When models strut down the runways during London Fashion Week, sporting the latest looks dreamed up by British designers, one classic element will be notably absent. Embracing the industry’s growing trend of cruelty-free and environmentally responsible material sourcing, the British Fashion Council (BFC) has decided to make the event fur-free for the first time.
None of the other "Big Four" Fashion Weeks – New York, Milan, and Paris – have ever implemented such a policy.
“Today, the British Fashion Council (BFC) announces that following a survey conducted with all London Fashion Week designers on the official catwalk and presentation schedule, no animal fur will be used at London Fashion Week September 2018,” an official statement reads.
“The BFC survey results reflect a cultural change based on ideals and choices made by designer businesses, international brands as well as consumer sentiment but also encouraged by the stance of multi-brand stores who are moving away from selling fur.”
According to the Guardian and Vogue, Burberry, Stella McCartney, Gucci, Versace, Vivienne Westwood, Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, Giorgio Armani, Ralph Lauren, the online luxury fashion shops Yoox and Net-A-Porter, and the online high-street fashion company ASOS are leaders among a wave of major houses/retailers who have made zero-fur pledges.
Fur farming was banned in the UK in 2000 after a group of government officials successfully argued that inhumane practice was incompatible with “public morality”. The law went into full effect in 2003, but importing fur from animals raised elsewhere is still legal. However, this may soon change.
Earlier this summer, a petition to completely ban fur signed by 400,000 residents was presented to Parliament alongside a letter written by celebrity fashion designer Stella McCartney, daughter of famous animal rights activist Linda McCartney. Around the same time, a report by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee confirmed that the troubling practice of clothing and accessories retailers selling real fur products under faux-fur labels has become widespread.
Per the Independent, this intentional mislabeling occurs because actual fur is now often cheaper than synthetically made fur, thanks to an excess that has flooded the market from Chinese farms.
As promising as these steps may be, it is important to keep in mind that “animal-free doesn’t automatically mean guilt-free,” as Rachel Stott, the senior creative researcher at marketing and strategy firm The Future Laboratory, told the Guardian.
“[Animal-free alternatives] can give rise to low-value synthetic alternatives [which] harbors its own environmental and ethical issues,” she said. “The manufacturing processes used to create these involve toxic chemicals and cause pollution in surrounding rivers and landfill sites.
“Currently there is currently no safe way to produce or dispose of PVC products, therefore consumers can be misled into thinking ‘vegan’ is entirely environmentally friendly."