The main reason given for discontinuing the use of fur is because it’s ‘outdated’ and unfashionable. While there’s a nod to environmentalism and animal welfare, that’s because it’s targeted at the millennial generation.
The focus on whether using fur is ethical or fashionable also masks another reason for not using fur: it’s expensive. It is far easier and economical to mass-produce synthetic materials for insulating clothing or new designs. Making a fur coat, however, is a specialised skill that cannot be carried out in factories, requires skilled labourers to work with the pelts, and anywhere between 40-100 hours on one coat. It is, therefore, naïve to think that the opinions of ethically-minded shoppers were the only factor influencing Gucci’s decision.
Bizzarri himself claimed that he “[needed] to do it because [otherwise] the best talent will not come to work for Gucci” which shows a long-term consideration of what future employees may want from their career. It helps that, according to analysts at Mainfirst Bank, millennials currently make up over half of Gucci’s consumer base. Furthermore, Gucci’s fur profits, -approximately ten million pounds per year- can be substituted with wool or synthetic materials such as faux-fur, so it is a fairly low-risk move.
Some activists may argue that the rationale is irrelevant as long as the company makes some sort of effort to commit to animal welfare. I would say that keeping your eye on the real reason companies perform these PR stunts is important if you wish to influence their decisions more effectively.
It is no good yelling until you’re blue in the face about the ethical implications of wearing fur to amoral organisations designed to make a profit. Companies, are not your friends or allies in these causes and no amount of marketing they throw at you should convince you otherwise.
As for fur itself, it’s ostentatious, impractical to wash and unethical to an increasing number of consumers for it to be worth advertising. No wonder it’s going out of style.