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Mulberry Says Sayonara to ‘Exotic’ Skins

“Exotic” animal skins are now verboten at Mulberry, the latest in a line of luxury brands to eschew the use of alligators, crocodiles, ostriches, pythons and stingrays for luxury bag and shoes.

The British label, which already has a fur-free policy, says its upcoming spring/summer 2020 collection will be the first to outlaw exotic skins.

“[We] have spent a lot of time determining and then continually reviewing our sustainability metrics and targets,” Rosie Wollacott, sustainability manager at Mulberry, said in a statement. “At an early stage of this process, we decided not to use exotics in our collections, and this remains our position.”

Mulberry joins Chanel, Diane von Furstenberg, Paul Smith, Victoria Beckham and Vivienne Westwood in banning the materials from its assortments.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which says it had urged Mulberry to abandon exotic skins, called the brand’s “compassionate decision” a “sign of the times.”

“Behind every handbag or wallet made with exotic skins is an animal who suffered tremendously,” PETA director Elisa Allen said in a statement.“Mulberry’s decision to ban these cruelly obtained materials is a sign of the times, and PETA calls on other luxury labels to follow its lead.”

Mulberry’s decision comes of the heels of warnings by animal conservationists and activists alike about the risks of raising and selling exotic animals in a post-COVID-19 world.

More than 70 percent of emerging diseases that affect people have origins in wildlife and domesticated animals, according to the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, a Germany-based intergovernmental body with ties to the United Nations. ‘

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British Luxury Label Mulberry Bans 'Exotic' Skins From Fashion Lineup
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COVID-19 is believed to have originated in a wet market in Wuhan, China, where exotic animals, both alive and dead, were sold for human consumption.

The intensive farming of exotic animals for both their flesh and their skin, PETA says, poses a “similar risk of animal-to-human transmission of newly evolved viruses.”

The reverse may also be true: Minks at two fur farms in the Netherlands tested positive for COVID-19 last week. Officials say they believe the animals contracted the illness from workers at the farms, which have since been placed under quarantine.

Animal suffering aside, the potential for disease spread is another reason for all fashion businesses to go fur-free and for governments to disband “this dirty trade,” said Claire Bass, executive director of Humane Society International.

“One of the lessons we must learn from COVID-19 is that we cannot carry on pushing animals to the limit of their endurance without serious consequences for both animal and human health,” she told BBC News. “We urge the Netherlands and other countries in the process of phasing out fur farming to speed up their industry closures, and countries yet to commit to bans, including China and Finland, to do so now.”

A 2016 report from the Chinese Academy of Engineering found that 75 percent of China’s wildlife trade is dominated by fur production. Raccoon dogs, foxes, mink and other animals farmed for their fur often end up at wildlife wet markets, it noted.