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.

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