Four years after mega-brand Gucci declared fur “outdated,” parent company Kering is banning the material across all its labels.
Most of the company’s brands are already fur-free, part of a wider strategy to position the French luxury conglomerate at the forefront of efforts to build a more sustainable fashion industry.
Fur “is symbolic; it’s a material that was very much linked to the luxury industry historically,” said Kering chief executive François-Henri Pinault. “Going fur-free gives a good signal that things are removing seriously in this industry in different ways to sustainability.”
Kering has sought to reframe its brand of luxury around ethical and environmentally responsible business practices that increasingly resonate with a values-conscious consumer base. “Through this lens, some materials have no place in luxury,” Pinault said.
Kering’s fur ban is consistent with a broader shift in the luxury sector, which has seen a surge of brands and retailers go fur-free in recent years. The material’s fall from fashion has accompanied growing awareness among consumers of the industry’s negative impact on the planet. Decreased demand, government bans and vocal protests from animal-rights activists mean ditching fur has become a relatively easy way to signal brands are trying to take positive action, particularly for companies that don’t generate a huge amount of revenue from it.
Luxury brands including Prada, Versace, Burberry and Chanel have all gone fur-free in recent years. When Gucci announced it would drop the material in 2017, fur products accounted for roughly €10 million (about $11.7 million) in sales, less than 0.2 percent of its overall revenue.
Kering declined to provide information on its current volume of fur products or their value. Its fashion brands Gucci, Bottega Veneta, Balenciaga and Alexander McQueen have all already stopped using the material, leaving only Saint Laurent and Brioni to make the change.
“We will lose some customers that were looking for those types of products,” Pinault said. “There’s an impact for sure.” The executive said the company had been working on phasing out fur across its brands since 2017, gradually reducing orders to avoid being “brutal to the supply chain.”
More broadly, the company is positioning its efforts in the context of a changing consumer base that requires luxury to change as well.
“Young consumers and young millennials also expect now that companies pay attention to these values,” said Kering sustainability chief Marie-Claire Daveu, pointing to increasing evidence of the global climate crisis as a driver for action. “Look at what happened this summer; how can you say I don’t care? And if you have the power, how can you say it’s terrible, but I won’t act?”