LONDON — In a public relations exercise that’s made the anti-fur crowd leap for joy, Burberry has decided to stop using real fur starting with Riccardo Tisci’s first collection and end its practice of destroying unsalable products with immediate effect.
Burberry said the no-fur policy will apply to Tisci’s debut collection for Burberry later this month, and the company plans to phase out existing products. The task shouldn’t take very long, as Burberry has never gone big on fur.
Burberry — along with brands such as Mary Katrantzou and Gareth Pugh — had become a target of anti-fur protesters during London Fashion Week over the past year, but the reality is that fur is currently confined to trims on Burberry’s outerwear.
On Thursday, Burberry reiterated that its use of fur had been restricted for many years to rabbit, fox, mink and Asiatic raccoon. Going forward those materials, as well as Angora, will be banned.
A spokesman confirmed that the company would continue to use shearling.
“Modern luxury means being socially and environmentally responsible,” said Marco Gobbetti, Burberry’s chief executive officer. “This belief is core to us at Burberry and key to our long-term success. We are committed to applying the same creativity to all parts of Burberry as we do to our products.”
Unsurprisingly, anti-fur protesters were jumping with joy.
PETA issued a statement that “cartwheels are happening at HQ following the announcement that the iconic British brand has joined Armani, Versace, Gucci, Ralph Lauren, Vivienne Westwood and Stella McCartney in banning fur from its collections.”
PETA director of international programs, Mimi Bekhechi, said the decision is “a sign of the times. If [fashion houses] want to stay relevant in a changing industry, they have no choice but to stop using fur stolen from animals for their coats, collars and cuffs.”
In the past few months, the company also became the target of criticism in the British press for its decision to destroy new, but unsalable, merchandise each year.
With regard to the unsalable merchandise, Burberry came under fire at its latest annual general meeting in July for its practice of destroying unsalable clothing.
Burberry and other luxury brands have long been fearful of unsold or unusable merchandise leaking into the gray market or into the hands of counterfeiters, hence the practice of burning clothing. Shareholders at the meeting asked why they couldn’t just buy the clothing at discounted rates.
Burberry said its decision to cease destruction builds on the goals it set last year as part of its five-year responsibility agenda and its commitment to help tackle the causes of waste.
“We already reuse, repair, donate or recycle unsalable products and we will continue to expand these efforts,” the company said on Thursday. A spokesman clarified that burning clothing was a last resort for Burberry, which has sought to recycle the energy generated from the process.
As reported, Burberry has also inked a deal with the accessories company Elvis & Kresse to transform 120 tons of leather offcuts into new products over the next five years.
Fondazione Burberry, a charity, has established the Burberry Material Futures Research Group with the Royal College of Art to invent new sustainable materials, and is looking at ways of developing a more inclusive and sustainable cashmere industry in Afghanistan.
The efforts have been recognized by Burberry’s inclusion in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for the third consecutive year.