A pioneer in sustainability and animal welfare, French luxury group Kering said Friday that all of its brands are to stop using animal fur, effective with the fall 2022 collections that are to be presented early next year.
Most of Kering’s fashion brands have halted the use of fur, starting with Gucci in 2017. Balenciaga, Bottega Veneta and Alexander McQueen also stopped using fur in recent years without announcing anything officially.
It is understood Saint Laurent and Brioni are the only remaining brands to have occasionally used animal fur.
“For many years, Kering has sought to take the lead in sustainability, guided by a vision of luxury that is inseparable from the very highest environmental and social values and standards,” François-Henri Pinault, chairman and chief executive office of Kering, said in a statement. “When it comes to animal welfare, our group has always demonstrated its willingness to improve practices within its own supply chain and the luxury sector in general.
“The time has now come to take a further step forward by ending the use of fur in all our collections,” he added. “The world has changed, along with our clients, and luxury naturally needs to adapt to that,” he added.
It is understood the policy will apply to any fashion or accessory brand Kering might acquire in the future.
In an interview with WWD, Pinault said it was a multiyear process to reach this point.
“I told all the brands that it was something to be planned with the artistic director and the CEO,” he said. “It took us a little more than three years.”
Fur is intrinsic to the DNA and aesthetics of some fashion brands more than others, and the weaning was done gradually so as not to be too burdensome on the supply chain, he noted.
Asked how much business was at stake in stopping fur, Pinault said: “It was not a big number. In terms of image and perception, it was an important change,” given that fur is synonymous with luxury in the minds of some consumers.
The luxury titan described the group-wide fur ban in the context of a long journey to greater sustainability at Kering focused on climate change, preservation of biodiversity and ocean protection.
In 2019, Kering published detailed guidelines on animal welfare, laying out standards for cattle, calves, goats, sheep, ostriches, crocodiles and alligators, pythons, farmed fur and abattoirs — open-sourced, in keeping with other company efforts related to sustainability.
On Friday, Pinault said the group is already fully compliant, and has turned its efforts to support regenerative agriculture and finding alternatives to some of the animal products it utilizes — mostly byproducts of the food industry.
“We have research and innovation teams working on that,” he said. “I think it’s our responsibility to set an example.”
For example, over the summer Gucci unveiled a luxurious, animal-free material for sneakers called Demetra, which contains upward of 77 percent plant-based raw materials.
But given the severity of the climate crisis and threats to biodiversity, Pinault urged more collective, industry-wide actions with the same timetable, standards and targets.
The Humane Society International applauded the move, hailing it as a “significant blow to the declining fur trade” that will ratchet up pressure on other fashion companies.
A growing number of designer and outerwear makers are halting the use of fur, with Valentino, Oscar de la Renta, Canada Goose and Moose Knuckles among those implementing such policies recently.
“The future is clearly fur-free and now one of the world’s largest luxury fashion conglomerates agrees,” said Kitty Block, president of Humane Society International. “As markets around the globe close their doors to fur products opting instead for innovative humane products, it makes complete sense for a power fashion house like Kering to make this ethical decision.”
Meanwhile, the International Fur Federation said it was perplexed by Kering’s decision.
Mark Oaten, CEO of the International Fur Federation, described the news as an “unfortunate surprise,” noting that “Kering has been actively working with the fur sector to develop some fantastic conservation programs around wild fur and supporting local farmers in Namibia.”
Oaten had worked with Kering on developing the Furmark certification system, which launched earlier this month.
He said the French group “seemed genuinely committed to sustainability and conservation and using natural resources such as fur. With this announcement, the efforts and milestones achieved, and work on regulations over the past many years, will go to waste.”
Oaten said the IFF remains “committed to providing a sustainable and natural material we are proud of representing and continues to work with major fashion conglomerates to promote the use of Furmark, our latest global certification and traceability system for natural fur.” He said the aim of Furmark is to provide quality, assurance and consumer confidence in natural fur.
In an interview about Furmark earlier this month, Oaten told WWD that the IFF had worked closely with LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton and Kering on Furmark’s development and that both groups’ brands would be working exclusively with the Furmark label, if they choose to carry fur in their collections.
Specifically, he said the IFF had partnered with Kering in Namibia where SWAKara (South West Africa Karakul) lamb fur is produced by small farmers. The two organizations worked on issues such as predator management, inspection and machinery standards, and supporting local communities and conservation programs.
As reported, the IFF is also working with Moncler, Galeries Lafayette and Russia’s Snow Queen stores, in addition to a series of smaller retailers with regard to Furmark.