Moncler announced Tuesday that it will phase out the use of fur in all its collections in a move that follows a spate of negative press linking the Italian luxury skiwear maker to inhumane conditions on so-called “high-welfare” fox farms in Finland, among other things. The company, whose fall/winter 2023 lineup is poised to be the last to use fur, will stop sourcing the material this year.
“This decision is consistent with Moncler’s ongoing commitment to responsible business practices and builds on the brand’s constructive and long-term engagement with the Italian animal-rights organization LAV as a representative of the Fur Free Alliance,” Moncler said in a statement.
The outerwear purveyor, whose high-end jackets can retail for up to $2,000 apiece, said it would continue to use down and feathers that are sourced as by-products of the food industry according to “specific sustainability standards.” Moncler also uses faux fur, derived from synthetic fibers, to trim many of its popular styles.
Moncler’s native Italy recently voted to outlaw fur farming and shutter the country’s remaining mink farms within six months, though fur-containing products can still be bought and sold. Other rarified Italian brands, including Armani, Gucci, Prada, Versace and Valentino have already announced plans to drop fur. Armani also axed angora fur in December.
“We’re thrilled Moncler is committed to making the fashion industry more humane,” PJ Smith, fashion policy director for the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International, said in a statement. “Italy has quickly become a hub for fur-free fashion now that the country banned fur farming last year and many of its renowned brands are fur-free.”
In an undercover investigation published in November, the Humane Society International/United Kingdom listed Moncler among a slew of luxury names connected to “distressing” suffering at farms that Finnish fur auction house Saga Furs had given its seal of approval for promoting standards of animal wellbeing, housing and hygiene “well beyond what the law requires.” Researchers described animals trapped in small wire cages with “painfully swollen” eyes, “deformed” feet with overgrown claws and poor body condition, including obesity.
Retail staff for Moncler, the Humane Society International/United Kingdom found, have also been promoting “misleading” information about conditions for animals on fur farms. At Harrods’ fur salon in London in November, one Moncler sales assistant told an undercover shopper that its Finnish fox fur was only a by-product “from animals who were already taken for other purposes, like for example meat or something else,” despite British law banning breeding foxes for human consumption.
Meanwhile, a December study by animal-rights group Four Paws and ratings platform Good on You, which rated 111 of the most—and least—animal-friendly fashion brands, gave Moncler a score of 0 percent, largely because of its “high rate of wildlife exploitation and general lack of transparency.
Not everyone is happy with Moncler’s fur-free resolution, however. Mike Brown, CEO of Americas at the International Fur Federation, a trade group that represents 56 members associations in more than 40 countries, said he urged Moncler to “rethink its decision.”
“I am very disappointed that Moncler has decided to no longer use natural fur and in turn stop supporting sustainable natural fashion and promote plastic alternatives,” he told Sourcing Journal. “Moncler should give their customers the freedom of choice between plastic or natural fur. By listening to a small minority of animal activists, they will now come under pressure to ban wool, silk and other natural materials.”
Animal activists, however, want Moncler to go further, and nix down as well. Moncler drew headlines in 2014 after a program on Italian state media accused the brand’s suppliers of using cruel methods to pluck the geese, which sent its shares tumbling by as much as 6 percent. Moncler denied the allegations at the time, saying it only sourced down from suppliers that were contractually obligated to safeguard animal welfare.
“No one is in any doubt today that fur is as dead as the animals it was stolen from, and many brands are embracing sustainable, innovative vegan fabrics, realizing that to be truly ethical, all animal-derived products must be removed from fashion, including down, which PETA has revealed is often obtained by ripping out struggling geese’s feathers by the fistful, leaving open, bloody wounds,” Yvonne Taylor, director of corporate projects at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals U.K., told Sourcing Journal.
But kudos are still in order, Taylor said, calling Moncler’s move the culmination of years of pressures from campaigners, including nearly 100,000 e-mails from PETA supporters around the globe.
“Bravissimo to Moncler for finally getting with the times and joining Gucci, Versace, Prada, Valentino, Armani, Canada Goose and just about every other major fashion brand in going fur-free,” she added.