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Fleeing From Fur: Canada Goose, Holt Renfrew Make Animal-Friendly Pledges

Canada Goose, once a thorn in animal activists’ side for trimming its down-stuffed parkas with coyote fur, will soon be doing away with the material entirely.

On Thursday, the Toronto-headquartered luxury outerwear maker announced that it will phase out the purchase of fur by the end of 2021 and stop manufacturing with fur altogether “no later” than the close of 2022. The move, Canada Goose said, stems from its focus on “relentless innovation,” “expanding lifestyle relevance” and its purpose-driven Humanature—pronounced “human nature”—platform.

The brand had previously pledged to halt the purchase of new fur, adopting reclaimed fur that already exists in the supply chain in its stead. Last year, it unveiled the Reclaimed Fur Standard, a tool to help it verify the origin and provenance of the material. Now it will go even further.

“Our focus has always been on making products that deliver exceptional quality, protection from the elements, and perform the way consumers need them to; this decision transforms how we will continue to do just that,” president and CEO Dani Reiss said in a statement. “We continue to expand—across geographies and climates—launching new categories and products designed with intention, purpose and functionality. At the same time, we are accelerating the sustainable evolution of our designs.”

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which once paraded images of dead geese and coyotes alongside the words “Here is the Rest of Your Canada Goose Jacket” outside the Canada Goose office, hailed the decision, albeit with a warning that it would continue to advocate for an end to the company’s use of down.

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PETA and its affiliates are suspending their international campaigns against Canada Goose today, after years of eye-catching protests, hard-hitting exposés, celebrity actions, and legal battles, as the company has finally conceded and will stop using fur—sparing sensitive, intelligent coyotes from being caught and killed in barbaric steel traps,” president Ingrid Newkirk said in a statement. “PETA will now re-engage the company to push for an end to its use of feathers, which geese and ducks continue to suffer for.”

Barbara Cartwright, CEO of Humane Canada, also praised Canada Goose’s plan, calling it a “significant step forward toward building a more humane and sustainable world. We applaud Canada Goose’s commitment to end the use of all fur by late 2022 and the leadership position [it is] taking in [its] industry.”

PETA protest at Saks Fifth Ave in Beverly Hills. PETA is trying to get retailers such as Canada Goose and SAKS Fifth Avenue to stop selling fur products and end the cruelty and pain caused by the use of animals for their fur.
PETA protest at Saks Fifth Ave in Beverly Hills. PETA is trying to get retailers such as Canada Goose and SAKS Fifth Avenue to stop selling fur products and end the cruelty and pain caused by the use of animals for their fur. gotpap/STAR MAX/IPx 2021

In a similar move, Holt Renfrew, the Canadian luxury department store, declared Thursday that it will scupper the sale of all animal fur and exotic skins by the end of the year as part of a broader goal to “reinvent retail for a better future.” It’s the first and only Canadian retailer, it said, to establish approved science-based targets that are consistent with levels required to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, including a 65 percent reduction in absolute Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse-gas emissions by 2030 and a 28 percent decrease in absolute Scope 3 greenhouse-gas emissions by 2030, both from a 2019 base year.

Holt Renfrew will also boost its sourcing of cotton, leather, down and feathers, plastic packaging, palm oil and forest-derived fibers from certified and verified sustainable sources. By the close of 2025, all denim assortments will come from certified and verified sustainable sources, it said.

“Retail can be a force for good, and we know that our customers want to make trusted, responsible purchases,” president and CEO Sebastian Picardo, said in a statement.  ”Our 360-degree commitment to sustainability removes the barriers for them, allowing them to shop with confidence, in a responsible way.”

Rebecca Aldworth, executive director of Humane Society International/Canada, which will be working with Holt Renfrew on the fur and skins phase-out, described its “progressive suite of sustainability commitments” as a “tremendous step forward for animal protection and also a sign of changing consumer habits.”

“Today’s consumers are increasingly informed and motivated to ensure that their purchases are cruelty-free and sustainable,” she said in a statement. “We commend Holt Renfrew for these progressive commitments and the company’s leadership role in reflecting compassion in fashion. Clearly, the future of fashion is fur-free.”

Both Canada Goose and Holt Renfrew’s announcement signal another inflection point for fur, whose sale was banned by Israel—the first country to do so—earlier this month. The past year alone has seen Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Valentino and former fur bastion Saks Fifth Avenue either drop or plan to drop pelts from their collections. They’re now part of a growing fur-free fellowship that includes Armani, Burberry, Bloomingdale’s, Chanel, DKNY, Farfetch, Gucci, Jimmy Choo, Macy’s, Michael Kors, Nordstrom, Prada, Versace and Yoox Net-a-Porter.

The International Fur Federation, a trade group, said last week, however, that the global fur retail trade is still worth $20.1 billion, indicating a “strong bounce-back since Covid-19 pandemic.” It cited a recent University of Copenhagen study, which found that the government-mandated cull of mink in Denmark had little effect on fur retail sales in 2020 even though an estimated 25 percent of worldwide production was wiped out. Demand from China and South Korea fueled much of the business, the study said.

“Even when the pandemic and the Danish situation are taken into account, fur retail sales are soaring—with e-commerce incredibly strong,” Mark Oaten, CEO of the International Fur Federation, said in a statement. “All sectors have been hit—but actions speak louder than words. Ours is a resilient and global trade, providing people with something of immense value: sustainable natural products that are made to last. People vote with their wallets; they are voting for quality, for sustainability and for fur.”

But designers can create clothing without the use of “suffering caused by the fur trade,” fashion designers Stella McCartney, Katharine Hamnett and Vivienne Westwood wrote in a letter to U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson in March, urging him to strip the material from store shelves. “The sale of fur is simply not aligned with the ethical trajectory of the vast majority of retailers, designers and businesses that make up the British fashion retail industry.”