The calculation of luxury furs: to ban or not to ban? | This week in fashion, BoF Professional


At the Fendi show in Milan on Wednesday, models paraded the catwalk in ’70s disco-inspired glamor, punctuated by the decadent furs for which the LVMH-owned brand is known. Less than 48 hours later, the group’s big rival, Kering, announced that he was getting rid of the fur.

While not so long ago the statement would have been considered radical, today what is most remarkable perhaps is how clearly it contrasts with the approach taken by LVMH. .

Kering never sold large volumes of fur in the first place and its brands have phased out materials from their products for years, with Gucci cash cow declaring fur outdated in 2017. The group’s decision to going entirely furless (only Saint Laurent and Brioni still sold fur) aligns all of its brands with a broader market trend that has seen fur fall out of fashion, rocked by declining consumer interest, the animal rights activism and government action to ban its sale and production in several places. California became the first state to ban fur in 2019, while Israel became the first country to ban the material, except for religious observances, earlier this year.

The pandemic has only accentuated the decline in fur. A Covid-19 outbreak at mink farms in Denmark resulted in a government-mandated slaughter that effectively wiped out the industry of the world’s largest producer of mink skins.

Luxury brands like Prada, Versace, Burberry and Chanel have all said they would ditch fur years ago, taking a relatively small hit on sales, while scoring plenty of PR points. But the world’s largest luxury group, LVMH, has been silent on the subject. The same goes for many of its brands, which generally operate with greater independence than Kering’s labels under a federation-type model.

Will LVMH ever give up fur?

The math for the luxury giant is more complicated than for many other luxury companies. Several LVMH labels do not use fur, although they rarely advertise it. (A notable exception is the famous anti-fur Stella McCartney, in which LVMH acquired a minority stake in 2019). On the other hand, the group’s biggest brands, including the giants Dior and Louis Vuitton, systematically include fur in their collections. For Fendi, another major contributor to the group’s turnover, which began as a furrier in 1925, the material is at the very heart of its heritage and its legitimacy as a luxury house.

Meanwhile, public proclamations against fur by other LVMH brands, although they may sell little or no fur, would likely give momentum to calls from advocacy groups to ban the material altogether, as would the statements. other luxury players have done so, isolating the likes of Dior and Fendi on the issue.

“As long as Fendi is part of this group and Fendi is closely associated with fur, it will be a long time before LVMH gets rid of fur,” said PJ Smith, fashion policy director at Humane. Society.

For other companies less closely linked to the subject, the equation is very different. Dropping the material can lead to a positive PR stunt for brands, especially among young, socially conscious consumers, while having limited negative impact on the bottom line.

When Gucci announced it was going to do without fur in 2017, the material accounted for around € 10 million in sales, or around 0.2% of revenue. The brand’s Instagram post announcing the news was among its top performing posts at the time, gaining nearly 180,000 likes. Kering declined to provide details on the current value of fur sales within the group.

For Kering, the move is also in line with its broader corporate strategy of defining its luxury brand as ‘benevolent’ (a key part of its 2013 decision to switch from PPR to Kering) and embracing a cadre of ethical and environmentally friendly business practices. that resonates with an increasingly value-conscious consumer.

“This is the new definition that we must understand very well,” said Managing Director François-Henri Pinault. “Through this objective, certain materials have no place in luxury.

While that’s not a stance LVMH is likely to take anytime soon, the luxury group has quietly made adjustments that signal changing attitudes towards fur. It has strict animal welfare sourcing standards in place and appointed an external committee of experts to assess improvement efforts. Some brands have tried to work with alternatives to faux fur.

Fendi renamed its Couture Week show in 2018 to haute couture rather than haute fur. He gave less importance to the material on the catwalk and began to experiment with recycled fur.

But perhaps one of the biggest obstacles to any major change in LVMH’s stance on fur is that the debate has not affected its bottom line. The group’s fashion division made a strong comeback from the pandemic, fueled by sales of Louis Vuitton, Dior and Fendi furs.

Information: LVMH is part of a group of investors who together hold a minority stake in Fashion trade. All investors have signed a shareholder documentation guaranteeing BoF’s full editorial independence.

NEWS IN BRIEF

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PEOPLE

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Compiled by Joan Kennedy.


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