October 14, 2017

Gucci Is Going Fur-Free

One of the hottest high fashion brands of the past few years has made some exciting announcements across their social media platforms. The high fashion Italian label Gucci announced that they would be going fur-free, starting from the S/S 2018 collection which was featured on the runway in September. In their Instagram post caption, they mentioned that they replaced the kangaroo fur in the Princetown loafers with lamb's wool starting from the beginning of 2017. They also announced that they would donate to UNICEF's Girls' Empowerment Initiative which funds education, justice, and health for teenage girls. What does this mean for the brand, and will other high fashion brands follow in Gucci's footsteps to make this same commitment?

Image 1/2/3 via Instagram.
Gucci is an extremely popular and influential brand that even lead to copycats and lawsuits due to the rising popularity of embroidered motifs and the brand's classic stripe pattern, and "inspired" designs of the Gucci's Princetown loafers have popped up everywhere in the shelves of fast fashion retailers. The brand's maximalist aesthetic contrasted so strongly from the previous years of high fashion minimalism that the brand has since received many praises and applauses due to it's transformation of both the brand and the fashion industry itself; even I was one of the many that instantly fell in love with the S/S 2016 collection. There is no doubt that the brand has become a strong presence and influencer ever since, which is why their most recent announcement is so important and interesting.

Everyone is familiar with the fact that the high fashion industry is notorious for unapologetically using real fur in its designs with few big-name brands using faux fur. A PETA activist has even crashed the Christian Dior runway holding a sign that says "Fur Shame."

Gif via Giphy
About two months ago, images of a very large and overweight fox was circulating social media with claims that brands were breeding genetically modified foxes in order to produce a higher yield of fur, and one of the brands that were being paired with this image was Gucci. I couldn't find a non-biased or reputable source for this claim, so whether or not this was true has yet to be confirmed. Either way, the company would have a hard time defending itself against these rumors if they were indeed still using fur. Coincidentally (or not), Gucci has made their recent announcement that they were no longer going to be fur in their products.

The decision to go fur-free is a great move in terms of PR. With the growth of veganism and ethical and sustainable fashion (we are living in an era of "woke-ness"), it only makes sense that the brand continues to grow with its consumers, especially considering that those who are vegan or purchase ethical/sustainable products are likely to be more wealthy. I say that because both take time and effort, something that wealthy people are more likely to have, to participate in since it requires research, can be expensive, and is sometimes less accessible. More people are beginning to become aware of animal cruelty since we're no longer living in an era where "fish don't feel." Plus, this announcement arrived just in time to save the company from falling into a deep pit if the accusations against Gucci regarding the genetically modified monster foxes is ever confirmed.

Left image via Vogue / Right image via Refinery29
As for their involvement in UNICEF's Girls' Empowerment Initiative, it only makes sense as feminism is a really strong topic, especially among millennials who the brand appears to have a special connection with. Other high fashion brands in the recent past have had models strutting down the runway with slogans alluding to social justice issues such as the classic "We Should All Be Feminists" by Dior or the problematic "Every Color Matters" by Ports 1961. This action shines a good light on Gucci, and I'm happy about it, even if the company only did it for the good of the company. In my opinion, the best way for high fashion brands to become involved in social issues such as feminism and racism is to be an active participator; selling t-shirts with slogans does nothing but make the company seem superficial and that they only want to make money off of the issues minorities are experiencing today.

Will other brands go fur-free?
If I haven't made this clear to you by now, Gucci is really influential. They have not only captured the attention of consumers but of its competitors as well. With this in mind, wouldn't it make sense that other brands follow through?

In a society that is becoming increasingly aware of environmental sustainability, humane labor practices, and animal cruelty issues, remaining a seller of fur products among a range of brands that promote faux-fur looks outdated, or in CEO Marco Bizzarri's words, "I don't think it's modern." Technology has also gotten a lot better at producing faux-fur products, so being a user of fur while the technology for high quality faux-fur exists just looks really cruel and shallow. Whether or not the use of fur will negatively impact certain brands is beyond my knowledge, but as I've mentioned before, a large number of Gucci's consumers are millennials who tend to care more about these issues than older generations so Gucci isn't likely going to be affected by this change.

October 11, 2017

Pitfalls in Avoiding Overconsumption

Image was found via Tumblr.
I spend an embarrassing amount of hours daily perfecting my Amazon wishlist by browsing online clothing destinations. In fact, my Amazon wishlist is always on standby just in case I can no longer hold back the temptation to pull out my credit card to order something online. I have continuously growing Pinterest boards, file folders, and a photo album of outfits I take inspiration from and want to recreate. I follow dozens of clothing brands I can't afford but dream of wearing or finding borderline knock-offs to emulate pieces of high fashion accessories. Many times, I stare at my closet in defeat, telling myself, "Why don't I have ANYTHING to wear?" when in fact I do have plenty of things to wear; I'm just bored and in need (I use this word loosely) of something new.

If I recall correctly, I came across the term "fast fashion" in the first semester of my sophomore year of high school. At the time, I was (and still am) madly in love with and passionate about fashion and the industry itself, and I yearned to become a master of fashion-related topics. This was also around the time when Michael Brown was killed and when I was introduced to a number of other social issues, so my discovery of fast fashion issues came in the perfect time for me to become extremely passionate as I was already interested in social justice. I vowed to never buy from fast fashion brands again, and I actually stuck to it. I don't recall ever buying fast fashion, but I must admit, my memory is pretty awful. Either way, my consumption was definitely lower than ever before in terms of clothing.

However, I began to online shop the summer before junior year, and that was when it all fell apart. Consequently, my passion for ethical and sustainable fashion just disappeared, although I continued to tell myself that I was still passionate about it, and I just needed time. However, I am now a freshman in college, and my consumption of clothing is just as bad as–if not worse than–before.

Reflecting on my current relationship with clothing, it seems to me that the issue at hand is no longer about buying the wrong things and not using my purchases, but instead, it's about not being happy and working with what I already own. Most of the items on my wishlist are actually very wearable with my current closet, but so many things in the world are. An aspect of ethical consumption is buying things that you'll actually use, and of course, I totally agree with that. However, just because you know you'll use something doesn't mean you should buy it. It's one of the most abundant and dangerous pitfalls in my journey towards ethical consumption and sustainable fashion as of yet because the reason itself is very reasonable. It's so easy to forget that while a purchase may not hurt your wallet or may seem sensible in a sense, it's impact on the environment should still override reasons of making the purchase.

I am writing this post to remind myself of who I once was and who I would like to return to, in some aspects, in the near future. I'll come back to this topic once I have figured out how to find a balance between my love of fashion and style as well as my responsibility to take care of the environment.