WASHINGTON -- Cosmetics executives are breathing easier these days as the spotlight on animal rights has turned from laboratory testing to fur.
But activists with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals say the lull is only temporary. Winter is the peak time for fur protests, they noted, citing the recent occupations of the New York headquarters of Vogue magazine and Calvin Klein.
And more significantly, PETA is locked in quiet negotiations with a number of companies that may be rethinking their testing policies since Paris-based cosmetics giant L'OrÄal agreed to an animal test ban in October.
"We're using the victory of L'Oreal to pressure the other companies who still do animal testing to stop," said Dan Mathews, PETA's director of international campaigns. "Companies have open ears now, I think."
Mathews would not identify any of the wavering companies, saying, "It wouldn't be fair."
Just as PETA refuses to let up the pressure, the Cosmetic Toiletry and Fragrance Association, which has fought the animal rights activists every step of the way, is keeping up the counteroffensive.
The industry group plans to continue challenging PETA's test-ban drive on the legislative front, said Michael Petrina, vice president for legislative relations. "The important thing is, if any single state were to pass a bill, it would set a very bad precedent for other states."
After years of conflict, the battle lines remain in place. Petrina noted that there is little point in talk at this stage. CTFA does not plan to meet with PETA members or otherwise try to resolve differences, he said, adding,"I'm not sure there's anything we can say that would change their minds."
L'Oreal is the latest of five well-known major companies to abandon animal testing. The others are Avon, Revlon, Benetton and EstÄe Lauder, according to Debbi Liebergot, international campaigns coordinator.
Lauder was never targeted specifically with a PETA campaign, but the company scrapped animal testing. Benetton sees its decision to stop animal testing as a "partnership" in support of PETA and a commitment to setting more compassionate test standards.
L'Oreal abandoned animal testing after four years of letter-writing, demonstrations and advertisements aimed at the company.Mathews said PETA receives letters every week from companies affirming that they do not sell products tested on animals and never will. These companies are added to a list of more than 500 that PETA publicizes in its annual "Shopping Guide for Caring Consumers," a 118-page volume that includes ads and coupons for "cruelty-free" products.
And for those companies that refuse to give in? "We have a lot of surprises up our sleeve," Mathews said.
With L'Oreal out of the way, Boston-based Gillette Co. moves to the top of PETA's hit list. The group, in fact, is printing up reams of campaign literature focusing on Gillette, which will replace the obsolete anti-L'Oreal brochures, Liebergot said. Gillette, a PETA target for about seven years, has no intention of giving in, a company spokeswoman said. Despite letter-writing campaigns, staged dumpings of Gillette products and three attempts to introduce anti-animal testing shareholder resolutions, "the position has not changed, which is we do what we are obliged to do morally and legally," she said.
Gillette only conducts animal testing that is necessary to assure that products are safe for consumers, she added.
"Everybody in this industry is working to eliminate testing on laboratory animals, but there's no federal agency that will let us do that," the Gillette spokeswoman said.
Even agencies that do not specifically require animal testing mandate that adequate testing be done, and sometimes it is necessary to use laboratory animals to meet this standard, she said.
The Gillette spokeswoman also noted that her company markets a very broad range of products, from cosmetics to antiperspirant to liquid paper, so it is more difficult for Gillette to avoid animal testing than for most other companies.
PETA's Liebergot countered, "There's no reason to torture another animal for some new shade of lipstick."
PETA's clout, or at least its visibility, appears to be growing. The organization, which recently opened offices in England and Germany, claims 400,000 members.
In addition, animal-rights activists in countries from South Africa to France have requested PETA's assistance in launching movements in their respective locales, Liebergot said.
The organization also is getting attention from outspoken, high-profile members such as singers k.d. lang and Paul McCartney, and actors Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger (whose sultry countenance graces the cover of the 1994 shopping guide).Four top fashion models, including Naomi Campbell, staged a photo opportunity in early January in Paris wearing only a PETA banner stating "I'd rather go naked than wear fur."
