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Fur Industry Strikes Back with ‘Game Changer’ Traceability Standard

Fur isn’t giving up its foothold without a fight, and it has one of luxury’s biggest names in its corner.

This week, the International Fur Federation (IFF) unveiled Furmark, a global certification and traceability system that it claims will not only guarantee animal welfare and environmental standards but will also “transform” the way fur is processed through its supply chain.

The trade group, which consists of 55 members across 38 countries, developed the program with input from LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the French conglomerate that operates marquee brands such as Fendi, Givenchy and Louis Vuitton.

The seal appears to be a direct response to the backlash against fur in recent years, especially in the West. A survey published last month by the Vegan Society found that 61 percent of Britons believe the use of fur is cruel, and 33 percent consider it outdated. Another poll conducted by Humane Society International and YouGov in 2020 found that 93 percent of Britons do not wear any fur, and 72 percent support a complete ban on the import and sale of the material in the United Kingdom.

The exodus by fashion’s trendmakers has only grown in strength. Since March, Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Canada Goose, Saks Fifth Avenue, Mackage, Mytheresa, Neiman Marcus, Oscar de la Renta and Valentino have announced plans to stop or phase out their use of fur. In June, Israel became the world’s first country to ban fur sales altogether.

“The fur industry causes the deaths of hundreds of millions of animals worldwide, and inflicts indescribable cruelty and suffering,” Israeli environmental protection minister Gila Gamliel said at the time. “Using the skin and fur of wildlife for the fashion industry is immoral and is certainly unnecessary. Animal fur coats cannot cover the brutal murder industry that makes them.”

But Furmark, IFF said, is poised to change how fur is perceived, open fur up to a new audience and respond to “unfounded accusations” of those opposed to its use in coats, jackets and trims. The group has previously taken aim at “faux” alternatives, which are typically derived from plastic fibers, although more sustainable versions made with wood-pulp “fluff” and corn byproducts are emerging.

“This is a game-changer: if people had doubts about buying or wearing natural fur, then they have been answered with Furmark,” said Mark Oaten, CEO of IFF. “Our centuries-old trade is undergoing its most significant transformation to date; traceable, sustainable products represent the real alternative to ‘fast fashion.’”

Products that receive the Furmark stamp of approval feature a unique alphanumeric code that pulls up information such as fur type, fur origin and manufacturer name and location. To ensure consistent standards, the seal only includes wild or farm-raised fur from leading animal-welfare programs such as WelFur, IFF said. Fully certified products must also be processed by accredited dressers and dyers who meet the SafeFur standard, which involves third-party testing and covers sustainability, chemical usage, emissions and product safety. Each stage of the manufacturing process is recorded using a “customer-accessible traceability component” that promotes transparency, it added.

Furmark “guarantees animal welfare and environmental standards and demonstrates our shared ambition to deliver a transparent, easy-to-understand certification,” Oaten said. “It means, in short, that people can confidently buy sustainable natural fur.” LVMH did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Animal-rights campaigners, whose decades-long cultural war against fur is finally paying off, are less enthused, however. Earlier this summer, Austria and the Netherlands led a coalition of European Union nations to ask the European Commission to legislate to end fur farming in Europe, citing changing attitudes that no longer justify breeding animals for their pelts. Last month, Ann Arbor became the seventh municipality in the United States—and the third outside California after Wellesley and Weston in Massachusetts—to outlaw the sale of fur. And just this week, more than 100 British parliamentarians wrote to environment secretary George Eustace to urge the government to ban the import and sale of fur in the United Kingdom, noting that doing so could help prevent future pandemics, since some experts believe fur farms can serve as breeding grounds for new viruses.

“Furmark is a cheap marketing ploy created by the fur industry in a last-ditch attempt to dupe the public into supporting its abjectly cruel practices,” Elisa Allen, director of the British arm of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, told Sourcing Journal. “Luckily, no one is buying it. Compassionate shoppers know that all fur, regardless of any obscuring label, is the product of a violent, bloody industry and that the only guarantee is that sentient beings were killed in order to create it.”

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