joining the ranks of Stella McCartney (fur-free since launching in 2001) and Calvin Klein (fur-free since 1994), Gucci, Michael Kors, and Versace have all pledged to adopt a stringent anti-fur policy for their 2018 and 2019 collections. Although this promotion of an anti-fur aesthetic is a welcome surprise for brands that were once synonymous with fur, and while it certainly does promote and encourage more ethical modes of consumption, it does not mark the end to the sale of animal by-products, such as cowhide or shearling. With recent technological advances in methods of fabrication, however, it becomes increasingly easy to artificially mimic and manipulate the aesthetic properties of fur. As such, the raising and slaughtering of animals solely for their pelts has become outmoded, obsolete, and unnecessarily cruel, to say the least. As Macro Bizzarri, chief executive and president of Gucci, stated: “I don’t think [fur] is still modern and that’s the reason why we decided not to [use it].
THE ETHICALLY-INCLINED MILLENNIAL
This drive towards embracing a no-fur policy, or what some are calling ‘compassionate fashion,’ comes at a time when luxury brands and consumers alike are starting to take the ethical and fair treatment of animals more seriously. According to a recent study, Millennials (Gen X) and Post-Millenials (Gen Z) — the primary targets of consumerist capitalist society — are more ethically inclined than previous generations, and thus consider animal welfare and environmental issues when making purchases.
In our evermore networked and globalized (social media governed) world, trends fall out of fashion as soon as they arise. In order to remain relevant, brands need to update themselves — complying with the needs, wants, and desires of their consumer base. If social impact is important to the younger generations, then brands will, of course, follow their lead. More than ever, brands today sell consumers not just a garment or accessory, but an identity. By adopting a no-fur policy, luxury houses such as Gucci, Michael Kors, and Versace, are selling Millennials an identity that already aligns and shares affinities with their own. Ultimately, Millennials want to be sold an ethos. Discussing the recent decision to go fur free, Gucci’s creative director Alessandro Michele remarked: “Fashion has always been about trends and emotions and anticipating the wishes and desires of consumers.”
HISTORY REPEATING ITSELF?
If this shift towards adopting an anti-fur policy is little more than a trend, will it stick? It’s not the first time the fashion world took a stance against the use of fur — in the 1990s supermodels, such as Naomi Campbell and Christy Turlington, were the faces of PETA’s “I’d rather go naked than wear fur” ad campaigns. Hard hitting advertisements like PETA’s helped contribute to the rise of a younger generation who took an active stance against the use of fur in the fashion industry. By 2010, however, this fad had gone out of fashion and fur was making a vengeful comeback. Will Gucci, Michael Kors, and Versace stick to their anti-fur resolutions, or is this merely history repeating itself? Karl Lagerfeld, creative director of both Fendi and Dior, had an unabashed opinion on the issue, stating that he found the current debate surrounding the use of fur in the fashion industry “childish.” He is not alone — Hermès, Louis Vuitton, and Fendi have all remained pro-fur.
FUR’S VENGEFUL COMEBACK: TBD
Pulling in $40 billion globally per year, the fur industry will not disappear without a fight. Just as luxury brands seek to update themselves in order to remain relevant, so too will the multi-billion-dollar fur industry. While we can’t predict the future, we can tell you that fur (if only temporarily) is ‘out.’