The mystery to the shock departure of Paula Reed from Harvey Nichols after only one year as creative director has been revealed. Animal rights group PETA say that Reed resigned because she broke the store’s anti-fur policy. PETA claim that Harvey Nichols CEO Joseph Wan had confirmed the reason for her departure in a meeting, stating that, “Reed was singlehandedly responsible for breaking Harvey Nichols’ strict decade-long policy against selling fur.”
Despite a decade long ban on fur in the luxury department store, clothes trimmed with fox, rabbit and raccoon fur were made available in the last year since Reed took over as creative director. In the days before she quit, animal rights protesters had sent more than 5,000 emails and thousands of messages on twitter urging her to stop selling fur.
But is it fair for Reed to lose her job? Or was she simply responding to a growing demand for fur in fashion? 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 autumn/winter 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. 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. Whatever your views, Reed’s decision to introduce fur was no doubt based on growing consumer demand and in response to a fashion week where 70% of designers showed fur.
PETA released the following statement;
“We ask Harvey Nichols to realign itself now with the ethical values of the British public – 95 per cent of whom would never wear real fur and who rightly regard the industry as one of the most violent, bloody and barbaric on the planet – and reinstate its ban on fur.”
But this is 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? Or would you happily don a full length white mink a la Alexis Carrington circa 1985?