Vivienne Westwood and Stella McCartney’s Plea to Ban Fur in the UK

Katie Abson looks at the designers’ appeal to ban fur sales in the UK.

Iconic British designers Vivienne Westwood, Stella McCartney, Katherine Hamnett, Erdem Moralioglu, Christopher Raeburn, Helen Moore and Shrimps founder Hannah Weiland, alongside luxury department store Selfridges, have co-signed a letter to Boris Johnson that demands a ban on fur sales in the UK.

These eight designers express their support for the Humane Society International (HSI) #FurFreeBritain campaign, which details on their website how, despite Britain being the first country to ban fur farms back in 2000, the UK continues to import fur cruelty from overseas. The UK has the potential to be the first country to ban the use of fur across the globe.

In the letter, the designers express how the use of fur is unnecessary to the fashion industry as the designers retain the ability to create clothing without the use of “suffering caused by the fur trade”. The letter states: “The sale of fur is simply not aligned with the ethical trajectory of the vast majority of retailers, designers and businesses that make up the British fashion retail industry.”

Countless British celebrities, such as Dame Judi Dench and Laura Whitmore, have also expressed their support by joining HSI’s campaign. Over the past several years, influential fashion companies have taken the step toward a fur-free future. Calvin Klein abolished the use of fur back in 1994, just under three decades after Klein founded the company in 1968. Giorgio Armani banned the use of fur in 2016, followed by the likes of Versace, Michael Kors, Victoria Beckham and Gucci. Burberry followed the movement in 2018, as confirmed in an interview with CEO Marco Gobbetti.

Stella McCartney’s “Sustainability Policies” outline a list of steps McCartney has taken to ensure the company is sustainable and cruelty-free: “No leather, no fur, no skins, no feathers.” In 2018, McCartney wrote an open letter to her member of parliament in a plea for MPs to take the issue seriously and to begin the debate against fur sales. “We do not believe that animals should die for the sake of fashion,” the letter reads.

Vivienne Westwood met with representatives of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals Europe (PETA) in 2007, where she learned about the conditions of animals who are raised for fur production. The company has banned the use of fur in their collections ever since.

However, many designers and industry representatives have differing opinions. The Natural Fibers Alliance (NFA) says that eradicating the use of fur would instead harm the efforts the country has taken to protect environmental sustainability.

Yves Salomon, whose company has used artisanal furs since 1920, says: “The biggest issue facing the planet today is plastic, which I think is far more important than the debate over fur.”

Nonetheless, Westwood and McCartney, alongside the six other influential fashion houses that have co-signed the letter to Johnson, have made it clear that they will not stop fighting until fur sales in the UK are banned for good.

The Prime Minister has yet to respond to the letter.

If you are interested in contributing to the ban of fur sales in the UK, you can sign HSI’s petition here: https://action.hsi.org/page/31830/action/1

You can follow more updates about Katie’s work on Twitter via @katieawriter.

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