Earlier this fall, we explored in two separate articles how the face of fashion has changed.
First we delved into the past while visiting the Fashion and Technology installation in Gallery 104 of the Cincinnati Art Museum. From the earliest days, advances in machinery have defined what we know as modern day fashion. Take lace, for instance, which saw a transformation from a handcrafted luxury item to a mass-produced piece of clothing, easily accessible to the everyday dressmaker.
Jump ahead 150 years or so and we have Iris Van Herpen. The Dutch designer’s work was recently showcased in a thought-provoking exhibit at the Cincinnati Art Museum. Among the many mind-blowing fashions shown throughout, one easily gets the feeling that thanks to modern technology, there is no limit to what an artist can create. Except their own imagination.
Now as the Fashion calendar looks ahead to the Haute Couture shows of January and the Fall 2019 runways shows of February, it seems the topic of fashion technology is once again being discussed, his time in a surprising place.
The main focus of this topic? Fur. More specifically, the case for designers continuing to use real fur in their creations when technology could “do the work for them”.
Famed designer Michael Kors recently announced that he and his portfolio of brands would discontinue using real fur in their designs. “Due to technological advances in fabrications, we now have the ability to create a luxe aesthetic using non-animal fur,” said Kors. He went on to add that these new techniques would be used beginning in February for Fall 2019.
While an announcement of this magnitude may not interest some normally, it seemed to catch the industry’s attention as Kors is known for using fur regularly in his collections. Also this decision may have even further ramifications as the Michael Kors brand recently purchased luxury footwear company Jimmy Choo, which does feature rabbit and fox fur occasionally in its designs.
As the industry speculated about why the brand made the change to manufactured fur, was it because of the recent anti-fur demonstrations from PETA and other environmental groups that the designer himself was the target of or a change in consciousness? Or both?
Interestingly, if you read Kors’s statements above, it seems that technology was at the forefront of his decision process. Especially when you consider that Michael Kors’ chairman and chief executive, John D. Idol, also said, “This decision marks a new chapter as our company continues to evolve its use of innovative materials.”
So the Michaels Kors brand went real fur-free because the technology finally allows it to do so? I suppose the answer is yes. This small step, joining the ranks of designers like Stella McCartney and Ralph Lauren, who do not use real fur, could signal that animal cruelty in fashion could soon cease to exist as technology advances.
Will we soon see every designer switch to a fur-free policy? Maybe. And that’s the wonderful thing about technology in fashion. It can completely change the way we do things and provide for a more sustainable world IF designers are on board with using these new technologies.
One step at a time, let’s first see how Kors’ collection in February embraces their new policy and use of innovative materials. Then we will see what designers follow suit as a trend can so easily become a movement in the fashion industry today.
Jenny Perusek is a freelance Brand Manager, specializing in fashion and the creative arts.