High Fashion Houses Balenciaga and Alexander McQueen Adopt New Fur-Free Policy

Fur was originally worn for warmth and protection. When Indigenous groups would hunt for food, they would utilize every part of the animal, including their pelts. Today, many groups still utilize fur in traditional and ceremonial clothing. However, these pelts are often ethically sourced and an essential part of many different cultures.

Photo: Pexels/Julia Volk

The true unethical use of fur comes from the Western adoption, sparked by celebrities in the 20th century as a way to flaunt wealth and status. As furs and pelts became more and more popular in Hollywood, high fashion houses began marketing them as a measure of glamour and esteem. Once these fashion houses created a market for furs, fur farming became an extremely profitable business, thus leading to mass production of furs and the inhumane practices associated with it.

Many of us recognize the cruelty of wearing furs and supporting the businesses that produce them, and activist groups such as PETA have been fighting the trade for decades. However, despite their efforts to educate the masses, the wealthy minority that can afford high fashion brands continue to fan the fire of this cruel practice. From the 1990s, when the fur market first started blooming, to 2015, fur production has more than doubled to about a hundred million skins a year.

Photo: Adobe Stock/Rokas

In addition to concerns surrounding animal welfare, the fur industry also has an immense impact on the environment. In order for the animal skins to remain preserved and intact, and not rot and decompose over time, they must be treated with toxic chemicals like chromium and formaldehyde. These chemicals pose a risk not only to our waterways, but to the workers who treat the furs as well. Further, the land, feed, and water required to maintain the animals at the fur farms produces an immense amount of carbon emissions.

For all of these reasons and more, society has come together to recognize the huge negative impact the fur trade has on our environment. As fur continues to decline in popularity, and as vegan lifestyles become more accessible and popular, high fashion houses have no choice other than to remove fur from their product lines.

Photo: Adobe Stock/ChiccoDodiFC

Thankfully, many of these high fashion houses have recognized this change in societal priorities and have adjusted their policies to match. Prada, Gucci, Armani, and Versace are just a few designers that have dropped fur from their collections completely. Now, Balenciaga and Alexander McQueen have joined the rapidly expanding group, announcing the policy change in Kering’s 2020 Universal Registration document.

“This latest announcement that these two iconic fashion houses are fur-free is making a huge statement,” said PJ Smith, Director of Fashion Policy for the Humane Society of the United States. “As more brands move away from using fur, they pave the way for others to follow, as well as for future fur-free legislation. It used to be something when one brand would go fur-free, now, waves of companies are. The change has been fast since the momentum started in 2015 with Armani and Hugo Boss.”

The news of this policy change comes in as legislation banning fur sales becomes increasingly more popular. California recently became the first U.S. state to ban fur sales, in 2019, after several cities passed similar laws. Additionally, the United Kingdom, which banned fur production in 2003, aims to be the first country to ban fur sales all together. If you’d like to join the fight against the fur trade, consider signing this petition.

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