Backstage at Prada Men's Fall 2019

MILAN — Prada Group said Wednesday it will no longer use animal fur in its designs or new products, starting from the spring 2020 women’s collections.

Creative director Miuccia Prada explained that the company “is committed to innovation and social responsibility,” and that its fur-free policy “is an extension of that engagement.”

The decision indicated the decision may fuel her creativity. “Focusing on innovative materials will allow the company to explore new boundaries of creative design while meeting the demand for ethical products,” she said.

In an additional sustainable move, rather than burning the existing fur products, Prada said “the inventory will be sold until quantities will be exhausted.”

Prada also revealed that the decision was made in collaboration with the Fur Free Alliance, a coalition of more than 50 animal protection organizations from more than 40 countries, and “follows positive dialogue” with FFA members; LAV, which advocates for animal rights, and animal protection organization The Humane Society of the U.S.

“The Fur Free Alliance applauds the Prada Group for going fur-free,” said the organization’s chairman Joh Vinding. The Italian luxury group, he underscored, “now joins a growing list of fur-free brands that are responding to consumers’ changing attitudes towards animals.”

Prada is the latest luxury brand to opt for fur-free fashion after the likes of Gucci, Versace, Michael Kors, Giorgio Armani, Jimmy Choo, Diane von Furstenberg, Donna Karan, Chanel, Tommy Hilfiger, Phillip Lim, Vivienne Westwood and Burberry. California’s lawmakers are contemplating a proposed ban on the sale and production of new fur products, while the New York City Council is considering a similar measure to ban the sale of new fur and shearling. Los Angeles voted in March  to ban new fur products in the city.

Earlier last year, San Francisco also banned the sale of fur, and other California cities including West Hollywood and Berkeley have done the same. Last year, London Fashion Week announced it would go fur-free starting with the spring 2019 season. Stella McCartney, along with Betsey Johnson, Guess, Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger, are all longtime advocates of faux fur. Meanwhile, fur advocates insist that natural fur is more sustainable whereas fake fur is not.

Simone Pavesi, manager of the Animal Free Fashion Area for LAV, said Prada’s decision “is consistent with the new concept of ethical luxury and meets the expectations of new consumers who are more careful in choosing sustainable products that respect the environment and animals.”

PJ Smith, director of fashion policy at The Humane Society of the U.S., said “one of the biggest names in fashion just became a leader in animal welfare and innovation for generations to come.”

“Prada Group was one of the fastest companies to go fur-free once positive dialogue began a little more than a year ago,” said Brigit Oele, program manager for Fur Free Alliance. “The Fur Free Retailer Program includes 1,000 companies, showing that this global movement is gaining momentum fast, and it’s very unlikely that fur will ever return as an acceptable trend. This is a great day for animals.”

Last year, animal rights supporters spearheaded by the Fur Free Alliance, a group of 40 animal-protection organizations from 30-plus countries, targeted the Prada Group in an international campaign, and in September, the company responded by highlighting its “gradual and concrete reduction” of fur products, playing up its use of man-made fibers such as nylon, and expressing its intention to open a dialogue with animal activists associations. Nylon, Prada said at the time, is “part of a wider group strategy aimed at reducing the environmental impact of its production; indeed, a program for the provision of nylon made with recycled yarns is being finalized with suppliers.”

Earlier this month, a few dozen anti-fur protesters stationed themselves outside Prada’s cruise show in New York, hoisting banners and shouting slogans as guests entered the venue, its American headquarters.

“I am surprised that a brand [that cares] about sustainability is banning a natural product like fur,” said International Fur Federation chief executive officer Mark Oaten, reacting to Prada’s announcement on Wednesday. “Now Prada customers will only have plastic fur as an option, which is bad for the planet. I urge Prada to think again and trust its own consumers to decide if they want to buy real or fake fur.”

Conversely, PETA senior vice president Dan Mathews praised Prada’s decision to ban fur, but at the same time it “urge[d] the brand to follow in Chanel’s compassionate footsteps” by also removing “exotic skins — including crocodile, lizard and snake skins” going forward.

In April, Miuccia Prada told WWD of the fur debate: “This subject would need very lengthy discussion. And once you approach fur, you should possibly approach the larger issue of sustainability and environment and maybe much more, all issues that our company is committed to. I have always preferred doing, acting, instead of making announcements: We are researching and analyzing the possibilities very seriously, and I have stopped showing fur on the catwalk. The subject is serious and has to be addressed, but let’s not forget it’s a small part of a much bigger picture that needs the same attention.”

Last November, Prada held the second “Shaping a Future” event in Milan, further exploring the theme of sustainability, once again in a partnership with The Schools of Management of Politecnico di Milano and the Yale Center for Customer Insights. Miuccia Prada and her husband Patrizio Bertelli, who share the ceo title, have been vocal about research into more ecological materials and investing in sustainable industrial complexes surrounded by greenery and vineyards. Last year, Bertelli inaugurated an industrial complex in Tuscany’s Valvigna surrounded by a system of lightweight trellises covered in grape vines and mulberries, pomegranates and jujubes, beds of lavender, 33 trees, 29,000 bushes and 8,700 climbing plants.

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