Gucci Goes Fur-Free

Exiting news! Gucci has decided to abandon animal fur. Beginning with their Spring 2018 collection, Gucci will be fur-free.

In an interview with Business of Fashion, Marco Bizzarri said “Do you think using furs today is still modern? I don’t think it’s still modern and that’s the reason why we decided not to do that. It’s a little bit out-dated.” This sentiment closely echoes that of Giorgio Armani, who stated last year that “Technological progress made over the years allows us to have valid alternatives at our disposal that render the use of cruel practices unnecessary as regards animals.” And Gucci is far from alone in these sentiments.

It seems that Gucci, Armani, and a host of other designers – including Calvin Klein, Stella McCartney, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, American Apparel, H&M, Topshop and Zara – have concluded that fur is old-fashioned, cruel, and entirely unnecessary.

Faux fur has improved in quality substantially in recent years, prompting many designers to abandon animal fur. And perhaps more significantly than having individual designers go fur-free, retailers are beginning to join in. Earlier this year, online fashion juggernaut Yoox Net-A-Porter announced it would stop selling fur on any of its online retail platforms. They now join Selfridges and Liberty in refusing to stock fur items. This is important, since fur producers rely on department stores and retailers as a means of getting their product to market. Consumers must be highly motivated to seek fur out without seeing it displayed online or in stores.

Fur Industry Growth

The fur industry has spent a fortune in recent years on public misinformation campaigns designed to confuse consumers. And it’s paid off handsomely. After their massively successful “Fur is Green” campaign, fur sales more than doubled between 2011 and 2013. And Canada Goose has had massive success telling customers about their trapped coyote fur, which seems to go over better with consumers than farmed fur. Still, over 80% of fur – even in Canada – comes from fur farms. So this is clearly yet another example of greenwashing animal products.

Very few consumers pause to question (or even consciously consider) the fact that Canada Goose weaves a carefully constructed pro-fur message into the marketing of their pricey parkas. And many take the Fur Council of Canada’s “Fur is Green” marketing at face value – in spite of the inherent conflict of interest involved.

The Environment

The fur industry often points to the negative effects produced by machine washing faux fur, but this is a red herring. It would be madness to wash any fur – faux or real – in a washing machine. And even if you do, the effect is not much worse than washing other synthetic materials, especially acrylic. The same is true of disposal. If you are using any plastic in your life, you need to consider the environmental consequences. But emotionally (and erroneously) concluding that faux fur is somehow worse than the plastic mesh protecting your avocados is not going to help.

I’ve written previously about the environmental cost of real fur. But it’s worth remembering that when it comes to environmental damage, animal fur blows its competition out of the water – and not in a good way. Fur farms cause untold environmental damage, and as the David Suzuki foundation has reported, are responsible for seriously polluting our waterways and contributing to the acidification of nearby bodies of water. And counter to fur industry propaganda, fur from wild animals is not much better, since it is

Gucci and Faux Fur Innovation

As part of their announcement, Gucci stated they would be using faux fur to replace animal fur in items where the look demands it. This is important, because it means that Gucci has discovered faux fur they believe will appeal to their luxury customers. Obviously, if faux fur was an inferior product, Gucci would not use it! Their consumers care a great deal about the look and feel of their clothes, as do Gucci’s designers.

Faux fur technology has improved by leaps and bounds over the past few years. One company leading the way in faux fur innovation is Shrimps, a London fashion house headed by Hannah Weiland. Shrimps specializes in unique, luxurious faux fur items. Their products aren’t cheap (a coat could cost you thousands), but that’s precisely the point. Shrimps’ products pass the infamous “blow” test, in which a small circle is blown on the fur with a breath. This used a quick way to determine whether fur was of animal origin. However, thanks to textile innovation, it’s no longer a reliable test.

It’s time for fashion to move into the 21st century. I’m very happy to see Gucci making strides in this direction, and even happier to see retailers like Net-A-Porter refusing to sell fur. Let’s hope these innovations continue, and that fur is just the beginning of a larger shift to animal-free textiles.

 

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