Is The End of Fur Fashion Finally Near?
2019 has not been a good year for the fur industry.
While a major slew of celebrities, brands and fashion shows have decided to ditch fur entirely, the global fur industry is now facing a more existential threat: being outlawed entirely.
Kim Kardashian, once the most recognizable Hollywood celebrity regularly promoting fur fashion to her millions of fans, has not only had all of her fur coats remade with faux fur, she’s even gone vegan.
Kim Kardashian’s newfound conscience however, is only interrupting a family tradition that goes back years. In the case of another high profile celebrity who recently ditched fur, it means interrupting a centuries-long tradition of exploiting animals for fashion. Queen Elizabeth II, who is technically head of state of 15 different countries, will from now on be wearing only faux fur to all official engagements, in response to pressure from the UK’s fast-growing animal rights movement.
An Industry-Wide Shift
While Kim Kardashian and Queen Elizabeth may have spent tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars on fur clothing over the years, in 2019 the fur industry lost some much bigger clients. Many of the biggest names in fashion design and retail, including Gucci, Versace, Michael Kors, Prada, Bebe, John Galliano, DKNY, Calvin Klein, Burberry, Giorgio Armani, Tommy Hilfiger, Vivienne Westwood, Ralph Lauren, Coach, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Chanel andVictoria Beckham have now adopted fur-free policies.
But perhaps the most iconic and devastating loss for the industry was the largest department store in America, retail giant Macy’s. With $25 billion in annual sales, 130,000 employees and 612 stores across the United States (Macy’s fur-free policy also applies to their sister company Bloomingdale’s), it may have seemed like 2019 couldn’t have possibly gotten any worse for the fur industry. Enter the State of California.
The Gavel Falls on the Industry: Outlawing Fur
Building on local bans in West Hollywood, Berkeley, Los Angeles and San Francisco, on October 13th the entire state of California outlawed the sale and production of fur, following a ban on fur trapping passed only a month earlier. Facing extinction in the state with the largest population and economy in the country doesn’t just represent a financial loss for the fur industry, but is likely an omen of things to come across the entire United States. California has long been the most progressive state in the country, generally leading the way on social, environmental, and now animal welfare laws, leading to the saying “as goes California, so goes the Nation”.
American animal lovers may not have to wait very long for their next piece of good news, as the city of New York, a much colder place than California where fur fashion is disturbingly common, is also in the process of potentially outlawing the fur industry.
If you’d like to take action to support the campaign to ban fur in New York City please see the Fur Free NYC site linked here.
A Global Trend
California is not alone in it’s historic anti-fur legislation. 16 Countries have now outlawed fur farming including Austria, Bosnia, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Macedonia, Serbia, Slovenia and the United Kingdom. Fur farming is also currently being phased out in Denmark and Japan. While Germany’s fur ban will not take effect until 2022, it’s existing restrictions on fur farms led to the last fur farm in the country being shut down in April, with similar developments underway in Sweden, Switzerland and New Zealand. Ireland, Poland, Lithuania and Ukraine are currently considering fur farm ban legislation, while only Sao Paolo State in Brazil and India have enacted bans as comprehensive as California’s on the actual sale of fur, which is pivotal to eliminating demand and finally abolishing what is possibly the most unnecessarily cruel industry on the planet.
It’s Not All Good News — The Enduring Popularity of Dog Fur
While the global fur industry may be in trouble, one might never know that from walking the streets of New York, Toronto or London in the wintertime, where Canada Goose dog fur coats (yes, coyotes are wild dogs, see dictionary for details) are still all too common.
While Canada Goose is undoubtedly facing some pressure from the trend against brutal animal cruelty in fashion (the company’s stock has lost half it’s value over the last year), their sales are still growing, posting $830 million in revenue so far this year. While not all of those sales represent their famous fur-trimmed jackets, and they even recently purged all fur-trim jackets from their social media accounts, perhaps signalling an upcoming shift away from fur, it is crucial to remember that it is not only the fur trim that causes horrific animal cruelty, the process of obtaining of bird feathers, aka “down” is equally horrific. The same is true for the leather and wool industries.
How Did We Get Here and How To Abolish Fur For Good?
In the 80’s and 90’s full-length fur coats were driven out of fashion by a mix of traditional PSA campaigns and in-your-face, sometimes even illegal activism symbolized by the notorious act of throwing paint on fur wearers.
21st century anti-fur activists are much luckier in that we have a completely legal way of combatting the fur industry, in the form of a much more effective weapon we all hold in our pockets: our phones. From filming public interactions, conversations and shaming of fur wearers, as is very effectively done by New York activist Rob Banks, to helping out with larger campaigns being organized by groups like the Fur Free Alliance , the Anti-Fur Society and the Fur Bearer Defenders, a fur-free world could literally be at our fingertips.
But if there’s any lesson to learn from 2019’s successes it’s this: we need to focus our energy. This applies to both the focus on passing anti-fur laws, as well as using activism to single out the companies like Canada Goose who are still torturing and killing animals for fur fashion, like or in the case of Sephora, mink eyelashes.
Towards a Cruelty-Free Planet
But even if we succeeded in outlawing the fur industry tomorrow, please remember one thing: the animals do not care why they are suffering and being killed, they simply want to live. Killing a cow for leather, or a bird for their feathers is equally unnecessary and equally cruel as killing a mink or wild dog for their fur. And killing a cow, pig or chicken for their flesh is not only unnecessary, it is downright destructive to human health, and is a leading factor in developing heart disease, cancer and even erectile dysfunction in men, as was brilliantly profiled in the recent James Cameron documentary, The Game Changers. If you’d like help in transitioning to a plant-based diet you can get free guidance from world-renowned nutritionists and chefs on The Game Changers’ food page here.