Fur and Fashion
During Karl Lagerfeld’s sixty-five-year career, the fashion industry witnessed profound shifts in attitudes toward the treatment of animals in the production of clothing from creative, scientific, legislative, and environmental perspectives. In America, organizations such as the Humane Society of the United States (founded 1954), the Animal Welfare Institute (founded 1979), and PETA (founded 1980) advocated for the humane and ethical treatment of animals. While some legislation served to protect animals at the federal level, like the Endangered Species Act of 1973, action began to occur more frequently through local and state legislation. In 2019, California became the first state to ban the sale of new fur products, and thirteen municipalities across the country have since passed similar laws. Over the years, some of the most impactful change has been the animal welfare policies adopted due to partnerships between animal protection organizations and fashion brands and retailers who are moving away from the use of animal products.
In 2018, Chloé pledged to go fur-free, and Chanel announced that they would no longer use fur or exotic skins in their fashions. The following year Lagerfeld’s eponymous label officially renounced fur, and Chloé further expanded their commitment to prohibit the use of exotic skins. While Fendi has yet to adopt a fur-free policy, their fashion collections have moved from “haute fourrure” (2015–18) to the designation of “Fendi couture” (2018–present). As the fashion industry continues to innovate, modern alternatives have emerged that can achieve, and even surpass, the haptic and aesthetic qualities of fur and skins while also fulfilling the functions of warmth and protection that fur has historically provided.
Additional Resources on Fur in Fashion:
Animal Legal Defense Fund
Animal Welfare Institute
Emberley, Julia V. The Cultural Politics of Fur. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1997.
Farley Gordon, Jennifer and Colleen Hill. Sustainable Fashion: Past, Present, and Future. New York: Bloomsbury, 2014.
The Fur Free Alliance
The Humane Society of the United States/Humane Society International
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)