In October, a group of leading young fashion designers, including Hannah Weiland of Shrimps, Molly Goddard, and Faustine Steinmetz, wrote to students at Central Saint Martins urging them not to use fur in their collections. "Fortunately, in order to be a success in the fashion world, you don't need to contribute to the barbaric treatment of animals practised by the fur industry", they wrote. And of course, they're right - taking a stand against real fur has never been more on trend. From icons such as Michelle Obama and Carla Bruni-Sarkozy to some of the world's best-loved stars - like Penélope Cruz, Kate Winslet, and Miley Cyrus - everyone who's anyone has spoken out against it.
In less enlightened times, when no one realised that it was déclassé and insensitive to wear the skin of tortured animals, fur wasn't yet taboo. When the first "I'd Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur" campaign launched in 1990, fur farming was legal in the UK, and Stella McCartney, with her compassionate no-fur, no-leather stance, was told that she "definitely wouldn't have a business". (Ha! McCartney is now the most Googled name in fashion.)
Protests across every continent, celebrity-fronted campaigns, and exposé after exposé have had a huge effect. Decades ago, people could claim ignorance - but now that's impossible. Today, anyone with an internet connection can see footage and images of animals on fur farms who spend their lives confined to tiny wire cages, often with scant to no protection from the snow and sleet in wintertime or the scorching summer sun. Many animals go insane from the confinement and resort to endless circling in cages or gnawing at their own limbs. When their short lives come to an end, it's often through painful anal electrocution, neck-breaking, drowning, or strangulation - before their skin is pulled off and treated with polluting chemicals to stop it from rotting.
It's hardly surprising then that a 2011 poll found that 95 percent of the British public refuses to wear real fur - or that it's virtually impossible to find real fur on the British high street. Compassionate retailers such as Topshop, H&M, River Island, and Marks & Spencer and department stores like Liberty and Selfridges refuse to support the bloody fur industry. (And they know, of course, that only a small handful of callous clients would choose to buy it).
Sustainability is the new buzz-word in fashion, and sustainability sells. That's why when McCartney unveiled her new campaign, she chose to plaster it with the slogan "No leathers, feathers or fur". It's also no doubt why in March, Italian powerhouse Armani joined the likes of McCartney, Vivienne Westwood, Ralph Lauren, and Calvin Klein in declaring itself fur-free, stating that it's taking steps to reflect "our attention to the critical issues of protecting and caring for the environment and animals ".
The fashion industry is one of the most creative and influential industries in the world. It is about moving forward - and more than ever, it's defined by conscious consumers and innovative designers' cutting-edge, sustainable, and animal-friendly collections. Today's "must-have" pieces do not support one iota of cruelty - and it has never been more en vogue to be anti-fur. So this Fur-Free Friday (25 November), I'm saying it loud and proud: I wouldn't be caught dead in fur - and I know that most of you feel exactly the same way.Suggest a correction