In a landmark move, Norway is to become the 14th European country to phase out fur farming. The country's newly formed coalition government announced a manifesto pledge to ban all fur farming in the country by 2025.
Why is this such big news? At one time, Norway was the world's largest producer of fox fur – the market is now dominated by China – and nearly one million foxes and mink are intensively bred and killed for their fur coats each year. The country currently has around 200 fur farms, according to the Norwegian Fur Breeders Association, meaning this promise is not only being praised by animal rights groups but will inevitably send ripples through the fashion industry, hopefully encouraging more and more brands to turn away from the cruel practice.
Back in March 2016, Giorgio Armani pledged to go fur-free but the conversation was sparked once again in October of last year, with Gucci's announcement that, beginning with its SS18 collection, it would also see the end of fur. The brand will no longer use fox, rabbit, Karakul lamb, and raccoon, dog as part of its new 10-year “Culture of Purpose” sustainability plan. Gucci president and CEO Marco Bizzarri made the statement in London during the 2017 Kering Talk at the London College of Fashion, and spoke of the brand's plans to join the Fur Free Alliance.
“Being socially responsible is one of Gucci’s core values, and we will continue to strive to do better for the environment and animals," Bizzarri stated. "Gucci is excited to take this next step and hopes it will help inspire innovation and raise awareness, changing the luxury fashion industry for the better.”
The statement clearly made waves, causing other design houses to analyse their own relationship with fur, as just weeks later Michael Kors and its acquired brand Jimmy Choo also pledged to phase out fur by the end of 2018. “Due to technological advances in fabrications, we now have the ability to create a luxe aesthetic using non-animal fur," Kors said. "We will showcase these new techniques in our upcoming runway show in February.”
In 2018, the practice is not only supremely cruel – for animals, fur farms mean a life in cramped, barren cages with painful deaths by gassing or electrocution – but dated. A host of the most forward-thinking and influential brands are already fur-free, from Shrimps to Stella McCartney.
"Consumers are turning their backs on the bloody fur trade," Ruud Tombrock, executive director of Humane Society International noted in a statement, "and it is only right that Norway’s politicians enable Norway to join the fast-growing list of compassionate nations refusing to allow cruel fur farming within their borders.” The ban is awaiting a parliamentary vote, but the majority of the country's political parties are expected to support it.
When smaller and independent brands make the use of faux fur so appealing, and global and influential houses like Stella McCartney and now Gucci and Michael Kors lead the way to an industry free of fur, we can only hope more announcements like this take place in 2018. Long live fur-free fashion – there's absolutely no need for style to cost innocent lives.