In a landmark move, Norway will 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 nationwide by 2025.
Once the world's largest producer of fox fur — the market is now dominated by China — Norway sees nearly one million foxes and mink intensively bred and killed for their fur coats each year, Reuters reports. According to the Norwegian Fur Breeders Association, the country currently has around 200 fur farms; for animals, fur farms mean a life in cramped, barren cages with painful deaths by gassing or electrocution. Thus, this promise is not just one being praised by animal rights groups — it will also inevitably send ripples through the fashion industry, considering the international fur trade is a market estimated to be worth over $40 billion and to employ over one million people.
Back in March of 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 spring 2018 collection, it would no longer use mink, fox, rabbit, Karakul lamb, and raccoon dog as part of its new 10-year “Culture of Purpose” sustainability plan. “Being socially responsible is one of Gucci’s core values, and we will continue to strive to do better for the environment and animals," Gucci president and CEO Marco Bizzarri said in London during the 2017 Kering Talk at the London College of Fashion. "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 reevaluate their own relationship with fur. Just weeks later, Michael Kors and its recently 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 a statement, Ruud Tombrock, executive director of Humane Society International, said: "Consumers are turning their backs on the bloody fur trade, 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.” Though the ban is currently awaiting a parliamentary vote, 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 (see: Shrimps), and influential global houses like Stella McCartney, Gucci, and Michael Kors lead the way to an industry free of fur, we can only hope 2018 signals the tipping point for brands to take more accountability — and to invest in more sustainable and cruelty-free alternatives. Because there's absolutely no need for style to cost innocent lives.