Valentino Will Go Fur-Free By 2022

The Italian fashion label wants to "pay closer attention to the environment."

Valentino fur sandals
Valentino fur sandals on display during Paris Fashion Week 2019.

Getty Images/Claudio Lavenia

Luxury fashion house Valentino announced it will eliminate fur from its collections by 2022 and shut down its fur subsidiary, Valentino Polar. The move is meant to reinvigorate the brand and connect it with more modern societal values and environmental concerns. 

The company's CEO, Jacopo Venturini, said in a statement that the fur-free concept "is perfectly aligned with our company's values." He added: "We are rapidly advancing in the search for different materials and looking to pay closer attention to the environment for collections in coming years." 

Valentino follows in the footsteps of other major fashion labels—such as Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Gucci, Chanel, Versace, Armani, Calvin Klein, Burberry, Michael Kors, Vivienne Westwood, Jimmy Choo, DKNY, Prada—that have sworn off animal products (fur, wool, and/or leather) in various forms over the past few years. 

Martina Pluda, director of Humane Society International (HSI)/Italy, said in a press release: 

"Valentino dropping fur is a major nail in the coffin for the cruel fur trade. Like so many other designers, Valentino knows that using fur makes brands look outdated and out of touch, and fur industry certification schemes are little more than the hollow PR spin of an industry that kills 100 million animals for fur a year. Compassion and sustainability are the new luxury in a world where dressing in the fur of factory farmed foxes or gassed mink is tasteless and cruel."

Fur has gone from being an indicator of wealth and social status to a sign of being disconnected from the times. A YouGov opinion poll conducted in 2020 by the Humane Society International/UK found that members of the British population use words like "ethical," "outdated," and "cruel" to describe fur-wearing. And 72% would support an outright national ban on its sale. (Fur farming has been banned in the U.K. since 2003.)

Even the Queen of England promised in 2019 not to add any new items with real fur to her wardrobe, opting instead for fake fur, though she will continue to wear old fur-trimmed items when occasions arise. 

The transition is happening on this side of the Atlantic, too. California became the first U.S. state to ban the sale of fur, with similar regional bans passing in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Berkeley, and West Hollywood. HSI reports that "Hawaii, Rhode Island and Minneapolis all proposed fur sales bans but had their state legislatures curtailed before the bills could be considered, due to the coronavirus pandemic."

The move to fur-free isn't quite as simple as it seems, however. Faux fur is essentially plastic made from petroleum, which means it causes environmental damage to animals and habitats when discarded at the end of its life. Rachel Stott of the Future Laboratory said the shift to a cruelty-free wardrobe is a noble goal, but embracing "low-value synthetic alternatives such as plastic-based PVC or 'pleather'" is hardly an ethical replacement.

"The manufacturing processes used to create these involve toxic chemicals and cause pollution in surrounding rivers and landfill sites," Stott wrote. "Currently there is no safe way to produce or dispose of PVC products, therefore consumers can be misled into thinking ‘vegan’ is entirely environmentally friendly." 

Valentino does not say what it hopes to replace fur with, if it will be using synthetics or eliminating the look altogether, but it will be interesting to see what new products result. As Gucci’s CEO noted when he dropped fur: creativity can jump in many different directions and there’s a lot of innovation happening in textiles.