Fashion labels deny sourcing from horror fur farms in Spain

Wednesday, 17 September 2014
“As you read this, millions of animals are suffering so that the clothing industry may sell coats, boots and other garments made from their fur. Some of the worst cruelty occurs on rabbit farms in Catalonia, Spain — and their furs wind up at major retailers across the United States, ” warns EndFashionCruelty.org, which is part of an ongoing campaign from non-profit animal organizations Last Chance for Animals and Animal Equality, to raise awareness surrounding the animal cruelty behind the fur industry in Spain.

Leading fashion labels accused of purchasing fur from cruelty farms

LCA and Animal Equality launched their online campaign last week, which is based around a two-year investigation of 70 rabbit fur farms in Spain and brings to light the cruelty involved in the fur trade. The campaign names several leading fashion houses such as Burberry, Giorgio Armani and Louis Vuitton as clients from the farms and calls on them to take responsibility for the cruelty.

According to the campaign, undercover investigators witnessed rabbits confined to a tiny cages with unstable flooring for their entire two year lives and farms workers “callously bashing sick rabbits to death.” The investigators also recorded “crippled, diseased and severely wounded rabbits [that] left to suffer with no medical treatment,” using hidden cameras amongst other acts of abuse and cruelty.

The two organizations taped conversations with Francisco Cuberes Escola, the owner of the fur distributor Curticub, and Lidia Nogue, an associate of the fur distributor Galaico Catalana, who stated that Burberry, Diane von Furstenberg, Marc Jacobs, Dior, Giorgio Armani, Yves Saint Laurent and Louis Vuitton were all clients and had purchased fur from the farms that were investigated.

“Investigation after investigation of fur farms across the world all reveals the same thing – that animals suffer at the hands of a violent and bloody industry,” explained Peta UK spokesperson Hannah Levitt FashionUnited. “Fashion houses that use fur from rabbits or any animals are responsible for the confinement of gentle, social individuals and for depriving them of a life of doing anything that comes naturally to them, such as feeling the grass beneath their feet, foraging for food and raising a family.”

Burberry, Yves Saint Laurent and Dior deny claims

Since the campaign site, which features uncover film footage as well as petition to the aforementioned fashion labels asking them to “discontinue making garments from animal fur, and instead use synthetic materials that offer a similar feel,” launched, a number of the fashion houses in question have responded to the animal-rights organizations claims. A spokesperson for Burberry stressed that the fashion house has “no relationship with the farms featured” and adds that the company is “sure that Curticub is not part of [its] supply chain.”

“Burberry strongly condemns the practices shown in the footage which demonstrates cruel and illegal behaviour. Burberry sources all natural raw materials very carefully in our efforts to safeguard the correct ethical standards in line with our Ethical Trading policy. Burberry will not use fur if there is concern that its production has involved the unacceptable treatment of animals.”

French luxury label Christian Dior spokeswoman also denied the claims brought forward in the campaign, stating: “The House of Dior has never had any dealings with the company involved in these facts. The House of Dior is deeply shocked by the documented images, which are against our values and practices. The House of Dior emphasizes that all of its products made of fur fully respect the EU guidelines.”

On Tuesday, a Saint Laurent spokeswoman spoke to British Vogue, regarding the label's own internal investigations based off of the report from LCA and Animal Equality. “Following in-depth investigations, we can confirm that Saint Laurent is not connected in any way, either directly or indirectly, to Curticub. Saint Laurent teams are continuously working to find ways to ensure high standards of animal welfare. In line with its sustainability commitment, Saint Laurent has developed specific 'fur guidelines' which are systematically distributed to direct suppliers.”

End Fashion Cruelty campaign demands fashion labels halt all fur sales

"Even though we contacted the fashion brands several times before and after the presentation of the investigation (giving them 3 weeks to get back to us before the launch), at no point did the brands in question reply satisfactorily, denying their relation with Curticub or Galaico Catalana," added Sharon Nuńez, executive director at LCA. "Some of the brands responding now (whilst the issue is currently on the press) makes us doubt the veracity of their claims, especially when taking into account the amount of detail the supplier goes into."

"At the same time, we have evidence linking Yves Saint Laurent, Giorgio Armani and Marc Jacobs to rabbit fur in Spain, after investigating 70 farms in Spain and pressing charges against all of them, and taking into account that no European community legislation lays down specific welfare standards for commercial rabbit production, we feel we can safely say that the mistreatment of these animals is standard practice," added Nuńez. "Our response to the fashion label's denial, is we will continue contacting the companies whilst trying to engage in a conversation with them to stop using fur."

Whether the fashion labels in question will cut down on their use of fur remains to be seen, as the fur trend has witnessed a resurgence over the past few seasons on the catwalk, with fashion labels such as Alexander McQueen, Christopher Kane, Roksanda Ilincic incorporating it in their designs. But the continual rejection of the majority of consumers to wear fur and leading fur-free designers such as Stella McCartney, Vivienne Westwood and Betsey Johnson demonstrates the growing market for animal cruelty free fashion. “Compassionate consumers know that there is no such thing as humane fur, which is why 95 percent of Brits refuse to wear it and why designers with a conscience refuse to work with it,” concludes Levitt.

Images: From Animal Equality

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