Luxury Shift to Fur-Free Fashion
Luxury Shift to Fur-Free Fashion
‘Fur’ as a fashion staple is here to stay, but does it need to be the real is a Debate?
Fur has for long been a trend. From a closet-need for the cold-chills to being a fashionable and luxury piece in the wardrobe, fur has come a long way. It is still a rage today.
All the top-notch designers, whether it is Alexander Wang or Hood By Air, are all experimenting with fur. From New York to Milan, on the catwalk or in the crowd, you find every fashion enthusiast wearing the animal pelt. Despite the efforts by several animal conservationist organisations like PETA and Humane Society, real fur trend made its way back in 2015, with over 400 designers showcasing collections with fur being an essential part. In fact, 73 per cent of the 436 shows in New York, Paris, Milan, and London had fur this year. From striped fur stoles to inertia face-printed coats, whether real or faux fur, the designers are looking at an ever-growing trend.
While this bellowing trend emerges loud and clear in the Fall 2016 fashion trend, it has become somewhat difficult to not pay heed to the increasing voice of the movement against animal cruelty.
Recently, some big names in fashion from the quintessential designers to high-end retailers joined the fur-free movement giving it a new twist and momentum.
Lifestyle Shift to Faux Choice
In a world where we are becoming more conscious about the origins of the food we eat or the make-up we use, thanks to organizations like PETA and Humane Society, issues like animal cruelty are fast becoming a major concern. The animal and fashion-conscious people are exploring ways to overcome their need for luxury and fashion without the use of fur, without the cruelty. When it comes to eating habits, vegetarianism and veganism are in these days. An average of 12 per cent consumers in the six major EU countries already buy animal-free products. Naturally then, the demand will shift to luxurious faux-fur or fur-free coats from real fur ones.
Designers & Retailers Shift To Fur-Free
In 1994, Calvin Klein shifted to being fur-free, Ralph Lauren took the plunge in 2006, and Tommy Hilfiger followed in 2007. Then there’s British label Shrimps. Launched in 2013 by Hannah Weiland, Shrimps had until fall 2015, been using 100 per cent colourful fake fur, many of them in bright colours with three stripes. The most impactful conversion has been that of luxury designer Giorgio Armani, who in March 2016 took an ethical lead by announcing its commitment to go Fur-Free for his upcoming collection and his intent comes from ‘more technological progress’ in the faux-fur industry.
Earlier, Hugo Boss adopted the 100 per cent fur-free policy in January 2015, with intent to “inspire the present generation and especially the next generation with a new kind of luxury”, one that promotes humane alternatives or what Hugo Boss calls “friendly fur”, made without animals. The collection is to be showcased during Fall/Winter 2016.
All-time vegetarian designer Stella McCartney, who sent fuzzy vests, coats and hats, with patches labeled ‘Fur-Free Fur’ down her pre-fall 2015 runway, created quite a buzz. The brand uses no leather, fur or exotic skins in any of its products. While McCartney’s collection highlights ‘luxury can be fake yet fashionable’, she substituted fur for 100 per cent modacrylic (a synthetic co-polymer) in her show that gained traction as a high-quality and convincingly real fur alternative.
Other designers like Dries Van Noten sent out a similar message in faux-fur collection. He pointed out that the silk viscose fake fur he used for his fall collection turned out to be “nearly more expensive” than the real fox and rabbit fur.
The fur-free trend has been an uptick in the high-end retail market as well. The retailers who have turned fur-free include Topshop, H&M, Mango, Marks & Spencer and River Island, and department stores include House of Fraser, Liberty and Selfridges. The Humane Society’s list of brands and retailers falling under fur-free retailing include some of the big labels of the day — American Apparel, Calvin Klein, ASOS, Uniqlo, Eddie Bauer, Urban Outfitter, Free People, J Crew, Tibi, Zara and Rebecca Taylor.
Fashion Realism: Faux As Real As Fur
The solution to fur-free fashion is faux fur, the alternative that is keeping pace with the real fur! Advances in material technology have seen a boom in the use of fake fur among mass market retailers and luxury brands alike. There are designers who embrace environment- and animal-friendly materials and advances in fabric and fibre technologies, even while making the most out of metal, cotton, cork and synthetics. One of the reasons why Armani wished to shift fur-free was the technology progresses made in the area of Faux-Fur production. With innovations they are producing more fashionable, sustainable and humane alternatives and fur and angora look ever more archaic and unnecessary.
While designers like McCartney and Hannah Weiland stick to the ethical issues, there are designers who joined the fur-free alliances not because of animal-issues but because of their fondness with imitated fabric. The early attempts at imitation of fur were made using hair from the alpaca, a South American mammal and they were considered of low quality, typically coloured gray or tan, and could not compare to exquisite furs like mink or beaver from a fashion standpoint. But, the new and reformed, nearly indistinguishable faux furs, made from natural fibres, are fast taking over the place of real fur in the recent times.
Again, one of the popular reasons to include faux-fur in one’s collections or wardrobes is its aesthetics. It provides incredible colour and volume, which will not be possible with real fur. The new softer, indistinguishable faux-fur is easy to work with; its playful and flexible aesthetic has inspired more designers. From Hussein Chalayan, Julie de Libran for Sonia by Sonia Rykiel to Kate Spade, faux fur has been making frequent appearances for the upcoming fall season. (Even Kesha started a faux fur line a few years back.)