Fur is a non-essential luxury item. It is one of the least consumer-supported animal derived materials and there is a strong worldwide opposition to fur sales. The public's long-standing opposition to fur farming and the changed ethical perception of animals have led an increasing number of countries to legislate against fur farming and have also led to a plethora of fur-free businesses in recent years.
Progress for fashion brands
Over the past years an increasing number of fashion houses stepped away from using real fur. This trend is not only evident in well-known large department stores and high street brands, but fortunately also in the luxury segment. Iconic names such as Armani, Burberry, Gucci, Prada and Versace are fur-free for several years now. Labels to make the change in 2021/2022 include Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Brioni, Canada Goose, Dolce & Gabbana, Moncler, Oscar de la Renta, Saint Laurent and Valentino! And on top of this, near the end of 2021 the international fashion magazine Elle pledged to go fur-free. This applies to all 45 editions worldwide and means that the magazine will no longer show editorial content promoting animal fur on its pages, images, and online channels. This also applies to advertisements placed with Elle.
Struggling fur industry
The shift towards fur free fashion with more and more designers turning their backs on the fur industry is also reflected in the declining fur production figures. The numbers plummeted even further due to devastating COVID-19 outbreaks on mink farms in Europe and North America, and the realization that fur farming poses an enormous health risk to humans. The worldwide number of animals killed on fur farms has fallen from around 95 million in 2018, to 76 million in 2019, to about 56 million in 2020. In the EU, this decline is also reflected in the decrease in farm numbers: the number of active mink farms has dropped from 4,350 in 2018, to 2,800 in 2019, to 759 in 2020.
A further decline is expected for future figures because in 2021 alone, Estonia, France and Italy have adopted bans on fur farming and similar regulations are under discussion in other countries.
EU countries call for an end of fur farming in Europe
During the European Union's Agriculture and Fishery Council Meeting in June 2021,12 EU member states (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxemburg, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia and The Netherlands) called the European Commission to take action to permanently end fur farming in the EU based on animal welfare, ethics, and health risks for humans and animals. With this gain in support for an end to fur farming, it is now up to the European Commission to step up and investigate the options for a permanent prohibition of fur farming in the EU and to present a legislative proposal to achieve this goal.
Fur in the U.S.
In October 2019, California became the first U.S. state to adopt a ban on the sales and manufacture of animal fur products. The legislation will go into effect in 2023 and follows similar sale or import bans in the California cities of Los Angeles (2018), San Francisco (2018), Berkeley (2017) and West Hollywood (2011). In 2020, Wellesley became the first city in Massachusetts to ban fur sales, followed by the city of Weston in 2021.
In 2021, several states, including Massachusetts, have introduced bills to ban fur sales on a statewide level; on an even larger scale, a federal bill was also introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives that would prohibit the import, export, transport, sale, or purchase of mink in the U.S.
As a member of the Fur Free Alliance, FOUR PAWS is proud to support the Fur Free Retailer Program, and in the U.S. we are involved in several national coalitions working towards legislative change for a fur-free future. To learn more about our work involving all animals used for fashion, visit our Wear it Kind program, where we are building a global movement of people, brands and designers committed to ensuring that no animal suffers in the name of fashion.