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Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Fashion's Shame

In its September issue British Vogue reported that nearly 70% of designers incorporated fur pieces with their Autumn collections, yet in the early 90's the editor of American Vogue had a dead raccoon dumped on her plate in a New York restaurant for refusing to give up wearing mink. So is the wearing of fur back to stay?

According to the RSPCA over 95% of people in the UK would still refuse to wear real fur, so what makes some people, including young British designers like Christopher Kane, think it's ok to wear the coat of an animal farmed in such barbaric conditions?

There are probably two answers: the first is "I don't care", the second people who are ignorant of the production methods.

Kate Moss would seem to be a good example of the first group. Despite her friend Sadie Frost recently launching a high profile anti-fur campaign, Moss was recently seen draped in fox furs. Her response "I don't care what Sadie thinks. She has her own mind and I have mine. I wear what I want to wear."

People with this amoral attitude are already lost to humanity. Any education will fall on deaf ears (or at least the void between those ears).

The second group can be reached by positive messages which get the point across without the "turn off" factor of gruesome pictures. I think people turn away from these, rightly repulsed and revolted, in a nano second and will not re-engage again.

So what can be done? Maybe we will never eliminate the fur requirement of the "elite" in this country, but we can reach out to the majority that may be tempted to use "lower end" fur such as rabbit and chinchilla.

The most effective way to deal with this trade is for CEO's of fashion chains to take an ethical stance and enforce a ban on fur products and wool produced in inhumane conditions and killed in the most painful ways in the way that Top Shop has with the truly barbaric methods employed in China.

The editors of Vogue will never care and will continue to glamorise fur, but CEO's have to appreciate that people increasingly expect companies to take responsibility for their supply chain and to take a stand on moral grounds. You only have to look as far as the coverage of some of the tragic events in Bangladesh, or, in the food industry, the horse meat scandal earlier this year.

Provenance in fashion is now as important as it is in food. When it becomes apparent that CEO's are either not in control, or simply turn a blind eye, people will shop elsewhere. Leaders who ignore the wishes of the customers do so at their peril, a lesson learned by Kurt Geiger several years ago when their stores were picketed by people demanding an end to the use of rabbit fur.

One example to be careful of is faux fur produced in China as they find it easier to use dogs and cats than to produce faux, so check the country of origin.

In 1994 five supermodels posed nude to protest against the wearing of fur. I don't know why the likes of Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss, and Eva Herzigova disagree with this, any more than I understand why Graham Norton would inanely comment "Fur campaigners are so dull. Why don't they just lighten up and find a new topic to bore us about."

What I do believe is that their attitude is to their shame, as it is to the whole of the fashion industry if this recent trend continues.

Written by Erica Vilkauls: Director JEM Retail Consultants.

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