In a move aimed at ensuring “high ethical standards,” Tommy Hilfiger Corp. is going fur-free by using only faux fur.

The firm said it will “discontinue the use of fur in apparel company-wide. Starting immediately, the company will cease development of any product containing fur, and any fur garment already in production will be phased out of sales channels by the delivery of the spring 2008 collection.”

Fred Gehring, chief executive officer of Tommy Hilfiger Corp., said in a statement that “although fur has never really been central to our design philosophy, there is always the risk that the process for such sourced materials, no matter how limited the output, can fall short of guidelines in spite of applying the highest levels of diligence and control.”

Gehring said to rule out “this risk and guarantee our products live up to the integrity we promise our customers, we have decided to switch to a faux fur policy entirely.”

The company said fur garments represents less than 0.25 percent of its global sales, and were “manufactured according to the company’s strict guidelines for humane animal treatment.”

“Beginning with the spring 2008 collection, the company will use only faux fur to ensure these standards are achieved and maintained,” the company said in the statement.

Ironically, Tommy Hilfiger is going fur-free at a time when there was a prevalence of furs on the runways. In the recent round of fashion shows, many designers chose to boldly feature furs in their outerwear, as well as fashion-oriented pieces such as shrugs, stoles and accessories.

In a phone interview, Gehring told WWD that it even though the company’s use of fur has been limited, Tommy Hilfiger Corp. wants to be “100 percent sure” that its fur sourcing is up to the highest standard, and to achieve that standard required using only faux fur. “We are not so much taking a principle stand by doing this,” Gehring said. “We just want to apply a high level of integrity in our business.”

A spokeswoman for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals claimed after the New York shows that firms such as Polo Ralph Lauren, Ann Taylor, Jones Apparel Group, Limited Brands and Kenneth Cole were not using fur. In Europe, Stella McCartney, Vivienne Westwood, Comme des Garçons and Katharine Hamnett are several of the designer labels with fur-free policies, according to PETA. Calvin Klein also went fur-free as of this spring.

This story first appeared in the March 12, 2007 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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