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Tim Gunn hopes for fur-free future

February 17, 2009

USA/Tim Gunn, famous for urging contestants on the reality show Project Runway to “make it work”, has a new message for the fashion industry: Take Responsibility. 

Gunn, also the creative director of Liz Claiborne Inc and a former chair of the Department of Fashion Design at Parsons, is working with PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, to spread the word that wearing clothing made from animal products is cruel.

People “have a responsibility to know about this. And if you’re going to use fur, you at least need to know which fur sources are less abusive than others, and if you have to use fur, then go to those sources first.”

Gunn is the narrator for the group’s latest video, called “Fashion Victims,” which among other things shows graphic footage of rabbits and snakes being skinned.

“There are such incredibly believable alternatives now, I don’t see any reason to use real fur,” Gunn said on Tuesday in New York at the height of New York’s semi-annual Fashion Week. “With so many great alternatives, why would you buy the real thing? Why would you? I just don’t understand it.”

Gunn hopes that showing the film will lead designers to think twice before they use fur.

Several notable designers, including Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger no longer use fur. Most others are open to conversations or debates about the use of fur, Gunn said, but there are a few that won’t listen, and for those, Gunn said more aggressive tactics may be necessary.

For example, PETA is planning a demonstration this evening outside a gala event for a new Armani store on Fifth Avenue. According to PETA, Giorgio Armani promised the group he would no longer use fur in his clothing designs but then used rabbit hides. About two dozen people dressed up as “rabbits” are planning to gather outside the store.

“At this point in the relationship with Armani and the level of discussions, it may need something that will wake people up,” Gunn said. 

A spokeswoman for Armani could not immediately be reached.

a full list of fashion brands that don’t use fur.



A list of designers that have caved to PETA’s agenda of ‘no animal use’, preferring instead to rely on petro products which cause much more widespread suffering.

Dandy. Now I know which companies I won’t be dealing with–the ones who wussed out and went PETA.

Fur produced humanely is humane, period. Most of the ‘oh look it’s being skinned alive’ pictures are of DEAD ANIMALS which are still twitching reflexively, same as the ‘being butchered alive’ garbage.

Insisting on humanely produced product is one thing…but twisting the facts to forward your agenda is just plain wrong.

Mr. Gunn should be ashamed of himself!

Posted by onafixedincome | Report as abusive

@onafixedincome: The fur-free list cited is produced by the Humane Society of the United States.

Animal fur production involves a good deal of oil– most obviously to fuel trapline vehicles: trucks, ATV’s, and snowmobiles (many of which are two-stroke and burn a gas-oil mixture).

The raccoon dog skinning footage that many people have seen is of an animal not only alive, but conscious as well.

Posted by Pierre | Report as abusive

It is astounding that anyone in this day and age would wear fur. It goes far beyond the issue of whether animals are humanely treated in their demise. The bigger concern is why any human being in this day and age would have a such an inflated self-image as to justify killing an innocent creature for a primative form of adornment. The message that a fur coat advertises is, “My sense of self-importance and lack of compassion stops and nothing, and is demonstrated in my apparel.”

Posted by Janet Eisenhour | Report as abusive

@ onafixedincome: are you for real?
what the deal to live in a world that is good for the environment, but kills 30 millions of animals to make coats?
if you don’t care about animal wellfare, that’s sad for you and most of all for them, but please try to bring some cleaver points that are well thought, instead of telling us what the fur industry just put in your brain. The real fur industry is also very polluting, because of the dejections of millions of animals that go into the ground, and also because lots of them are treated with chemicals too.

Posted by arno | Report as abusive

50 million animals die every year in the fur industry, but food production claims 900 BILLION animal lives a year. You can’t argue that fur is an unnecessary luxury product, unless you say the same thing about meat: Meat, just as fur (and thousands of other products), isn’t essential for survival, and the animals killed in the fur industry is a drop in the ocean in the big picture. So all the fur hype is so hypocritical, but well marketed by organisations such as PETA and HSUS.

I don´t think it goes beyond animal welfare. We are people, of course we use animals. Animal welfare can – and should – be measured. How the animals think, however, cannot be measured, but a lot of people think animals have the same preferences as human beings and that is simply wrong. Don’t turn animals into Disney figures. Treat them well while they live and kill them in a humane way, for fur or for meat – there is really no difference.

And by the way, fur is certainly in fashion:

Posted by Larsen | Report as abusive

Hi everyone, I must say I agree with what Larsen wrote. I like wearing fur and I think there is nothing wrong with it if it has been produced in a responsible way. Have any of you heard about the Origin Assured (OA) label ( To make sure that the animals used in my garments were treated as good as possible, I only wear garments that come with that label. It guarantees me that the natural fabric comes from a country where strict standards regarding fur production are in place. And fur is indeed the hottest fabric of this season… and the warmest one too! Kind regards, Nika Pika

Posted by Nika Pika | Report as abusive

Humans are animals. Humans are also expendable. Surely, if i were to subscribe to the pro-fur arguments above, I should be able to capture and/or humanely raise humans for the purpose of growing hair and skin. I could then humanely slaughter the humans, scalp and skin their carcass’ and sell hair ‘hats’ and hide clothing and adornments at a nice profit. I’m sure it would be all the rage with fashion slaves around the globe.
Killing a sentient being for profit or personal adornment is not only gratuitous, it’s simply barbaric. Trying to justify it by saying ‘oh but look how many are killed for…’ is not a satisfactory argument. It may alleviate some guilt or responsibility, but it does not vindicate or validate your position. There would be a lot less fur on the runway if the designers, models and buyers had to kill the animals with their bare hands, and skin them the same way. Taking a life ‘humanely’ is still taking a life. Choice given I’m sure the animal would decline.
Consider this: if you have to find ways to justify the behavior, could it not just be that the action is wrong?

Posted by Victoria | Report as abusive

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