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Prada Bans Fur, as Fashion Bows Again to Ethical Concerns

Robert Williams

One of the fashion industry’s most iconic designers is turning her back on fur.

Miuccia Prada, the creative director and controlling shareholder of Milan-based Prada SpA, said in a statement her company—also the maker of MiuMiu apparel and Church’s shoes—would no longer feature the material starting September with her next runway show.

The brand joins the ranks of labels like Burberry Group Plc, Kering SA’s Gucci, Armani, Versace, and Chanel in giving up the material’s use, bowing to decades-long criticism from animal rights and environmental groups. As consumers become increasingly concerned about the social and environmental impact of fashion, banning fur has become a way for brands to show they’re serious about curbing the industry’s most harmful excesses.

The move makes Prada—who used fur in some of her most notable collections, like spring 2011’s “banana” show—one of the biggest names to agree to an outright ban. She has already experimented with fur alternatives like the plush fabrics from German teddy bear-maker Steiff in recent seasons.

‘New Boundaries’

“Focusing on innovative materials will allow the company to explore new boundaries of creative design while meeting the demand for ethical products,” Prada said Wednesday.

Even as animal welfare concerns have seen fashion’s tide turn against real fur, and cities like San Francisco and Sao Paolo banned its sale, advocates for the material like LVMH’s Fendi brand have insisted that fur farming can be done ethically. Sustainability advocates have also raised questions about the environmental impact of fake furs, arguing the small plastic fibers they shed are not biodegradable and can easily find their way into the water supply when items are cleaned.

Other recent industry measures on animal welfare include Kering SA, requiring suppliers to meet treatment standards for animals used in products like leather handbags and cashmere suits. For suppliers already meeting these requirements, the company said it wants to encourage further improvements like allowing free grazing for cattle or making sure ostriches have enough space to run.

Another effort to clean up fashion’s reputation is France’s decision to spearhead an industry-wide global sustainability effort to lessen the clothing, shoe and accessory makers’ environmental footprint.

There’s also a pact between LVMH and Kering to stop hiring extremely thin models, and Kering’s declaration it would stop hiring models under 18 years of age. Additionally, internal audits on diversity at Gucci and Prada have occurred after the brands released products that criticized as insensitive for resembling blackface imagery.