‘All will never be right’: report reveals luxury brands lagging behind in animal welfare | Fashion


Despite recent commitments by the luxury fashion industry to reduce its environmental footprint, a report found that luxury fashion brands are among the worst in the industry when it comes to animal welfare, due to their continued use of exotic animal furs and skins.

As fur bans become more common, the Animal Welfare in Fashion report highlights how out of step many luxury brands are with the rest of the industry.

Released on December 6, 2021 by the global animal welfare organization Four Paws, the report assessed 111 brands in different markets, including Australia, on their commitment to animal welfare and transparency of sourcing. . While LVMH-owned Stella McCartney scored the report’s highest score of 90%, the luxury sector overall fares worst, with an average score of just 23% (lower than fashion fast at 53%).

The attitude of the luxury industry towards fur has changed dramatically in 2021. In June, Canada Goose said it would stop using fur by 2022, in September, luxury conglomerate Kering a announced that all of its brands, including Gucci and Balenciaga, would stop using fur and in the same month Oscar de la Renta also agreed to stop using fur, a decision according to the New York Times that was negotiated by the singer Billie Eilish. On December 3, Elle magazine announced that fur would be banned from its editorial and advertising content.

The report found that 57% of the brands assessed have a formal animal welfare policy, a figure that has nearly doubled since the launch of the inaugural report last year.

The best performing fashion category was – unsurprisingly – “sustainability”, with an average score of 76%; closely followed by brands in the “outdoor” category, with an average score of 71%. An Australian brand, streetwear brand Afends, made it into the report’s Top 10.

Sustainably-focused luxury brand Stella McCartney received the highest score in Four Paws’ Animal Welfare in Fashion report, but other luxury houses were ranked lower performing in terms of animal welfare. Photograph: Nils Jorgensen / REX / Shutterstock

Report calls on brands to reduce use of animal products, refine animal-based supply chain choices to encourage higher levels of welfare and replace animal products through sustainable alternatives.

The report drew on the Five Domains Model for Evaluating Brands, which was created by David Mellor, Professor of Animal Welfare Sciences at Massey University. The model measures well-being based on the animal’s mental state, which is affected by its nutrition, physical environment, health status, and behavioral interactions.

The report shares its methodology with Good On You, a website that ranks fashion brands in three areas: people, planet and animals.

According to Good On You CEO Gordon Renouf, to calculate each brand’s animal welfare score, the platform rates brands based on publicly available information in five key areas: whether or not the brand has a welfare policy and how good that policy is; what materials they use and whether or not they are committed to banning exotic skins and furs; what certifications the brand works with; how transparent and traceable their supply chain is; and how solid their governance model is.

They use these metrics to give each brand a rating out of 100, which translates into a rating of: “great”; “Well”; “it’s a beginning”; “Not good enough” and “we avoid”.

Seven luxury brands received a score of 0% and the lowest brand ratings, including Hermès, Prada and Fendi, Louis Vuitton and Dior, owned by LVMH.

According to the report, such a low mark is reserved for brands that have little transparency about their stance on animal welfare, have taken no action to address animal welfare and may use fur, skins exotic and angora.

“A few position statements are not enough,” says Jessica Medcalf, head of global corporate engagement at Four Paws. “We are looking for comprehensive animal welfare policies that have an impact on the ground. “

Four Paws informed each brand that they were being reviewed, explained their score to them, and provided information on areas where they could improve via email. While the report indicates general factors that contribute to a low or high score, it has not released specific details on what led to each individual brand’s failure scores.

The report also noted that some brands with a score of 0% have animal welfare and certified sourcing policies – this is the case for brands owned by LVMH. Others, like Prada, are committed to being furless.

“All the worst performing brands are not exactly the same. They all have different attributes, ”explains Medcalf.

“We can learn a lot from brands that are improving”

Medcalf says they haven’t received a response from companies that scored negative in the report, but she hopes “we can work together to improve their animal welfare standards.”

For all underperforming brands, the continued use of “unacceptable” animal products had “the most negative impact on their scores.”

Medcalf says the report’s criteria are impossible to meet when wild animals like crocodiles or snakes are raised, caged and killed on farms. According to her, “these animals are inherently difficult to rear in such a way as to guarantee a good level of animal welfare”.

According to Medcalf, Hermès – presented as the worst performing – received its rating because it “uses the largest range of animal products in all of our sample of 111 brands” and for “its use of products from of wild animals that have been bred ”.

A Hermès spokesperson said they had “science-based animal welfare policies and a commitment to converge by 2024 towards top-notch certification” and can ensure tight control of the chain supply, in particular the traceability of leather materials.

Regarding their use of crocodile skin – part of which comes from Australian farms owned by the brand – the spokesperson said: “Regarding exotic skins, Hermès has been working with the ICFA (International Crocodilian Farmers Association) for several years. now “.

On its website, Hermès exposes a plan to create the first specific standards for the supply chains of alligator, crocodile and ostrich skins. However, Medcalf says “we don’t think the crocodile industry can ever guarantee a good level of animal welfare.”

She says that’s the case with all non-domesticated animals. “They are wild animals, used to extreme conditions. This means that a farm environment “just will never be OK”.

With regard to domestic animals, the report emphasizes the importance of certifications in promoting animal welfare. Medcalf states that “the main way that brands can take responsibility for animal welfare within their supply chains… is to show that good certification is being applied”.

The report specifically cited the Responsible Wool Standard and the Responsible Down Standard as preferred certifications, among others. Hermès cites that they are heading towards these two standards by 2024.

John Lau, dean of academic strategy at London College of Fashion, critiques the report and methodology. He says it is “not entirely clear because the research results are not published in their entirety.”

Lau says that posting only the best and worst performing brands’ scores is also a missed opportunity, “a lot can be learned from improving brands,” he said, specifically citing Kering’s efforts.

Medcalf says “we withheld most of the scores as we aim to give the majority of brands the space and support to understand and address animal welfare as part of their corporate and social responsibility goals. “.

However, she states that Four Paws intends to publish all brand scores in the next report, and the score will be updated over time on the Good On You platform.

She says the aim of the report is to “compare the progress of the fashion industry” in order to “motivate brands to change” and “at the same time, give us the information we need to be able to help these people. coin marks “.

Lau believes that the onus for change shouldn’t fall solely on brands. “Farms, which are early in the process, need to be held accountable for how their animals, whether raised on demand or as a by-product, are treated.”

Plus, it’s important to have a holistic view of the issues, says Lau. “Reducing reliance on animal materials can improve animal welfare, but it cannot come at the expense of destroying natural habitat to grow more fiber-based plants or the development of polluting synthetic materials that affect wildlife. “

LVMH and Prada were contacted for comment, but had not provided a response at time of posting


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