Chalk up another win for the critters.
Canada’s APP Group, which owns luxury outerwear makers Mackage and Soia & Kyo, said Tuesday that it’s giving animal pelts the kiss-off across all its brands.
The conglomerate made the announcement through People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which has been lobbying APP Group to nix the rabbit, fox and Finland raccoon furs that line many of its rarified wool coats.
It’s another sign of fur’s slipping hold on Western consumers. Since March, several fashion nameplates have announced plans to halt or phase out their use of the material, including Kering brands Alexander McQueen and Balenciaga, Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Valentino and fellow Great White Northerners Canada Goose, Moose Knuckles and Holt Renfrew. Further east, Israel became the first country to outlaw the sale of fur barring certain religious exceptions. The United Kingdom is mulling a similar ban. California has made the sale of new fur verboten since 2019, and New York could be next to follow suit.
“Any retailer who can read the writing on the wall is giving fur the boot,” Tracy Reiman, executive vice president of PETA, said in a statement. “Pieces of animals’ stolen coats are disappearing from the shelves of brands from Canada Goose and Moose Knuckles to Simons and Winners, so PETA is singing, ‘Ding-dong, the wicked fur industry is dead.’”
In gratitude, PETA sent APP Group a box of vegan chocolates.
It’s been a challenging time for the fur industry despite robust demand in China and Russia, the world’s top markets for animal pelts. Denmark all but wiped out its once-booming mink trade after a large number of the animals contracted and died from Covid-19, which they also passed back to people in mutated form. Up to 17 million mink were culled, or some 40 percent of the world’s supply. Similar infections occurred in other countries, including the United States, where a bipartisan bill introduced in the House of Representatives earlier this month could ban the import, export, transport, sale and purchase of mink over coronavirus concerns.
“The farming of mink used for fur production is inhumane,” Mace said in a statement. “This practice is not only an animal welfare concern, but a public health one too. America has suffered enough throughout this pandemic, and there is no need to continue an abusive animal practice that puts Americans’ health at risk through the mink’s high susceptibility to Covid-19.”
There are roughly 275 mink farms in 23 states across the United States, producing about 3 million pelts per year to a tune of more than $300 million, according to Fur Commission U.S.A., which represents American mink farmers.
Up to one-quarter of U.S. mink farms have seen outbreaks of Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, with nearly half of Utah farms infected. This month, the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) filed a temporary emergency rule requiring all mink ranchers to vaccinate their animals against Covid-19. The move is meant to keep the contagion from mutating in mink and then jumping back to people.
“ODA is taking the necessary precautions to reduce the risk of infection in captive mink, as well as reduce the risk of potential mutation of the virus and the potential for virus transmission back to humans,” state veterinarian Ryan Scholz said in a statement. “It is critical that owner/operators vaccinate their mink against the virus. In addition, ongoing surveillance testing will provide assurance that the vaccine is effective and infection has not occurred on the farms.”
Although Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials have said that there is currently no evidence that mink are “playing a significant role in the spread of SARS-CoV-2 to people,” animal-rights groups insist that mink pose unique public health risks.
According to a study published by the Center for a Humane Economy, Animal Wellness Action and other partner organizations this month, new outbreaks on mink farms and transmission of the virus to people and wild mink in the United States are a “near certainty” unless they’re shut down.
“If SARS-CoV-2 could design its perfect habitat, it might closely resemble a mink ranch: a stressed, immuno-suppressed inbred host with thousands of other mink kept in very small cages,” James Keen, a former senior scientist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and author of the report, said in a statement. “This environment maximizes chances for infections and mutations.”
Last month, Austria and the Netherlands led a coalition of European Union nations asking the European Commission to legislate to end fur farming in Europe. Bulgaria, Italy and Poland have expressed support for the initiative.
Ireland is also set to ban fur farming on its three mink farms, which rear 120,000 animals between them. All three were forced to cull tens of thousands of mink earlier this year because of Covid-19 fears. The outright ban is not expected to take effect until early 2022, though a ramp-up could take place in the months leading to the deadline should the motion pass.
“Society has changed and attitudes to keeping animals in captive specifically for their fur,” Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue told reporters in June. “Attitudes have really changed significantly toward that.”