Chanel Ditches Exotic Skins and Fur, a Luxury Brand First

Luxury brand Chanel has decided to end its use of exotic animal skins and furs, making it the first large luxury designer range to do so.

Chanel’s head of fashion, Bruno Pavlovksy told French daily newspaper Le Figaro that it had become increasingly difficult to find pelts that met the company’s ethical standards. Rather than being pushed into this due to external factors, Pavlovksy said that ultimately the decision was Chanel’s as a company.

“At Chanel, we are continually reviewing our supply chains to ensure they meet our expectations of integrity and traceability,” a Chanel spokesperson told CNN. “In this context, it is our experience that it is becoming increasingly difficult to source exotic skins which match our ethical standards.”

The spokesperson also corroborated other comments that this phaseout will apply to fur, which the company is billing as an “opportunity” to generate new high-end items using the latest, ethically and environmentally promising fabrics.

What this means in practice for Chanel is that its range of python-, crocodile-, lizard- and stingray-skin bags and accessories will gradually disappear from the market. Some already have, as the company reportedly removed python-skin bags from the its website in the past week.

The company has declined to say just how great a part the exotic skin trade played in its overall retail profile, so it isn’t clear how long this phaseout might take at the retail level. But these statements from the company create a dividing line that a range of animal rights groups are welcoming.

“The growth in fabulous luxury and eco-friendly fibres that don’t involve animals suffering and dying is helping to drive forward this new era of ethical fashion,” Humane Society International director Claire Bass told The Telegraph. “Fur-using brands such as Fendi… Dolce & Gabbana and Louis Vuitton need to take heed and embrace this fur-free future.”

While Chanel is the first high-end label to explicitly ban exotic skins and furs, some high street brands have been one step ahead, including ASOS, Nike, Nine West and Puma to name just a few. VF Corporation, who owns brands like Nautica and The North Face, announced that it was going fur-free last year.

What is perhaps doubly interesting about this move is that the company has started to phase out exotic animal skins despite relatively little consumer pressure to do so. While the use of fur in fashion has been a major source of protest, particularly for the past five years or so, using exotic animals and their skins hasn’t been adopted as an animal rights issue to quite the same degree. A part of that may be their high price tag niche appeal. Since they aren’t sold widely, public awareness that exotic animal skins are even used in this way is, perhaps, relatively low.

There may be another factor at play here as well: a lack of cuteness to draw eyes to the cause.

There is a recognized phenomenon of some animals—for example the tiger or, specifically in terms of legal fashion, mink and foxes—being easy to market as animals worth protecting. Their conventional beauty makes it relatively easy to put up posters, draw sympathy to their plight and start up protest.

But animals like crocodiles, lizards and snakes (or even stingrays) are a harder sell. Conservation funding for so-called “ugly” animals tends to be far lower than for conservation darlings such as the panda (despite the panda being an evolutionary sinkhole). This seems to be at least a feature of why people simply don’t care as much about the exotic skin trade.

This has caused several issues, not least of which is a lack of action on the trade. Perhaps one of the biggest problems, though, is that some brands have instead turned to commissioning their own reptile farms to be able to supposedly source their reptile skins in ways that meet the companies “ethical standards”. We might venture that, if ethical standards allow for creating reptile farms, those ethical standards are not truly ethical at all. This speaks to how lack of public awareness has allowed brands to fudge a fix for the ethical sourcing problem.

Hopefully, Chanel taking this step will raise awareness about exotic animals in the fashion industry and direct new attention and energy to moving to a complete post-animal products fashion world.

Take Action

Another way that we can protect animals from fashion industry brutality is to support fur bans. The city of Los Angeles banned fur sales within city limits this year, and now a Care2 petition is demanding that the entire state of Rhode Island ban the sale of fur. Join 48,000 Care2 members and sign the petition today!

If you want to make a difference on an issue you find deeply troubling, you too can create a Care2 petition, and use this handy guide to get started. You’ll find Care2’s vibrant community of activists ready to step up and help you.

 

Photo credit: Getty Images.

60 comments

Richard B
Richard B2 days ago

thank you for sharing

SEND
Mark Donner
Mark Donner3 days ago

Next step is for the animals to ban their selling of human skins and their vicious trapping and torture-slaughter of humans... oh wait that's only stinking humanity that does that.

SEND
Greta L
Greta L6 days ago

thank you for sharing

SEND
Olivia M
Olivia M6 days ago

thank you

SEND
HEIKKI R
HEIKKI R7 days ago

thank you

SEND
Terri S
Terri S8 days ago

Great news!!!

SEND
Glennis Whitney
Glennis W8 days ago

Fantastic Thank you for caring and sharing

SEND
Glennis Whitney
Glennis W8 days ago

Thank you for caring and sharing

SEND
Glennis Whitney
Glennis W8 days ago

Good news Thank you for caring and sharing

SEND
Glennis Whitney
Glennis W8 days ago

Thank you for caring and sharing

SEND