In case you missed it, this fashion month has seen a host of designer labels rush to assure us that they are in no way connected Curticub, the rabbit farms in Spain accused of animal cruelty. According to an investigation carried out by Last Chance for Animals, a non-profit organisation that campaigns for animal welfare, brands including Burberry, Christian Dior, Armani, Yves Saint Laurent and Marc Jacobs used those farms despite evidence of animal cruelty. Last Chance for Animals claims that workers in some of the farms investigated were seen”callously bashing sick rabbits to death” and that, “crippled, diseased and severely wounded rabbits were left to suffer with no medical treatment”.
“Following in-depth investigations, we can confirm that Saint Laurent is not connected in any way, either directly or indirectly, to Curticub,” the label told Vogue earlier this week. Burberry also rushed to defend its use of fur and, of course, its share price claiming that it “does not use fur if there is concern that its production has involved the unacceptable treatment of animals.”
Call us naive, but is there a way of killing animals for their coats that is acceptable? Is rearing animals for the sole purpose of turning them into fashion accessories not, by anyone’s standards, cruel?
Figures released last March by the International Fur Federation show that sales of global fur products are estimated at a staggering £24 billion – that’s approximately the same as the global wi-fi market! According to Vogue magazine, the industry now employs more than one million people.
“It’s easy to get caught up in the emotions that the business can generate, but the truth is that the fur trade is an economic cornerstone in Europe and beyond,” IFF CEO Mark Oaten told The Telegraph. “Much of the fashion and increasingly the soft furnishings world relies on fur – and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.”
Fur sales suffered dramatic falls in the 1990s with supermodels like Naomi Campbell announcing they’d “rather go naked than wear fur” (only to turn up at a party in a sable coat a short time later – classic Campbell.) However, we’ve seen an explosion of fur on the catwalks in recent years with everyone from Marni to Joseph Altuzarra showing fur in their collections. And, according to Charles Ross,Head of International Marketing for Saga Furs, “this is almost the golden age in the fur industry – our skin prices are going up 20-30% every year.” Saga’s fur auction house in Finland supplies fox, mink and raccoon fur to more than 400 brands, many of which show at fashion week. The message is clear -fur is back in favour with the fashion pack.
Opponents like PETA call the use of fur barbaric and cruel but supporters claim it’s natural and sustainable. Nonetheless, retail giants like Harvey Nichols that had previously implemented a decade long ban on fur in the luxury department store, have in the last year stocked clothes trimmed with fox, rabbit and raccoon fur. We can only presume this was due to consumer demand and in response to a fashion week where 70% of designers showed fur.
One place that you won’t find fur for sale is West Hollywood. The area’s city council brought in a law in 2011 that fines fashion retailers found to be selling fur $200 for the first offence, $400 for the second offence, and $800 for a third offence. Each fine is also subject to a $50 administrative fee. As you might expect, the law has been the subject of much controversy. The law was challenged by accessories boutique Mayfair House as unconstitutional. Although unsuccessful, an appeal is already on the cards. In his ruling, U.S. District Judge George H. King in Los Angeles stated that the ban doesn’t illegally discriminate against retailers of new clothing by allowing sales of used fur by private parties and second-hand stores as well as sales of furniture with fur.
“That the city did not choose to completely ban the sale of fur does not interfere with its goal of promoting the humane treatment of animals. The city is free to make incremental change, rather than adopt an entire ban on the sale of fur at once.”
PETA state that “95 per cent of the British public would never wear real fur and rightly regard the industry as one of the most violent, bloody and barbaric on the planet”. But is this accurate? Would 95% of the British public really refuse to wear fur? We’re skeptical as to where they got these figures. What do you think – is real fur inhumane and unacceptable? And is it ever acceptable?