LONDON — Some of Britain’s top designers want the U.K. to become the first country in the world to ban the sale of real fur.
Longtime environmental activists including Stella McCartney, Vivienne Westwood and Katharine Hamnett have joined with Selfridges as well as fellow designers Christopher Raeburn, Erdem Moralioglu, Helen Moore and Shrimps’ Hannah Weiland to address the issue in a letter to U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
The designers highlight their ability to “thrive, without being complicit in the suffering caused by the fur trade” and cite the “dwindling demand” for real fur among U.K. consumers and retailers.
“[We have a] shared belief that fashion, driven by consumers and enabled by innovation, is evolving to make animal fur obsolete, as more and more luxury fashion designers and high street retailers eliminate it from their collections. The majority of U.K. consumers reject animal fur on ethical grounds,” the letter said.
Eliminating real fur from the shop floor should follow the ban on fur farming in the U.K., according to the group, which urged Johnson to follow the state of California, which banned the sales of fur in 2019.
The letter also showed support for the ongoing #FurFreeBritain campaign by Humane Society International, an organization promoting animal rights and urging for a total fur ban.
“If the U.K. were to become the first country to prohibit the sale of animal fur it would surely only enhance its growing reputation as a global hub for innovation in ethical fashion,” added the letter.
The International Fur Federation and British Fur did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The British Fur Trade Association is arguing against the U.K. fur ban. According to the organization, a fur ban would be nearly impossible to enforce and would increase the amount of fur from unregulated sources coming into the country.
“The reality of a U.K. fur ban is that it would punish consumers, legitimate retailers, and those that deal in legal, high-quality sustainable and certified furs whilst putting huge strain on law enforcement,” said the organization in a briefing report titled “How a U.K. Fur Ban Would Damage and Set Back Animal Welfare.”
The report argues that “banning fur in the U.K. would be unenforceable, leaving Border Force trying to monitor and police thousands of parcels and shipments, as they are imported into the U.K. every week. Much of the trade would simply move to unregulated, untaxed online sources, including those operated by criminal elements.”
Claire Bass, the executive director of Humane Society International UK, applauded the designers’ move and said it’s a question of “having [your] finger on the pulse.”
“These designers refuse to put cruelty on the catwalk because they know there is nothing glamorous about mentally deprived foxes, electrocuted raccoon dogs, COVID-19-infected mink and wild trapped coyotes shot in the head. The vast majority of British consumers reject fur, and as the revolting cruelty of fur is exposed, a global decline in demand for fur fashion has sent this industry into a downward spiral. Killing animals for fashion does not reflect brand Britain, even her Majesty the Queen has stopped buying new fur. So it’s time for our government to consign the fur trade to the history books where it belongs and ban the sale of fur,” added Bass.
The future of the fur industry came under intense scrutiny after a mutation of the COVID-19 virus was detected in Denmark’s mink farms, resulting in the culling of the country’s entire mink population and the closure of major fur businesses, including the world’s largest auction house, Kopenhagen Fur.