There was a time not too long ago when every major fashion event would draw a squad of animal activists carting buckets of red paint, ready for splashing on any fur coat that dared to appear on the runway or front row.
With an increasing number of brands swearing off animal-derived products, such fake bloodbaths are far less common today. Compared with 2021, there was a 644 percent increase of faux fur on the runway during this year’s men’s fall/winter shows, according to Tagwalk, a fashion search engine. When New York Fashion Week kicks off another globe-trotting sartorial extravaganza, this time with a focus on women’s wear, the fur will be equally sparse, animal campaigners predict.
Dolce & Gabanna, after all, is only the latest in a long line of luxury purveyors to bid farewell to the likes of mink, fox, chinchilla and sable, once status symbols but now irrevocably linked with graphic videos of shrieking animals. (Thanks, PETA!) Brands such as Canada Goose, Mackage and Moncler, which trimmed their high-end Arctic-grade jackets with the fuzzy stuff, have nixed the material. Rarified nameplates like Balenciaga, Gucci, Oscar de la Renta, Prada, Valentino and Versace have cried uncle. Even the hallowed fur salons of Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue are kaput. An entire country—that would be Israel—has outlawed the sale of fur.
“With so many brands and retailers dropping animal fur, many are asking: ‘Who’s left?’” Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States and CEO of Humane Society International, said in a blog post Thursday.
The answer is more than you might think. Despite Italy banning fur farming and the Congress fixing to do the same, fur isn’t completely down for the count just yet. Hermès, Max Mara, Philipp Plein, Roberto Cavalli, Salvatore Ferragamo, Woolrich and Yves Salomon still sell fur from animals, Block noted. Neither has LVMH, the parent company for brands Dior, Fendi, Givenchy and Marc Jacobs, given up the ghost. In the United States, Belk, Dillard’s and Kohl’s are still pro-fur, while Britain’s holdouts include Harrods, Harvey Nichols and House of Fraser.
“Even though that list is incredibly small compared to the long list of companies that have chosen a humane way forward, it’s clear there’s more work to do, and we’re determined to finish the job,” Block said. “We will continue to engage these brands and retailers to show them that cruelty is never fashionable and to point out that the ethically minded consumer base—those who care about animals and the environment and want the companies they support to align with those values—is only going to get larger and louder.”
The fur industry has hit back, expressing its disappointment at brands that it says are abandoning fur in favor of plastic alternatives, from which most faux fur is made. Ecopel’s Koba, which is partly derived from corn, and Ugg’s Fluff, made from Tencel-branded lyocell, are some of the eco-friendlier available options currently available, though innovation “white spaces” still abound. Dolce & Gabbana said earlier this month that it’s working with “master furriers” to create a “sustainable faux fur alternative that uses recycled and recyclable materials.”
Block is in favor of accelerating the fur-free trend through legislation. California and 10 U.S. cities have already barred fur sales. Animal-welfare groups are keeping their fingers crossed that the United Kingdom will cross that Rubicon, too, and make fur verboten.
“As long as these companies continue to sell fur despite animal suffering and the overwhelming evidence of the environmental and public health risks inherent to fur trade, there’s still a need for related policy reform,” she said. “By banning fur sales, we eliminate fur products from the marketplace, bolster innovative cruelty-free materials, save countless animal lives and give companies such as Max Mara, LVMH, Dillard’s and Harrods incentive to go fur-free.”