Luxury e-tailer group Yoox-Net-A-Porter announced in June it will no longer stock any pieces made from animal fur this year.
The new policy applies to all of the group’s online stores, including Net-A-Porter, Mr Porter, Yoox and The Outnet. In a media release, Yoox-Net-A-Porter describes its latest commitment as “in line with animal rights.”
In the same statement, YNAP (Yoox-Net-A-Porter)’s head of sustainability, Matteo James Moroni said the company’s goal was “to act as an industry-wide catalyst for change”. After the behemoth surveyed 25,000 of its own clients, the general consensus was against fur products.
It’s an interesting move for a luxury online e-tailer, considering fur still holds a perception as a high-end statement. As a company with 2.9 million customers in 180 countries and 2016 net revenues of €1.9 billion, it’s a large gamble.
YNAP’s no-fur policy is consistent with the Fur Free Retailer program’s, defining fur as “mink, coyote, sable, fox, muskrat, rabbit and racoon dog.” It doesn’t apply to leather, wool, fleece, sheepskin, shearling or leather.
So, where does leather fit in? “I’d say any animal leather is fur. Leather is just bald fur. Even woven furs involve skinning,” says an Australian furrier, who prefers not to be named.
Will Net-a-Porter stick to its decision? We’ve seen British retailer Harvey Nichols announce it was banning fur in 2014, to then later reintroduce fox, rabbit and coyote. Marchetti told New York Times “when we commit to something, we really can’t change our minds.”
Ellery, for example, has used fur in past collections. In November 2016 however, designer Kym Ellery committed to going fur free, after mounting pressure from consumers and animal-rights activists.
She did however release a number of fur coats at the beginning of this year. But, in line with the brand’s original statement, it will no longer sell fur as of the middle of 2017. Ellery was unavailable for comment.
Italian fashion house Gucci has also jumped on board, announcing it has banned fur because "it's not modern." It's an important move from what is arguably the world's most relevant label right now. The label also signed up to the Fur-Free Alliance, an organisation that aims to end exploitation and the sacrifice of animals for fur.
“Do you think using furs today is still modern? I don’t think it’s still modern and that’s the reason why we decided not to do that. It’s a little bit out-dated,” chief executive and president Marco Bizzarri told Business of Fashion. “Creativity can jump in many different directions instead of using furs.”
The ban with take effect with its spring/summer 2018 collections. Despite rising to fame again with its fur-lined loafers, the decision should not impact on sales. Bizzarri told Business of Fashion its fur products are worth about €10 million ($11.8 million USD) annually and will be replaced with products made of faux-fur, wool and new fabric innovations.
All of Australia’s major department stores also say no to fur. David Jones quietly adopted the policy back in 2002 and intends to remain fur-free in the future.
“The decision for David Jones to stop selling fur was made as a result of changing customer sentiment around the sourcing and retailing of fur,” says David Jones’ ethical sourcing manager Jaana Quaintance-James. “Fur and its impacts is just one of the many sustainability areas we seek to raise awareness of in our supply chain, in addition to working with our brands and suppliers to ensure that our stock adheres to this.”
Despite leading retailers’ moving away from fur, labels such as Scanlan Theodore (which is stocked at David Jones), continue to sell fur. Step inside any one of its standalone stores, from Sydney to Melbourne, and you’ll see racks draped with European-style coats made from baby goat fur. The label’s Toscana fur jacket currently retails for $2500.
A brand not yet stocked by Net-a-Porter, KitX, has committed to using only chromium-free leather and no animal fur. “She will never use animal fur again,” says former sales and marketing manger, Nikki Valmorbida.
Yoox-Net-A-Porter joins the ranks of luxury fur-free names, such as Stella McCartney, Armani and Calvin Klein. It will be interesting to see if any local or international labels follow suit to fit YNAP’s strict new criteria.
This article was updated on October 12 2017.