House of Fraser has been dubbed House of Horrors by #FurFreeBritain campaigners at Humane Society International (HSI)/UK for ditching its long-held fur-free policy and once again selling real animal fur in its store.
Jackets made by Parajumpers, Pyrenex, and Mackage using fur from wild-trapped coyote, factory farmed rabbit, raccoon dogs from China, as well as raccoon dog and fox from Finland, have gone on sale in-store and online for the first time since House of Fraser first banned all fur over a decade ago. HSI/UK confirmed with House of Fraser that its policy changed in October 2019, following the company’s takeover by Sports Direct. HSI wrote to CEO Mike Ashley last week to register its deep alarm at finding real animal fur for sale and requested an urgent meeting.
Mike Ashley is famously quoted as boasting that he would turn House of Fraser into the ‘Harrods of the High-Street.’ One way he appears to be attempting to do that is by replicating Harrods’ much criticized sale of fur; despite House of Fraser recently admitting publicly that its customers don’t want fur.
“Our customers want assurances that House of Fraser is not going to be complicit in such unnecessary suffering of animals and we take this issue very seriously and have communicated this to the brand in question,” a House of Fraser spokesperson told a reporter in response to a 2017 HSI/UK investigation which found the retailer selling real fur as faux.
Sports Direct profits have reportedly reduced by £51million since paying £90million to the administrators to bail out House of Fraser. Mike Ashley’s annual profit fell 80%, according to the latest annual accounts for Mash Holdings, through which the billionaire owns his businesses.
“Mike Ashley’s decision to overturn House of Fraser’s long-standing fur-free policy feels like the desperate actions of a company trying to make a quick buck to stop rapidly spiraling profits. But it’s a short-sighted and misguided strategy because against the backdrop of an ever-growing list of top designers dropping fur, House of Fraser’s decision to throw away its moral compass is painfully out of touch with the anti-fur zeitgeist,” said Claire Bass, Executive Director at Humane Society International/UK in an email sent to WAN. “By becoming one of the few retailers on the British high-street still peddling fur, Mike Ashley has turned House of Fraser into a House of Horrors, tarnishing this once principled brand with a coat rack of cruelty that is vastly out of fashion. The reaction so far from outraged customers threatening a boycott is a PR disaster. The vast majority of shoppers want nothing to do with the cruelty of the fur trade, so it’s highly unlikely that House of Fraser’s desperate financial times will be helped by filling its shelves with fur products from rabbits, raccoon dogs, and foxes who’ve suffered a life of misery on fur farms, and coyotes trapped and shot to death in the wild.”
The UK banned fur farming in 2000 on ethical grounds, but since then has allowed imports of more than £820 million worth of fur from overseas, including Finland and China. These UK fur imports are a double standard that HSI UK through its #FurFreeBritain campaign is urging the government to address by introducing a ban on UK fur sales.
HSI’s petition calling for the UK government to ban UK fur sales can be SIGNED HERE!
In March 2018, House of Fraser’s then Head of Sustainability, Dr. Dorothy Maxwell, provided evidence to an Environment Committee inquiry into HSI UK’s investigations of real fur being sold as fake fur. When questioned by MPs, Dorothy Maxwell confirmed HoF customers don’t want to buy fur. She said, “We know from asking our customers that they are not interested in buying real fur. Having been a fur-free retailer for many years, it is also because we know our customers do not want it…Our understanding of the market is that, when we look at our customers, roughly 8 out of 10 tell us that they want products that are not only free of fur but that meet other good performance standards on sustainability. That is the information that we have…We have genuinely been a fur-free retailer for many, many years, and we do not want to have real fur in our stores.”
House of Fraser’s Corporate Social Responsibility policy pages that cover policies on animal welfare, environmental protection, and human rights have been taken down from its website.
Since the UK fur farm ban, the UK imported more than £14million worth of fur from Finland, and HM Revenue and Customs figures also show sizeable imports from a range of other countries such as: Italy, France, Poland, China and Russia. In 2019, fur imports to the UK total £25.7million, including over £2.5million from China alone. Finland is by far the biggest ‘producer’ of fox and raccoon dog fur in Europe, rearing and electrocuting around 2.5 million foxes every year for the global fur trade; only China farms more foxes globally.
In 2016, the value of fur imported into the UK was £55.6 million. A provisional estimate of the number of animal skins that equates to in that year is approximately 2,000,000.
Britain imports and sells the fur of a variety of species including: fox, rabbit, mink, coyote, raccoon dog and chinchilla. Fur imports from dogs, cats, and commercial seal hunts are banned across the EU, and HSI wants those existing bans extended to protect all fur-bearing species.
Since the United Kingdom banned fur farming on ethical grounds in 2000, more than a dozen countries in Europe, including Austria, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Norway have legislated against the practice. In June of this year, the government in Ireland agreed to phase out fur farming and the Slovak National Council approved a ban on fur farming in October 2019. Legislation to end the practice was presented to the Bulgarian parliament earlier this autumn.
Several cities in the United States, including San Francisco, West Hollywood and Los Angeles have all introduced a ban on the sale of fur. The state of California also recently passed a ban on the sale and manufacturing of fur.
In addition to the physical and psychological torment of being confined in small, barren cages, for the animals’ entire lives, the killing methods typically used on fur farms are equally distressing. Mink are killed by gassing, and fox and raccoon dogs are killed by electrocution.
An increasing number of fashion designers and retailers are currently dropping fur. In the last two years alone: Prada, Gucci, Versace, Michael Kors, Jimmy Choo, DKNY and Burberry have all ditched fur. Other high-profile brands have also announced fur-free policies. In addition, online fashion retail platforms Net-A-Porter and Farfetch have introduced no-fur policies.