PETA Claims Victory in Battle Against Use of Fur in Clothing

by Sarah Clark
Fashion School Review Columnist

July 7, 2006

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The Polo Ralph Lauren Corporation recently announced its decision to eliminate fur from its collections. Animal rights organization PETA hailed the move as a victory in its campaign to pressure clothing designers to stop using fur.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has been advocating for animal rights since its founding in 1980. The group's unconventional tactics regularly catch headlines: they've doused runways with red paint, run ad campaigns that portray unflattering images of fur-donning Vogue editor Anna Wintour, and exposed questionable practices in factories where fur is produced. A PETA supporter also launched a tofu pie at clothing designer Oscar de la Renta.

Martha Stewart and PETA

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While PETA may be viewed as a fringe group to some, they have garnered the support of many celebrities including Pink, Pamela Anderson, and Anna Nicole Smith. Martha Stewart even advocates against the use of fur in a video featured on PETA's web site. "I used to wear real fur, but like many others, I had a change of heart when I learned what actually happens to the animals," said the domestic diva.

Other Anti-fur Clothing Designers

Ralph Lauren is not the first clothing design house to banish fur. Stella McCartney has long been a proponent of fur-free fashion. Calvin Klein has also stated its commitment to not using fur. Though these developments show significant progress in the anti-fur effort, the battle to keep fur out of clothing stores is still far from over. In recent years fur has made a comeback of sorts, what with of-the-moment celebrities like Beyonce and Paris Hilton flaunting fur-trimmed fashions.

Politics and Your Career in Fashion

As a fashion school student or aspirant, you probably didn't think politics would figure very prominently in your career in fashion. Indeed, there may be times over the course of your career in fashion when you need to make a tough decision, one informed by principles more than profits. Of course, one could probably make a business case for not using fur--if enough influential celebrities hop on the PETA bandwagon, fur could become the next big fashion faux pas. If such is the case, your decision to stop using fur could make your career in fashion.

Get others in your fashion school involved in the anti-fur movement. If it's something you're passionate about, consider raising awareness among your fashion school peers about the cruel treatment animals endure to satisfy consumer demand for fur clothing designs.


About the Author
Sarah Clark is a freelance writer specializing in career development and postsecondary education.

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