As Gucci announces plans to stop using fur from 2018 animal welfare campaigners have called the news “a huge game-changer”.
The fashion house said the decision was part of the company’s commitment to “sustainability”.
Fur farming has been banned in the UK since 2000 but the import of fur products isn’t illegal.
Fox and mink are the most popular animals worn in Britain with the industry worth almost £22bn worldwide.
So what are the arguments for and against wearing fur?
Mark Oaten runs the International Fur Federation: “I’m disappointed by what Gucci have done. It makes no sense,” he said.
He added: “They said they’re doing it for environmental reasons but if you think about it fur is the most natural luxury item there is.
“It comes from a natural animal, it’s biodegradable, it doesn’t end up in landfills and like fake fur it doesn’t use a ton of chemicals to produce it.”
For years the conditions and treatment of animals used in the fur trade has been criticised by animal welfare groups.
As boss of the IFF, Mark Oaten’s role is to ensure all the products imported into the UK meet regulations.
He says 70% of the fur imported into the UK is from Europe.
China and the USA are also huge producers of fur – these countries have been criticised for their animal welfare regulations in the past.
There have been reports that animals are reared in cramped cages and some are even skinned alive for their fur.
Mark Oaten admits he’s seen the videos and pictures circulated which would appear support such claims, but says this doesn’t happen in the regulated industry.
“The concept of skinning an animal alive is horrible, it’s hideous. I’ve never seen it doing this job.
“I don’t like seeing those images but there’re a lot of myths, a lot of misinformation out there.
“My job is get the truth out there and be transparent, to let people know we operate to a very high standard when it comes to animal welfare and the environment.”
According to the IFF Finland (fox) and Denmark (mink) are the biggest exporters of fur to the UK.
Image caption The HSI says animals are often reared in small cages, like this Canadian fox
Harriett Barclay works for the Humane Society International (HSI) who campaign on behalf of animal protection issues around the world.
She said: “We are delighted by this news. Gucci is one of the biggest names in fashion and to have a brand with so much sway do this, we hope it’ll filter down.
“The fur industry is inherently cruel. Animals are kept in cages sometimes for their entire lives, and remember these are wild animals.”
Image caption Anti-fur campaigners during protest march in 2008 in London
The HSI claim sales of fur products are on the decline in the UK with consumers becoming more environmentally and ethically aware.
“Nine out of 10 British people think it’s wrong to buy or sell fur. You’d be hard-pressed to find any real fur on the high street.”
“We’ve already banned cat, dog and seal fur from the UK for over 10 years now. We’ve banned fur farming so I think the next step is to ban all fur,” Harriet said.
“It’s a material which is completely unnecessary and causes a huge amount of cruelty and suffering.”
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