In December, nude activists decked in a similar banner blocked traffic during rush hour on a Washington, D.C., bridge.
When it comes to a company's bottom line, however, PETA's impact is less obvious. Gillette, for example, recently announced a 25 percent quarterly earnings increase, and the company's sales have risen steadily throughout the PETA campaign, the spokeswoman said.
Animal-rights activists also are failing to make even a ripple in Congress this session. The Doris Day Animal League, the movement's lobbying arm, has failed to get a sponsor for its Consumer Product Safe Testing Act, which has been introduced to no avail for the previous six years.
The bill would require all federal agencies to evaluate their regulations and "switch to non-animal methods if they can't justify testing on animals, which they can't," said Holly Hazard, the Doris Day group's legislative director.
Hazard said finding a sponsor has been difficult because Democrats are preoccupied with health care, welfare reform and the other top issues of the day.
Still, one-quarter of the House of Representatives signed the bill in 1990, she noted.
EXCLUSIVE: @tomford is opening its first-ever beauty store. The boutique, which opens November 20 in London’s Covent Gardens, was designed with the over-the-top glam Ford is known for. Read the full story on WWD.com, link in bio. #wwdbeauty #wwdnews (📷: Simon Wagner) #TomFordBeauty
New York-based DJ @harleyvnewton threw a party to celebrate the holiday collection of her dress and pajama line @hvn at the Ladurée Beverly Hills. It Girls @katebosworth, @rashidajones and more joined in on the fun, which included cocktails, croque monsieur sandwiches and a photo booth. #wwdfashion (📷: Owen Kolasinski/BFA.com)
For the holidays, @Burberry partnered with 20-year-old artist @blondeymccoy on a series of three outdoor murals in downtown Manhattan. The murals are McCoy’s interpretation of a Christmas eve party, the idea of charity and the spirit of family. His third mural, pictured here, is the most personal. The image depicts McCoy’s grandparents and father in London’s Trafalgar Square in the Seventies. “My work often features lots of sentimental objects.” #wwdeye
For spring 2018, designers applied bold colors and cartoonish motifs on everything from sneakers and belts to key chains. See all the top men’s accessories trends on WWD.com. #wwdtrends (📷: George Chinsee; Prop Styling by @rnasti; Market Editor: @luiscampuzano)
The @dior-sponsored @guggenheim international gala pre-party has a history of drawing cool-girl musical acts to serenade the crowd –– and last night was no exception. @haimtheband performed songs both new and old, and lured a star-studded audience with the likes of Rebecca Hall, Kate Mara, Mamoudou Athie and more. #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)
In a partnership between the @metopera and the @englishnationalopera, “Marnie” was born. The opera, with costumes sponsored by @mrporterlive, is an adaptation of the 1961 thriller by Winston Graham. Arianne Phillips, who created the costumes, is no rookie: She’s styled Madonna for her tours and created costumes for a myriad of films in the past. Read WWD’s interview with Phillips, where she talks about her inspiration for the opera’s costumes on WWD.com #wwdfashion
@barneysnyc took a different approach to their holiday windows this year. Instead of Christmas decor, Barneys tapped @thehaasbrothers to tell a story of positivity, gratitude and inclusivity via heartwarming silliness and humor. “It’s about kids and it’s about coming together and being family and loving each other,” said Simon Haas. #wwdfashion (📷: @joshuascottphoto)
Beauty influencer @kandeejohnson makes her foray into hair care with a collaboration with @ogx_beauty — making it the first time that OGX has teamed up for a product creation. The collab includes shampoos and conditioners in three scents. At 39 and a mom, Johnson is a different profile than the emerging social media stars, but is considered one of the pioneers of the digital beauty influencer world. Read WWD’s interview with her on wwd.com, including the strangest beauty product she’s ever tried #wwdbeauty