In 2019, the biannual Stockholm Fashion Week was canceled due to “major challenges” in meeting demands for more sustainable and innovative clothing. The show made its return last week as a virtual event amid the COVID-19 pandemic, now completely fur and exotic leather-free.
For three days, Stockholm Fashion Week highlighted Swedish brands and designers. The Swedish Fashion Association, the event’s new organizer, announced the ban, a result of campaign efforts from international animal rights organization, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals).
Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden opened the event from her home at Haga Palace, calling herself a “proud wearer of Swedish fashion.”
In her speech, the Crown Princess highlighted the importance of creating a more sustainable fashion industry: “Now, with the challenges ahead of us, it is not only the clothes you make that need to be innovative; but how you make them as well as how they are sold, distributed, worn and eventually recycled.”
Fur Fashion, The Planet, and Public Health
The fur industry has come under fire not only for its treatment of animals but also its environmental impact. A 2011 study of mink fur farms by environmental consultancy CE Delft found that fur has a higher environmental impact compared to other textiles, including cotton, acrylic, and polyester. Faux fur is often made from the latter two materials. According to the study, one mink fur coat has a bigger impact than five faux fur coats. The study analyzed 18 factors, from feed for the animals to the chemicals used to process fur.
The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed that fur farms may also pose a danger to public health. Two Dutch fur farms experienced an outbreak in April. Experts found that the minks were first exposed to the virus through infected humans before passing the virus along to humans.
The Netherlands is one of the world’s top exporters of mink fur for coats and trim. The farms culled more than 500,000 minks as a result of the outbreak. NPR reports that by June, the virus had spread to 17 farms. Minks, which are solitary and territorial creatures, are kept in cramped wire cages. The nature of farms makes it easy for the virus to spread.
Fashion Week Goes Fur-Free
Stockholm Fashion Week is not the first in the industry to go fur-free. Multiple events, including London Fashion Week, Helsinki Fashion Week, Amsterdam Fashion Week, and Oslo Fashion Week have banned fur.