Kate Byng-Hall reports as controversial luxury brand announces they’re replacing wild fur with a reclaimed alternative.
Photo by Fran
The luxury coat maker Canada Goose Holdings Inc. has announced their intention to become fur-free, ceasing to purchase the material by the end of 2021 and ending manufacture of fur garments altogether by the end of 2022. Going forward, they will only use reclaimed fur in their products.
Canada Goose has been the subject of controversy and outrage for many years, being consistently targeted by activists - especially those representing People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) - for its continued use of fur in their garments despite clear ethical issues surrounding the practice.
A Cruel Practice
For years, Canada Goose has used wild coyote fur to trim their expensive garments, trapping the animals using leg-hold traps which are banned across the EU due to animal cruelty concerns, despite being legal in Canada. They also stuff their coats with geese feathers from birds which, according to a PETA exposé, are kept in cruel and inhumane conditions.
The condemnation of the brand by activists is not only due to their use of fur, however, but the ethics behind how they did so. Canada Goose stated back in 2019 that they abided by the standards of Canada's Agreement of International Humane Trapping Standards (AIHTS), which stipulates that at least 80% of animals trapped should not be subjected to “excessive immobility and unresponsiveness”, amputation or death in the process.
The brand has stated in the past that they it did not regard trapping animals for fur as intrinsically cruel, stating that “we believe all animals are entitled to humane treatment in life and death, and we are deeply committed to the ethical sourcing and responsible use of all animal materials in our products”.
Despite this, due to inconsistent implementation of the legislation in some states, there are concerns that some of the coyotes trapped for use in Canada Goose’s products were victims of greater cruelty than the AIHTS would allow.
In fact, in 2015, Animal Justice Canada filed a complaint with the Competition Bureau of Canada arguing that Canada Goose’s claim that all their coyote fur is “humane” was misleading. The group stated that “by claiming the fur trim on its jackets come from humanely trapped coyotes, Canada Goose is preying on ethically conscious consumers”. While the complaint was rejected, the brand’s reputation was tarnished.
“I don't think a reasonable person who learns what degree of suffering the law allows for could ever possibly say that Canada Goose's trapping practices are 'humane.' [That] word is most often used in connection with humane societies, which of course are places of compassion, not ones of suffering and death.” – Camille Labchuk, Animal Justice legal director (as of 2015)
Turning a New Leaf
The removal of all fur from Canada Goose’s products by the end of next year coincides with similar commitments from other brands including Gucci and Michael Kors. Since the announcement, PETA has stated that they will end their campaign against the brand, but will continue to request it ceases to use goose feathers in its products.
“When it comes to brand growth, it’s more about the younger generation, and there are so many more vegans in the world. This is really a great example of brand evolution for Canada Goose.” – Farla Efros, president of HRC Retail Advisory
These changes signal a shift in the mindset of both consumer and regulatory boards to value ethics and animal welfare over luxurious fashion statements. One senses that it’s only a matter of time before no more animals are killed for their fur at all.
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