The Tapestry-owned accessible luxury label has pledged to completely phase animal fur out in time for the debut of its Fall 2019 collection, joining a growing list of luxury brands and retailers turning their backs on the material.
The ban will include all types animal fur, including mink, coyote, fox and rabbit. The brand will continue to use shearling, mohair and angora, animal products that some competitors have dropped along with fur.
The policy is in line with shifting attitudes both within the fashion industry and wider society, said Coach chief executive Joshua Schulman. “We understood from our employee population and from our consumers that it was important to them that we take a stand on this issue,” he told BoF, also pointing to recent legislative changes in California and India. “We’re doing it because we believe it’s the right thing to do.”
The ban will have a limited impact on the brand’s bottom line, as fur currently accounts for less than 1 percent of its womenswear ready to wear business. “It’s never been a significant part of our business,” said Schulman, adding that Coach is able to “more than satisfy” its business needs with fur alternatives. Last year, Coach hit $4.11 billion in net sales, up 3 percent from the previous year.
The anti-fur movement within fashion has been gaining pace recently. Within the past 18 months, Yoox Net-a-Porter, Gucci, Michael Kors, Versace, Furla, Burberry, Farfetch and DVF have all adopted anti-fur policies, while this year’s September London Fashion Week became the first of the major fashion weeks not to show any fur on the catwalk.
The $40 billion global fur industry has been fighting back with campaigns highlighting fur as a natural, sustainable product that is more environmentally friendly than fur alternatives, which are often made of plastic. In a recent interview with BoF, Mark Oaten, chief executive of the international fur federation, said he believed brands adopting anti-fur policies “are making a grave mistake” that they will regret in the long term.
“If you switch from natural fur, or indeed other natural products like wool, and you move towards plastic alternatives, you are not in my view acting sustainably,” he said. “It is going to cause them problems in the future, because I believe that they will come under huge pressure to ban wool, cashmere and leather.”
Coach, well known for is shearling-lined biker jackets, will continue to use shearling in its collections. Schulman emphasised Coach’s commitment to ethical sourcing. “For all of our materials, we take great care throughout our supply chain to prevent sourcing fibres from suppliers known for their abusive behaviours,” he said.