Natural fur is one of the most sustainable materials available on the market and part of the solution to the challenge of fast fashion and the proliferation of other non-renewable and sustainable materials and practices.
It is also a major, global industry worth some $30 billion a year and employing hundreds of thousands of people. Fur has an extensive supply chain covering everything from wild trappers in the Canadian tundra, the auction houses in Copenhagen and Helsinki, the dressing and dyeing plants of Italy and Greece, the skilled furriers in the design studios of New York to the boutiques and fashion houses of Paris and London. Driving change and improvement in such a diverse and complex industry is not easy or straightforward, but it is right, and it is expected.
We recognized that it was time to both codify what the industry already did but also to set out an overarching framework with clear goals so that it would be able to move, collectively, toward a position of ever greater sustainability. As a federation with a unique relationship across the supply chain we are well placed to do this work.
The global fur industry therefore developed ambitious programs and a clear direction of travel for the industry and wider supply chain around animal welfare, environmental protection and for the people and communities that work in the sector, as part of its first sustainability strategy.
The strategy, ‘Natural Fur,’ was launched by the International Fur Federation (IFF), the global body for the fur sector, at an event to coincide with London Fashion Week at the Danish Embassy in London in February 2020.
The strategy sets out future ambitions for the fur sector, based around the UN’s sustainable development goals, and consists of ground-breaking global initiatives, targeted interventions and clear goals that will move the industry forward on its sustainability journey.
The Natural Fur Strategy will consist of 3 key pillars and 8 major initiatives:
- Already based on stringent controls, standards and independent inspection, the strategy will commit the sector to launch FURMARK this year, a global welfare certification and traceability scheme that will incorporate a range of species-specific farm raised and wild fur programs providing consumers visibility and transparency. As well as animal welfare standards, FURMARK will measure and control key environmental goals including emissions, chemical usage, waste and use of energy.
- The strategy will commit the industry bring other fur bearing species and country specific programs into FURMARK by 2025 as the respective science-based, certification standards are implemented and independently assessed
- The strategy will commit the sector to conduct independent science-based evaluations of the carbon footprint of farm raised and wild fur followed by the introduction of ambitious ten-year reduction targets
- The strategy will commit the sector to the roll out of a comprehensive chemical standard for the dressing and dying process backed by third party inspection and verification
- The strategy will commit the sector to programs to promote re-use, up-cycling and recycling of natural fur
- The strategy will commit the sector to the roll out the requirement of businesses involved in the fur sector to ensure globally recognzsed business practices including anti-corruption policies
- The strategy will commit the sector to the roll out of initiatives to recognize the role of workers within the supply chain including adoption of industry wide anti-slavery commitments and recognition of indigenous peoples involved in fur production
- The strategy will commit the sector to introducing social and environmental certification through the FURMARK supply chain by 2025.
These are solid, tangible and measurable commitments, not hollow words. And, of course, all of those involved in the sector and wider supply chain have a role to play in helping to meet and deliver them. To help with delivering this strategy, the strategy will be reported regularly and subject to external transparency and validation.
The challenge has been set for all of those in the fur sector.
By Mark Oaten, chief executive, International Fur Federation