The fur debate has been on the table for many years, recently, however it has grown louder and stronger, especially from millennials who despise brands who do not share their same values and purchase only from brands that follow certain ethics.
We all recall the famous I’d “Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur” campaign which allowed us to stare without embarrassment at the flawless and naked figure of Cindy Crawford. It was in 1991 when PETA launched its first campaign with the help of the rock band “The Go-Go’s” to raise awareness about the millions of animals that were being abused and exploited to make fur.
The latest Hermes Birkin Bag furore added fuel to the fire and the discussion is back in the spotlight. Jane Birkin has recently asked the famous French brand to remove her name from the bag until they acted more ethically. This gained lots of media attention, especially from Generation Z who vividly discussed the episode across multiple social media channels. In our study, we calculated that two thirds of our Global Affluents have ‘stopped buying a product because the company acts unethically’ and its now the brands turn to take action and change the practice of their business to meet the new requirements of millennials.
Stella McCartney, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren are just a few of the luxury fashion designers that have already rejected fur, but the list of brands and anti-fur activities are continuing to grow. This is because the buying public at all levels of income, especially millennials, are becoming increasingly aware of the true cost behind clothing –moral and environmental, as opposed to just fiscal – a market is booming for synthetic fur and leather chosen for ethics rather than economics. Fashion brands (and brands in general) need to reset making a positive impact and focusing on the advancements and wellbeing of society, not undermining it.
Stella McCartney has always been a big anti-fur activist, and in her recent autumn/winter collection, she introduced shaggy “Fur Free Fur” coats, each prominently labelled with just that slogan. However, the luxury industry, aligned as it is with the promises of fur has always held onto its furry heritage that little bit tighter. On today’s catwalks, fur is not at all uncommon, see the latest Valentino AW15 runway show. In fact, today there are still over 500 designers using it in their ready-to-wear collections.
Still, it’s important that designers, manufacturers and retailers stay abreast of the ever-changing beliefs and attitudes of their customers, especially of millennials as they will become the largest consumer market for luxury and they do not sympathize brands that do not follow certain codes of conduct, stand for the same values and share the same ideals.
More millennials than non-millennials integrate their beliefs and causes into their choice of companies to support, their purchases and their day-to-day interactions. Millennials are concerned with more than political and ethical issues. They also care about what’s genuine and authentic. This interest falls somewhere between a purely aesthetic preference and a search for honesty, for truth. And it’s a powerful force for motivating millennial customers. It’s not even worth trying to hide your secrets from millennials, because sooner or later all of your deepest skeletons in the cupboard will come out and the power of their online voice will crash your brand and shy consumers them away.