LONDON, United Kingdom — London Fashion Week kicked off on Friday, declaring itself fur-free for the first time as an increasing number of designers seek to burnish their ethical credentials.
The five-day trade event, the second leg of the month-long Spring/Summer 2019 catwalk season, has fewer big names than New York, Milan and Paris but draws buyers, journalists and bloggers from around the world for its emerging talent and established brands such as Burberry, Christopher Kane and Erdem.
According to a survey by the British Fashion Council (BFC), no animal fur will feature on the London catwalks or in designer presentations this season.
"We ask every season whether fur will be represented on the catwalk or in presentations ... This is the first time that designers have said that there will be 100 percent no fur on the catwalk," BFC chief executive Caroline Rush told Reuters.
"I think it just reflects a change in their creative choices and the power of the consumer and really thinking about the images that they're putting out through fashion week."
This is the first time that designers have said that there will be 100 percent no fur on the catwalk.
Burberry last week said it would no longer use real fur, the latest fashion house to ditch animal skin amid growing pressure from animal rights groups and younger clients' changing tastes. Other labels turning their back on fur include Italian luxury labels Versace and Gucci.
"Of the big four [fashion capitals], [London] is certainly the first that can say that we'll be 100 percent fur free this time," Rush added.
Outside the main catwalk venue, a small group from animal rights group PETA celebrated the news with five women dressed as cats holding signs reading "fur-free catwalk."
The women's clothing market grew by 3.2 percent to £28.4 billion ($37.26 billion) last year in Britain, according to market research firm Mintel, and sales are forecast to increase to £33.5 billion in 2022.
Getting the ball rolling with a bold and colourful show, designer Richard Malone chose hot pink, mustard yellow and sharp blues and greens for his edgy collection which appeared to draw on 1960s-1980s influences.
Models wore light jackets with exaggerated shoulders, tasselled mini-skirts and slim over-the-knee shorts with chunky boots. Printed tops featured the face of a stranger in a crowd, according to show notes. Asked to describe the line, Malone said it was "bossy and fun."
Layered dresses in organza and tulle bore soft, romantic touches such as cut out lace patterns. While there was plenty of white and blue, Aksu also chose purple, coral and hot pink for his looks which were accessorised with flowery headpieces.
"It was almost like a romantic folk collection because of my muse and because of also my style," he told Reuters backstage.
Among the highlights this season is Victoria Beckham who is celebrating 10 years in fashion by bringing her catwalk show to London from New York, and the first collection by Burberry's new chief creative officer Riccardo Tisci.
By Marie-Louise Gumuchian and Jayson Mansaray; additional reporting by Saskia O'Donoghue; writing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; editing by Raissa Kasolowsky and Alison Williams.