June 18, 2019 | 68° F

Cruelty-free couture grows with Chanel quitting animal skins

Photo by Instagram |

The fashion industry is turning vegan. Animal rights activists are finally seeing a change, beginning with mogul luxury designer Chanel. Last Monday, the brand called it quits with the use of exotic animal skins in their future designs. 

Bruno Pavlovsky, the president of Chanel fashion and Chanel SAS, explained that it was becoming increasingly difficult to source skins that met the house’s quality and ethical standards in an interview with WWD. 

The issue of supply has turned the company’s focus to the textiles and leathers being generated by “agri-food” industries. Any designs that are strutted across the catwalk, displayed in the showroom or placed on mannequins in stores will be crafted with the expertise of the ateliers. The question is whether the limited supply of skins is causing this ethical change or if the company has become a true animal activist group.

Pavlovsky further explained that ethical and quality outsourcing was a problem, but what led to their decision was the mindfulness of a change needing to be made. 

“We did it because it’s in the air, but it’s not an air people imposed to us. It’s a free choice,” he said.

Now, there will be a few more crocodiles, snakes, stingrays and lizards in their natural habitats due to the ban on their skin. Fur was also included in the list of materials that will no longer be used in the fashion company, but Chanel notes that fur was rarely used in its collections previously.

Regardless of the motive behind Chanel seeking cruelty-free fashion, this change joins the movement toward a vegan fashion industry and can become a catalyst for other companies to do the same. Chanel is not the first to ban skins, they are only catching up to changes other fashion houses have made.

High-end brands like Michael Kors, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Jimmy Choo and Burberry have already acknowledged the significance of being cruelty-free. In an interview with CNN in 2015, Stella McCartney — who runs a completely vegetarian company — talked about real fur. "It's not relevant, it's not sexy, it's not fashionable and it's not cool,” she said. 

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is celebrating the change. For years, it has addressed the issues of sustainability and animal rights to Chanel and companies alike. 

PETA exposed the brutal skinning process used on animals, while they were still alive, to supply industries like fashion. Snakes are nailed to trees, lizards are decapitated, alligators are shot and slammered with hammers into paralyzation. During the process of becoming material for the next best-selling handbag, it may take hours for the animals to die.

How will loyal consumers react to cruelty-free changes? It is no secret that animal prints and skins have been best-sellers in the industry for decades. But faux furs have become the leading alternative to the authentic textures by high-end fast fashion companies. 

In order for Chanel — or any other company that follows the cruelty-free standard — to continue to grow in profits, the focus should be to maintain the quality of the faux material. 

There will always be supporters and critics among consumers, but the ethical decision is the right change because the concern of profit variability will not make as much of an impact as the industry transformation.

Today’s generation has spoken loudly on all social injustices like diversity, inclusivity, animal cruelty and more. Makeup brands have already made big changes to the ingredients used in supplying their products. And, although the practice may not be brought to an end, the growing acceptance of using inauthentic animal skins is already on the rise. 

Jade Chandler

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