Amidst animal rights body protest, Gucci drops fur as luxury

Italian fashion house Gucci plans to drop animal fur from its collections, showing how concerns about responsible business practices that originated with the Birkenstock brigade have galvanized an industry known for its celebration of excess.

The Milan-based maker of $1,000 fur-lined slippers, part of French luxury conglomerate Kering, will sell its remaining fur items in a charity auction, the company said in a statement Thursday, citing the “deprivation and cruelty suffered by fur-bearing animals.”

The move, effective next spring, comes as high-end brands join consumer-goods giants like Unilever and Nestle SA in responding to growing ethical, environmental and social awareness among consumers, especially millennials. The luxury industry’s use of animal skins has become a touchstone of these concerns for protesters who have flocked to fashion shows around the world.

Gucci’s move to drop fur follows increased scrutiny of its behind-the-scenes practices, ranging from factory conditions to the treatment of runway models. Kering and Paris-based rival LVMH last month agreed to curb the use of ultra-skinny and underage models.

Gucci follows other Italian companies, like Giorgio Armani SpA and luxury e-commerce platform Yoox Net-a-Porter Group SpA, in dropping fur. LVMH, the world’s largest luxury-goods maker, is aiming to get almost one-third of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020, the company announced last month.

Kering, whose Stella McCartney brand has long advocated the use of synthetic leather in footwear, has said it wants to eliminate hazardous chemicals from its supply chain by 2020 and make sure all of its leather, gold and diamonds can be traced to company-approved sources by 2025.

In 2015, actress Jane Birkin asked Hermes International to remove her name from its iconic handbags after videos of alleged mistreatment surfaced from a crocodile farm in Texas that supplies the company. She later dropped the request.

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