LONDON―Ahead of Fashion Weeks in New York, London, Milan and Paris, the largest ever global anti-fur consumer campaign has been launched to urge fashion house Max Mara to go fur-free. The campaign is headed by animal charities Humane Society International, the Humane Society of the United States and the Fur Free Alliance comprising organizations in more than 35 countries. Campaigners are asking their millions of supporters and compassionate citizens from the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, South Korea, the European Union and the United States to target Max Mara’s phone lines, email and social media urging the design house to drop fur because it is cruel, out-dated and has no place in a modern society.
Max Mara, which has 2,500+ stores in 105 countries―of which 39 are in the United States― is one of the last major fur users and its current range includes items made of fox, raccoon dog and mink fur. Max Mara fur products include fox fur cuffs, a mink trimmed hood, a fox fur trimmed hood, mink mittens and a raccoon dog fur charm, and product labels show the company uses mink fur from China plus fox and raccoon dog fur from Finland.
Max Mara’s use of fur is increasingly out of mode considering that most of the world’s major fashion-houses have already gone fur-free, including Dolce & Gabbana, Saint Laurent, Valentino, Prada, Gucci, Versace, Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga and Jimmy Choo. Many other designers and retailers have long-standing policies against using fur, including Hugo Boss, Armani, Tommy Hilfiger, Stella McCartney and Vivienne Westwood.
PJ Smith, director of fashion policy at Humane Society International and the Humane Society of the United States, said: “Max Mara is one of the last global fashion brands that continues to support the vile fur trade, despite clear evidence that the fur industry is cruel, bad for the environment and a risk to public health. By doing so, Max Mara is increasingly isolated in a world where the vast majority of consumers find fur obscene. We hope that Max Mara stops being an apologist for the fur trade and instead decides to strike a pose for compassionate fashion by going fur-free.”
Mink, fox and raccoon dogs―all species used by Max Mara―are bred to die on fur factory farms where they spend their entire lives in cramped, barren cages, deprived of the ability to engage in natural behaviors, only to be crudely gassed or anally electrocuted and then skinned.
Fur production is also environmentally devastating and a risk to public health. Peer-reviewed research by carbon footprint experts Foodsteps and commissioned by HSI shows that, when compared to other materials, per kilogram fur has the highest greenhouse gas emissions, with the carbon footprint of 1kg of mink fur 31 times higher than that of cotton and 25 times higher than polyester. Fur factory farms are also breeding grounds for zoonotic diseases like COVID-19 and avian influenza, with hundreds of confirmed outbreaks on fur farms across Europe and North America in the last several years. All this while quality, animal-friendly alternative fabrics, such as KOBA® Fur Free Fur which incorporates plant based and recycled ingredients, are readily available and sold by Max Mara’s competitors.
The most recent and largest ever undercover investigation of fur farms was conducted in six EU countries―including Finland, the country from which Max Mara sources its fox and raccoon dog fur. During summer and autumn 2023, investigators made more than 100 visits to fur farms resulting in shocking photo and video evidence. Mink, foxes and raccoon dogs were shown in horrifying conditions in which incidences of cannibalism were documented. Animals on the farms were also shown injured, diseased, with some either dead or dying. Some had missing limbs, tails or ears and/or had serious eye infections, wounds infested with maggots and disturbing instances of self-mutilation.
Tens of millions of animals suffer and die each year in the global fur trade. The majority of the animals killed for fur are reared in barren battery cages on fur farms.
Mink on more than 480 fur farms across 13 countries have been found infected with COVID-19, and fur farms in Spain and Finland have had outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (H5N1). The potential for zoonotic disease spread on fur farms has been acknowledged by the World Health Organization and leading virologists have recently warned governments to “consider the mounting evidence suggesting fur farming be eliminated in the interest of pandemic preparedness.”
Fur farming has been banned in 20 European countries including the 15 Member States of Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Slovakia and Slovenia and five other European nations of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Norway, United Kingdom, North Macedonia and Serbia. Additionally, Switzerland and Germany have strict welfare regulations which have effectively ended fur farming.
In the United States, there are fur sales bans in the state of California and in the following 14 towns or cities: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Berkeley and West Hollywood in California; Lexington, Cambridge, Plymouth, Brookline, Weston and Wellesley in Massachusetts; the borough of Etna in Pennsylvania, and the cities of Ann Arbor in Michigan; Boulder, Colorado; Hallandale Beach, Florida. Israel became the first country to ban fur sales in 2021.
Download video/photos of Finnish fur farms here, credit Humane Society International.
- Wendy Higgins