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Luxury brands Michael Kors and Jimmy Choo adopt fur-free strategy

The power of Millennial consumers was underlined on Friday, as Michael Kors became the latest company to say it would go fur-free. It means the firm’s assorted Kors labels and its newly acquired Jimmy Choo brand will launch fur-free product next year, with fur completely phased out for all of the brands by the end of 2018.

That’s quite a big deal, given the highest-end Kors catwalk line has been a big user of fur. But the biggest Kors customer group is no longer necessarily the ultra high-spending consumer who drove fur back into fashion acceptance during this century. Today, its more affordable premium bags, watches and other products are bought into more heavily by Millennials.

These consumers may not be heavily involved in the extreme end of anti-fur protest (despite Kors having been the subject of such protests in recent periods), but they do see fur as non-negotiable. It just doesn’t figure in their fashion calculations.

Kors CEO John D Idol said: “This decision marks a new chapter as our company continues to evolve its use of innovative materials.”

In the statement announcing the move, Michael Kors also said the company has the tech to produce luxury product without fur. “Due to technological advances in fabrications, we now have the ability to create a luxe aesthetic using non-animal fur. We will showcase these new techniques in our upcoming runway show in February.”

The improvement in faux-fur materials has been particularly noticeable in recent seasons whether it’s Miu Miu’s use of mohair to line its slides where once it might have been real fur, or straight synthetic fur lookalikes that do a remarkably convincing job for a basket for brands from the mass-market to the luxury segment.

Labels have been going fur-free faster than ever this year, although some are still treading a path between usage and non-usage. Prada’s A/W 17/18 collection, for instance, includes ‘fur’ trims with both a real and faux option.

Gucci was the biggest name to reject fur this year, but fur-free now also includes Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Yoox-Net-A-Porter, Selfridges, Zara, H&M, Armani, Topshop, Scotch & Soda, Timberland, The North Face and Napapijri.

Aside from materials technology improvements, it’s the consumer mindset that’s the key driving force here. Survey after survey has shown consumers, especially Millennials, increasingly expect part of their own ‘doing good’ efforts to come through the products they buy. This means they want the companies from which they buy to be ethically active, with helping animals via initiatives such as conservation projects on the agenda, rather than using their skins.

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