An image from the IFF's new video about sustainability.

At a time when major labels like Gucci, Michael Kors, Jimmy Choo and Diane von Furstenberg have pledged to go fur-free, the International Fur Federation is trying to tout the sustainability of real fur with a new video.

The global organization represents every element of the supply chain — farmers, trappers, manufacturers, dressers, dyers and retailers among them. As for why the group decided to play up this angle now, IFF’s vice president of the Americas, Nancy Daigneault said, “There is a lot of misinformation out there about the sustainability of real fur. The general public seems to believe that fake fur is more sustainable. If you look at some of the different things that have happened in the last year, there are some designers that are choosing to go the fake fur route rather than real fur.”

“We believe that real fur is much more sustainable than fake fur and it’s more environmentally friendly. Fake fur is made from petrochemicals. It’s not a sustainable option in the long term,” she said.

The 94-second clip claims that fake fur is made in factories with chemicals derived from fossil fuels, and fake fur is made with nylon and polyester, “the main culprits for emissions of microfibers.” IFF plans to use the short video at such fashion events as Première Vision in Paris and Chic in Shanghai. In addition to posting it on IFF’s site and social media channels, a media buy is in the works for social media.

Aiming to create “a good, real discussion about sustainability and real fur,” Daigneault noted. “IFF research in recent years has certainly indicated that the general population is not aware of the sustainability of real fur and how we deal with real fur. A lot of people aren’t aware of how sustainable wild fur is and how governments regulate and monitor harvest levels. We feel it’s incumbent upon us as an industry to get that message out there so that people understand that real fur is a very environmentally friendly and sustainable option.”

Noting how only the surplus from wild fur trapping is used and is always done in accordance with international standards and ISO standards, Daigneault said, “If we didn’t use the fur in trapping, it would still be out there. For instance, the whooping crane would be extinct if we didn’t try to manage the population. Foxes and coyotes are abundant in certain areas in North America, so governments do their best to manage populations and harvest levels. They want to protect certain species that are going to be extinct if we don’t trap the animals that are preying on them.”

She said farm fur, which she said is primarily mink and fox, is also a very sustainable industry. “The circular economy is the big buzz word out there and farmed fur is very much an example of that. The way it works is that mink and fox are fed leftovers from waste from the agricultural chain,” giving the example of how mink farmers take such unused parts from the poultry industry as chicken necks and hearts, mix it with cereal and water and feed it to the mink and fox. “So there is a lot of waste that would otherwise go into landfills. The manure is used as very rich fertilizer for agricultural crops. All of the animal is used, the fur is used in the fur trade, the oils from mink is used in the leather industry and also in the cosmetics industry. The mink is used in the fishing industry as lure or as biodiesel. So the whole animal is used and the carcass is then composted and the compost is reused.

Not surprisingly, Dan Mathews, senior vice president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, challenged the IFF’s sustainability claim. “The tanneries use all these chemicals and then they have to dispose of all the chemical waste. It’s one of the reasons why tanneries are in really impoverished areas where people really don’t care about the environment. They’re in India, a lot of them are done in China where there are not such strict regulations on these things. They make a huge horrible impact on local waterways because they dispose of these chemicals. And they often are improperly disposed of.”

“You don’t to have any of these chemicals when it’s a synthetic or a non animal skin fabric. If it’s natural fibers like cotton, linen even things like viscose, there is no tanning procedure because it’s not dead. It’s just like embalming in a sense,” Matthews said.

PETA plans to unveil its latest celebrity-supported ad campaign – a 70-foot billboard in midtown Manhattan – during New York Fashion Week. Mathews said he recently sent Tom Ford a congratulatory note for switching to a vegan diet. The animal rights group has appealed to the designer to stop using fur several times over the years.