Let me preface this article by saying that I’m by no means a fur advocate. Nor do I particularly look for cruelty-free options. Personally, when it comes to fashion, I’m struck by design and aesthetics, and the belief that it’ll last. If it happens to be ethically made, that’s great. But if not, I don’t mull over it because interestingly designed pieces with a somewhat non-ethical past are in the majority. And when I like something I see, no other alternative—ethical or not—will change that.
Fur doesn’t really translate well in Singapore. But if you’re like me and have never felt anything remotely close to the moment you’ve slipped into a pair of Gucci’s fur-lined mules, fur on your feet makes (some) sense. And let me tell you first-hand that I’ve never felt such comfort on my feet ever. Imagine being supported by tiny hamsters with every step you make; terribly unethical in reality but that’s just how good they feel.
Then in October 2017, Gucci announced that they’re stopping the use of fur in its designs. I panicked. Not only because I’d lose potential iterations of my favourite pair of mules, but also because under Alessandro Michele, fur has been quite integral to his style vocabulary for Gucci. After all, the kangaroo fur-lined mules was one of the key styles that reinvigorated the fashion house the moment they were shown on the runway back in 2015, and has since seen various permutations season after season, including a full-on Cousin Itt replica.
Fur was also used to convey a strong sense of luxe sensuality. They were delicate and soft, and mirrored the idea of a Gucci man whose masculinity is unconventional and constantly being redefined. It's a risky move after such a successful new vision. But the conviction behind it—how Gucci doesn't consider the use of fur as being modern—is respectable.
Gucci was not the first in the industry nor has it been the last to stop using fur. Calvin Klein has gone fur-free since 1994 while Stella McCartney’s entire raison d’être is its vegan and anti-cruelty stance since its founding in 2001. American brands Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger stopped producing fur products in 2006 and 2007 respectively. The trend sparked again in 2016 with Armani leading the charge followed by Michael Kors in 2017, shortly after Gucci’s announcement. Most recently, Versace has followed suit, with Donatella Versace having quoted as saying, “Fur? I am out of that. I don’t want to kill animals to make fashion. It doesn’t feel right.” It’s a bold (and ironic) statement to make since Versace still does carry other animal-killing products (read: leather), but at least that’s one checkbox PETA can tick off.
No matter how great they feel or how comfortable they are, the use of fur comes with obvious ethical questions. And there’s never been a good enough reason to defend its use in fashion too. Modern technology has paved the way for faux fur to be an alternative but, even then, their synthetic composition has posed other environmental concerns. As faux furs are generally made using petroleum-based polymers, they are not biodegradable and will live longer than generations of minks; not exactly great for a planet that’s already facing severe waste-related issues. There is simply no clear-cut solution to this yet.
"Luxury does not mean landfill—it means forever.”
– Stella McCartney
The responsibility then is on us, as consumers, to be especially aware when purchasing faux fur items too. Stella McCartney, strong believer on ‘Fur-Free-Fur’, acknowledges its non-biodegradability: “We therefore encourage customers to care for their items and be responsible with their garments, never throwing them away. Luxury does not mean landfill—it means forever.” It's much like applying that same sense of pet-owner responsibility; if you can’t commit, don’t buy it.
Is this another fashion trend? Probably not. There is no turning back once a brand has announced a move towards a more ethical production. One can’t simply decide to change for the better when it’s convenient or “trendy”, only to fall back on old habits down the line.
Every single decision we make is a symbol of our passion in defining what the future of fashion looks like. 85% of the fur industry’s skins come from animals living in captivity in fur factory farms but as a modern, conscious brand we believe that fashion can be luxurious without using leather or fur. This is why we have pioneered the use of cruelty-free alternatives; from #FurFreeFur to alter-nappa, a leather alternative. Today we're thrilled to share with you the new World of Sustainability; a platform entirely dedicated to telling you all about our sustainable practices and our journey to operating as a modern and responsible business. Enter the World of Sustainability and watch the film shot by contemporary photographer Viviane Sassen (@vivianesassenstudio) – discover via the link in our bio! . #StellaMcCartney #StellaCares #StellasWorld #SkinFreeSkin
Going fur-free is a bandwagon that many fashion houses would be foolish not to jump on. Fur has been around since the earliest days of humanity and we’ve come a long way since then to not have already secured a more modern alternative that looks and feels just as real fur does. While there are continuing efforts aimed at more sustainable and ethical fur alternatives, the reality is that until the majority gets on board, it’ll take a long while before it becomes the norm. Fashion brands unite in beating down heavily on knock-offs. Yet, ironically, faux fur might just be that one knock-off worth more than the original in the bigger scheme of things.