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Kayla Marci

July 26, 2021

Why retailers' future lies in faux fur

With more brands phasing out fur, how have animal-free alternatives evolved across the mass and luxury market?

COVID ended fur farming in Denmark while selling skins for fashion is banned in California and Israel. With the UK exploring similar legislative options and prestigious brands repeatedly dropping it from their collections, fur is swiftly falling out of favor. 

As ethical consumers align themselves with brands that share their values, discover how faux fur has accelerated and how to invest.

faux fur

Top-tier brands are making the switch

Though the luxury market is synonymous with animal hides, countless designers have pivoted away from using real fur in their products to appeal to the modern consumer who no longer views it as a status symbol. This year alone, Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Canada Goose, Moose Knuckles, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Valentino have all pledged to forego using animal pelts.

Stella McCartney, which has been fur and feather free since its inception, used its Pre-Fall 2021 collection as a call to ban fur. The designer is also asking international change-makers to sign Humane Society International's Stop Deadly Fur petition, prohibiting fur farming.

The data points to a rise

COVID's impact on deliveries lead to a 15% drop in Fall/Winter 2020 arrivals compared to 2019. However, new data indicates faux fur is poised for a comeback. Since the start of 2021, there's been an 82% YoY lift in arrivals across the mass and luxury market, propelling the number of new styles up 16% vs. 2019. This upwards trajectory is forecasted to continue as retailers land more cold weather styles, anticipating a lockdown-free winter with consumers seeking plush fabrications to bundle up in outdoors.

faux fur

As faux alternatives rise, the number of real fur options at luxury players dwindles. Over the past two years, real fur stocked on designers' own sites has declined. The data for 2021 revealed a 23% drop YoY, down 29% since 2019 of items containing fox, rabbit, mink and other furs. This trend will undoubtedly continue as premium sites are refusing to stock fur and luxury brands' shift in strategies will spike innovation in new materials that are both sustainable and cruelty-free.

faux fur

Plant-based materials are mushrooming

Vegan alternatives may be cruelty-free. However, they aren't inherently sustainable, with retailers predominantly subbing animal materials for plastic. 70% of the outerwear containing faux fur in the mass market is described as using non-recycled polyester in its care and composition.

While retailers have been innovating with plant-based materials like mushrooms, cactus' and pineapples as eco and animal-friendly leathers, such alternatives in fur haven't been as widely reported. Standing out as an opportunity and an investment area, we round up some best practices.

Ecopel

The faux fur manufacturer, which works with Stella McCartney and Calcaterra, stands out as the market leader. It replicates the softness, warmth and durability of fur with recycled, energy-reduced and bio-based materials.

Recycled alternatives

Unreal Fur uses PET recycled water bottles and fabric scraps to create new products. In the mass market, Vero Moda, Monki and Marks & Spencer have achieved teddy bear textures using recycled polyester.

Natural materials

Sustainable Italian designer Tiziano Guardini has experimented with hemp, straw and pine needles to create soft, fuzzy fabrics in past collections. Hemp is also a mainstay in Unreal Fur's compositions.

Mimicking texture

To create the illusion of hair and fur, KSENIASCHNAIDER and ISKO have previously used shredded denim. Balenciaga recently replicated fur and feathers with embroidered silk. Organza and silk offcuts to make "fur" have also been seen at Calcaterra.

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Images via Instagram - Ecopel; Monki; Instagram - Unreal Fur; Balenciaga Couture Fall 2021

Price points are more accessible

The prestige associated with animal skins and fur results in a higher price point attached to goods. Real fur isn't as common in the mass market as luxury. Yet, animal products in outerwear such as wool still command a higher entry, average and exit price point than faux fur styles. In the US, EXPRESS currently stocks the highest priced item containing faux fur - a parka with a removable furry hood. In the UK, it's & Other Stories' full-length faux fur coat.

faux fur

Unsurprisingly, the entry, average and exit price point of real fur significantly eclipses faux. Outerwear prices exit at just under $50,000 in the US due to mink coats stocked at Louis Vuitton. The use of faux fur makes luxury outerwear more accessible, with the lowest entry price in the US, currently seen at Michael Kors using faux fur trim on denim jackets. In the UK, Stella McCartney's teddy jackets command a much higher entry price, currently at £950.00.

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It's a key texture for fall 2021 & beyond

Due to fur's overwhelming presence on the catwalk, retailers should have new faux styles available now or arriving soon for fall/winter. If not - don't panic! Recent presentations have secured this material's longevity for future seasons. The continuation of the Softcore trend was woven throughout collections at Moschino and Coach, which promoted plush fabrics and furry trims. 70s nostalgia remained relevant, greenlighting shaggy furs and longline coats for a vegan upgrade.

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Images via Coach Pre-Spring 2022; Rag & Bone Pre-Spring 2022; Vivetta Pre-Spring 2022; Dior Homme Spring 2022

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