Armani has long been a global standard of luxury and high fashion. From a humble upbringing in Italy in the 1930s and 40s, Giorgio Armani had no formal training when he started as a designer for Nino Cerruti in 1964. His creation of the “power suit” that was the corporate-fashion emblem during the 1980s skyrocketed his already-prestigious label, and in 1982 he became the first fashion designer to appear on the cover of Time magazine since Christian Dior did in 1957.
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Now, Armani is making history again, in a way that has activists the world over applauding the luxury designer. Armani has, as of March 22, 2016, pledged to never use animal fur again in their designs. The story broke on the website of Humane Society International to global applause.
A Lengthy Luxury History
The use of fur in luxury fashion has a lengthy and storied history. In 1929, women were advised by Vogue to go without jewels, pocket money or everyday clothing, but never to scrimp on fur. Pelt-processing technology made fur available to the masses beginning at the early twentieth century, but increases in demand gave rise to “fur farms”, where animals are kept in horrific conditions and harvested solely for their prized pelts.
While fur has long been a luxury item, it became one that more and more could afford as the twentieth century progressed. Animal-rights groups such as PETA and the Humane Society International have long been entrenched in the wars against the use of fur in fashion (although, contrary to popular belief, PETA does not condone throwing red paint onto people wearing fur coats. They do give fur coats -that have been marked with red paint- to homeless people, and discusses why they practice that here.)
Designers Against Fur
Fashion retailers and luxury designers, largely in response to the “Fur Is Dead” campaign launched by PETA, have responded. Retailers including Kenneth Cole, Ann Taylor, Express, Gap, Banana Republic, Forever 21, American Eagle Outfitters, J.Crew, and Eddie Bauer have stopped selling products that contain fur. Fashion designers Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren, and Stella McCartney have all stopped using fur in their designs.
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Armani, long renowned as the global leader in luxury fashion, is the latest luxury designer to join this illustrious ensemble. The worldwide reception has been incredible.
Why Faux, Why Now?
The reasoning is simple: until now, the substitutes for animal fur were sorely lacking. Recent developments in the design of faux fur creates products that are just as glamorous and luxurious as animal fur. Faux fur has come a long way from its inception as a type of pile fabric, as the debut of Stella McCartney’s faux fur coats last spring demonstrated.
Also, research shows that younger people -the millennial set, specifically- aren’t interested in wearing fur. A survey of over 1000 people aged 19 to 25 showed that 66% aren’t comfortable wearing fur, while 15% said it depended on where the fur came from and 19% said they were comfortable. Given that up to 80% of fur used in fashions sold in the United States started its life on a fur farm in China, that 15% might change its mind rather quickly.
So the latest news from Armani is being heavily applauded by activists, and why shouldn’t it be? We embrace technologies that make our lives better all the time…so why not embrace technologies that make lives better for the other creatures we share the planet with, too? If faux fur is as good for the fashion industry as the latest iPhone upgrade is for the average smartphone user, we might as well join Armani and the rest of the fauxr-ward thinking fashion crowd and welcome faux with open arms.