PARIS, France — Fur trimmings were scarce on the past month's spring catwalk collections in Milan and Paris, but the two leading luxury centres are some way off following London Fashion Week in going fur-free.
Some top brands are resisting pressure from animal rights groups and more environmentally sensitive consumers, fuelling an industry debate that is far from played out.
Yet Fendi for instance — the Rome-based, LVMH-owned brand famed for its luxurious coats — is holding its ground on what is one of its signature traits.
"It's part of our history... and everyone is free to make their choices," Silvia Venturini Fendi, one of two creative directors at the Rome-based brand, told Reuters before the Milan catwalk show.
Others prefer to sit on the fence.
France's Hermès said last month it had made no decision and Prada dropped fur from advertising campaigns and shows to discourage demand but not from all its clothes, even if usage is minimal.
Plenty of Python
Luxury online retailer Yoox Net-A-Porter has also abandoned fur and Los Angeles moved in September to outlaw its sale and manufacture within the city limits.
Few are yet to ditch the use of exotic skins like crocodile, however — less of a hot-button issue among consumers, but just as controversial for campaigners, even if some manufacturers have invested in their own farms to improve breeding conditions.
At Gucci's Paris show, snake skins came in trouser and dress form, while Kering's Saint Laurent channeled python boots. In Milan, snake skin ran through collections at Cavalli.
Anissa Putois, France spokeswoman for animals rights group PETA, said it wanted brands to ditch all types of animal skins, but that its anti-fur campaigns had been the most successful.
"Leather is the real impact on the industry," said vegan-friendly British designer Stella McCartney after presenting her brand's collection in Paris on Monday.
"Anything is better than nothing though." The next fashion weeks focused on winter would be the real test of the fur-free movement, she said.
But with sustainability the buzzword for many in fashion, some have argued fur could be more eco-friendly than some synthetic materials, and pushed for pelts not to be wasted.
"If we look at sustainability seriously... it is better to use leather and fur from the food chain rather than dumping them in a landfill," said Carlo Capasa, president of Italy's national fashion association CNMI said, stressing a regulatory framework was needed.
By Giuilia Segreti and Sarah White; editor: John Stonestreet.