Luxury fashion brand Hugo Boss has pledged to go completely fur-free from its autumn/winter 2016 collections onwards, to be shown in the spring. The pledge was made public in Hugo Boss's Sustainability Report 2014 published last month and puts the brand in the same ranks as Stella McCartney, Tommy Hilfiger, ASOS, Calvin Klein and Topshop Topman who do not use fur in their collections.
“Hugo Boss's firm commitment to go completely fur-free sends a really powerful message to other luxury brands, that animal cruelty is never fashionable,” said Claire Bass, Executive Director of Humane Society International. “By setting a new trend of compassion, Hugo Boss is showing that it is never acceptable for animals to die for the catwalk, and that's a fashion craze we really hope other luxury brands will follow.”
The move by such a high profile name opens up the fur debate – which had never really closed – and draws attention to the fact that there is a demand for fur-free labels. Of course, some luxury brands like Fendi or Astrid Andersen have fur as an intrinsic part of their collections and will not do without it, so where is the place for these designers in fashion?
An interesting article in the Business of Fashion last month called for “fur with high standards” to be the only acceptable form. A fur market where it is produced with regulated standards that ensure the animals' welfare make it no different to the production of beef or leather from well-grazed cattle, it could be said, but there is a long, long way to go before that is the case. The article argued: “In the jewellery business, for example, there is an understanding that “blood diamonds” from conflict areas are not to be used. In the luxury confectionary business, cocoa from countries that use child workers for harvesting is completely off limits.
But we do not hear anyone arguing that diamonds or chocolate should be banned altogether?”
Varying levels of animal welfare standards in fur farming throughout the world make it confusing for the consumer, perhaps that they could be buying a “blood diamond” of the fur market.
Whether brands like Hugo Boss will reintroduce fur into their collections if and when that “fur with high standards” dream becomes a worldwide reality remains to be seen, but for now, it's out with the fox and in with the faux.