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PETA Became a Farfetch Shareholder—This is Why

Shares of Farfetch leaped more than 50 percent after the London-based luxury e-tailer sold 44.2 million shares and raised $885 million in its initial public offering debut on Friday. Among its investors? People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which says it will wield its newly purchased clout to convince Farfetch to stop selling fur garments on the company’s “website of horrors.”

“PETA is taking the campaign against Farfetch’s website of horrors—which includes vile products made from foxes, coyotes, chinchillas, and badgers and even fur garments for children—straight to its annual meetings and demanding a ban on fur sales,” Yvonne Taylor, PETA U.K.’s director of corporate projects, said in a statement.

PETA may find the zeitgeist on its side. Farfetch’s rival, Yoox Net-a-Porter, which runs Net-a-Porter, Mr. Porter, the Outnet and Yoox.com, has been fur-free since 2017. And when Burberry announced earlier this month that it will no longer be using animal fur, it was only following the well-heeled lead of brands such as Armani, Gucci, Hugo Boss, Michael Kors, Versace and Vivienne Westwood.

“The fur industry is headed for the history books, as modern, high-end designers are saying no to pelts and yes to beautiful and innovative vegan fabrics,” Taylor said.

In another likely blow to the fur lobby, Los Angeles is on track to ban the sale of fur clothing and accessories after a unanimous city council vote last week. Pending the results of a second vote, the City of Angels may supplant San Francisco as the largest city in the U.S. to approve of the prohibition of items such as fur coats, mink stoles, chinchilla-lined gloves and even “lucky” rabbits’ feet. San Francisco’s ban will go into effect in January, although furriers and other retailers will be allowed to sell current inventory until 2020.

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“The time is now,” said Councilman Bob Blumenfield at a rally outside City Hall before the votes were cast. “The greatness of a nation can be judged by how its animals are treated.”

PETA, whose motto reads, in part, “animals are not ours to wear,” has long excoriated conditions on fur farms in China, Europe and elsewhere, where animals are confined to filthy, tiny wire cages, bludgeoned, drowned and electrocuted to death or skinned alive. In the wild, foxes and coyotes caught in steel-jaw traps can suffer for days from blood loss, gangrene and attacks by predators before they’re strangled, stomped on or shot to death by returning trappers, according to the animal-rights group.

While PETA says it has met with Farfetch executives, the e-tailer “has yet to make the same compassionate and business-savvy decision [as Yoox Net-a-Porter],” Taylor said.

This isn’t the first time PETA has used the boardroom for leverage. In 2016, the organization purchased Prada shares so it could call for an end  to all exotic-skins sales from within.

Ahead of Prada’s annual meeting in April, a PETA-led protest outside the company’s Milan store featured a nude demonstrator painted to look like a snake and holding a sign that read, “Prada: Shed the Cruelty.” Last year, Italian singer Daniela Martani donned an “ostrich corpse” dress outside Prada headquarters as other life-size “ostriches” flocked around her.

“Prada knows full well that animals are hacked apart and skinned alive for its crocodile shoes and snakeskin handbags,” said Tracy Reiman, PETA’s executive vice president. “PETA is calling on the company to stop profiting from animals’ miserable lives and painful deaths by ending sales of exotic skins in favor of fabulous, innovative and luxurious vegan materials.”