Kering is the latest company to go fur-free. The luxury conglomerate joins a host of companies — most recently, MyTheresa — making moves to swap genuine animal fur for faux alternatives.
Last month, the online retailer pledged to phase out all products made with real fur. Though MyTheresa will continue selling leather, shearling, and calf hair, the company’s rejection of fur — and its recent ousting of exotic skins — is indicative of a larger shift towards a supposedly cruelty-free fashion industry.
But, with no indication that interest in furry outerwear, footwear, and accessories is waning, can we really count on faux fur as a “sustainable” solution?
Prada, Gucci, and Versace — just a few fashion houses that have shunned genuine fur — have proven that imitation skins can look just as nice as the real deal. “Mink” coats, “fox” stoles and “shearling” slippers are all surprisingly convincing, but opting for them in the name of animal welfare isn’t as eco-friendly as you might think.
Most faux fur is made from forms of plastic such as acrylic, modacrylic and polyester, which aren’t biodegradable. Even if your favorite furry topper is made of recycled plastic, it’s still plastic — and will likely sit in a landfill for hundreds of years.
Faux fur also sheds, via normal wear and tear and in the wash. These tiny plastic fibers end up in oceans and landfills, too.
Of course, real fur has its own costs, namely the wellbeing and lives of animals. We don’t need to rehash what’s already been said by many before us — it’s evident that fur farming is a cruel practice that also comes with a substantial carbon footprint.
Clearly, faux fur vs. real fur isn’t a black and white issue. It’s full of nuances that don’t exactly offer a cut-and-dry answer for our love of all things soft.
Retailers and brands, many of which are hopping onto the anti-fur wagon in the name of box-checking, need to reevaluate whether touting faux fur as sustainable really makes sense. (It doesn’t.) As imperfect as they are, alternatives such as recirculating vintage furs, or using fur from overpopulated and invasive species, are more appropriate responses that (in time) could be built into business models.
In the meantime, feel free to take that old mink off your grandmother’s hands.