Twenty years ago, I acquired a dark green, double-breasted Hugo Boss suit at a secondhand store in Washington, DC. At the time- two decades younger and still working to define myself - I was proud to be wearing a suit made by a luxury design house. Now, Hugo Boss has once again made me proud by announcing this week that it will be going completely fur free starting with its Fall/Winter 2016 collection.
This decision follows in the footsteps of American Apparel, Esprit, H&M;, Steve Madden, Marks & Spencer, and Topshop - perhaps all brands my daughter has a greater appreciation of than I do - and comes after months of discussions between Hugo Boss and the Fur Free Alliance: a coalition consisting of Born Free USA and 27 other organizations, working to end the fur trade across 40 countries. (For a full list of fur free fashion retailers, click here.)
Hugo Boss is also looking well beyond fur. Again, beginning with its Fall/Winter 2016 line, this fashion powerhouse will stop all use of angora and down feathers from force-fed or live-plucked geese. The company also plans to show preferential treatment to suppliers who do not use the mulesing procedure for wool: a barbaric practice in which wool-covered skin is forcibly and painfully removed from the backside of a sheep to prevent flies from laying eggs in the folds of the skin ("flystrike"). The brand plans to be 90 percent mulesing free by 2020.
In its latest Sustainability Report, Hugo Boss stated that, with these changes, along with supplying faux "friendly" fur and leather products, the company hopes to "inspire the present and especially the next generation with a new kind of luxury."
This is a certain (albeit obvious) step forward: luxury goods that don't involve the cruel, needless deaths of millions of animals. Hugo Boss' decision is a milestone to be acknowledged and celebrated.
But, proud as I am, I must also acknowledge that our fur free fight is far from finished. Just one day before Hugo Boss made its announcement, The New York Times published a story proclaiming that, while controversial, fur is "back in fashion" and that the "animal rights lobby" has lost the "luxury battle." Perhaps The New York Times should have waited a day before calling the battle in favor of the fur industry, as the rebuttal to each one of those arguments can be found in Hugo Boss' Sustainability Report.
This iconic luxury fashion house knows, as we do, that the use of fur in fashion is not merely "controversial"; it is inextricably tied to extreme suffering. The grim truth is that, no matter how you dye, green-wash, or spin it, fur means death. That gruesome fact is just unavoidable.
While that dark green, double-breasted suit may no longer be at the forefront of fashion, the brand that is Hugo Boss has proven itself as progressive, forward-thinking, and compassionately fashionable. Please join me in thanking Hugo Boss via Facebook or on the company's contact page.
Keep Wildlife in the Wild,