Fashion goes fur free: is France falling behind the times?

Faced with increasing opposition to fur from the general public, more
and more brands are withdrawing it from their collections, the most recent
of these being Olivier Rousteing, artistic director at Balmain, who
announced the brand was scrapping the animal product. But has France fallen
behind its European neighbours on the subject?

According to a survey carried out in February 2019 by European research
firm IFOP (Institut français d’opinion publique), 91 percent of French
people said they were against selling fur. While fur it is still considered
by many as being warm, luxurious and one of the most durable materials on
earth, on the catwalk the question appears to be reaching a point of
no-return with the withdrawal of fur from increasingly more collections.

The non-fur movement in the fashion industry

In particular, this new commitment for the fashion world echoes the
increasing opposition by the general public to fur and to the cruel
practices from which it often comes: the capture and gassing, electrocution
or clubbing to death of animals on breeding farms. Some animals are also
killed using metal clamp traps – a method that Canada Goose has been
accused of using to trap coyotes for their fur used to embellish the
collars of the parka coats of the Canada Goose brand. Many animals killed
in this way day slowly of blood loss.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) of the United States recently told
the association People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) in the
United States that, further to a complaint by the association relating to
the advertising practices of Canada Goose, the latter had ceased to claim
that its standards “ensure” that its suppliers do not mistreat the animals.
At the heart of the design process, traceability is in fact not always

Shocking images and videos, petitions, demonstrations by PETA, have been
like electric shocks that for around three years have created a tidal wave
movement in favour of the protection of animals in the fashion industry. As
a result, Burberry, Chanel, Gucci, Versace, Maison Margela, Giorgio Armani
among others, have all stated that they have stopped using fur.

Fashion goes fur free: is France falling behind the times?

A further addition to this long list is Olivier Rousteing, artistic
director of Balmain, who recently announced in Vogue that the brand had put
an end to the use of animal fur in its collections. “I took this decision
about eighteen months ago. I had seen so many documentaries and reached a
point at which I could no longer pretend that I did not know,” Rousteing
said in a statement. “Now, suppliers are trying to ensure that false fur
resembles real fur, and it’s crazy what they can create.”

French brands struggle to give up fur

In France, however, there are still very few big luxury brands that have
taken a position on the subject. Synonymous with luxury, know-how and
craftsmanship, in Paris fur still had a strong presence on catwalks in the
Autumn-Winter 2019 collections. The following brands used fur:

Dior, Guy Laroche, Hermès, Isabel Marant, Lanvin, Leonard Paris, Louis
Vuitton and Saint Laurent (according to the list released by the Centre
National d’Information sur la Fourrure, the National Centre for Information
on Fur).

With regard to animals being bred for their fur, no real figures seem to
be available. “In France, there are a dozen mink-breeding farms as well as
25 rabbit fur breeding farms,” said PETA France. According to the Fourrure
Française (French fur) website, certain furs, such as rabbit or lamb, come
directly from animals that are consumed for their meat.

The powerful voice of French luxury fashion

Aimed at the luxury industry and supported by high fashion houses in
France, the French fur sector is still important and has earned “300
million euros in revenue, a figure that remains stable,” according to
Pierre-Philippe Frieh, spokesman for the Fédération Française des Métiers
de la Fourrure (FFMF, French Federation for the Fur Profession), contacted
by in April 2019. “Exports alone represent 100 million euros, a
figure that has been constantly increasing for 5 years,” he added. Although
France is not a large producer of fur in the global scene, it nevertheless
remains a leading light in the luxury world.

And what if the country, following the example of Austria, Belgium,
Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, the Republic of
Macedonia, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Serbia and Slovenia, ended the
production of fur? The message to the fashion world would certainly have an

There still remains the matter of false fur. Is it a sustainable
alternative? Produced from petrochemicals, it is still a big pollutant and
is already posing some serious problems relating to biodegradability. And
what if the wearing of fur in any form whatsoever was simply banned?

This article was originally published on FashionUnited.FR.
Translated and edited by Huw Hughes.

Photos: Lanvin Silhouette, AH Collection 2019 (website) –
“Wearefur” communication campaign, Fur Now 2019.


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