Macy’s move seals the fate of fur in fashion, says analyst

Efforts to eliminate animal fur in fashion continue to accelerate as cities and even US states are joining brands and retailers in banning its use.

In two major developments in as many weeks, US department store retailer Macy’s has pledged to end the sale of fur across its namesake and Bloomingdale’s stores by 2021, while California has become the first US state to pass legislation banning the sale of items made from mink, rabbit and coyote fur.

Leonie Barrie, Apparel Analyst at GlobalData, says that during the last two years alone Prada, Gucci, Versace, Michael Kors, Jimmy Choo, DKNY, Burberry, Chanel and other high-profile brands have all joined the fur-free movement. 

“The decision by Macy’s is significant because of the company’s enormous size and scope. With sales of around $25 billion last year across 870 stores, it is by far the largest US retailer so far to adopt a ban.”

The California law, which is set to go into effect from the beginning of 2023, is likely to pave the way for other state-wide bans. Similar bills have been introduced in Hawaii and New York, while Los Angeles, San Francisco, West Hollywood and Berkeley have already implemented fur sales bans. Further afield there is pressure on the British government from animal rights groups such as Humane Society International to make the UK the first country in the world to prohibit the sale of animal fur.

Also easing the transition is the rise of innovative fabric technology to help combat concerns that faux fur alternatives based on synthetic polymers derived from fossil fuels are hard to recycle, and release microplastics during laundering.

The latest collection from designer Stella McCartney uses a new sustainable bio-based faux fur called Koba, which is made using recycled polyester and Sorona plant-based fibres from DuPont, and can be recycled at the end of its life.

Barrie concludes: “There has been a steady move away from fur by leading Western brands and retailers over the past decade or so, and there’s no question its use continues to be a major, hot-button issue.

“There are many different sides to the discussion. But increasing consumer concerns over animal welfare and the environment, rising interest in animal-free vegan lifestyles, aggressive social media campaigns by anti-fur activists, and now a rising tide of legislation are all likely to build on a growing shift away from fur in the fashion industry.”

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