Exotic Leathers -A Swan Song
Those of you who have followed and shopped with Luxury Labels may have noticed the lack of bags available that are made from ‘exotic’ leathers and real fur. This is a conscious decision I made at the inception of this company, as the question of truly ethical sourcing has always been one not far from my mind.
At the end of 2018, an announcement by Chanel set the proverbial cat amongst the fashionable pigeons by announcing they would end their manufacturing of products made from exotic leathers and fur. They are said to have made this decision after finding it almost impossible to source responsibly produced skins and pelts. This seems to be a brave but well-timed move by Chanel, as the planet’s general sustainability is being called into question, buyers are being more discerning about their purchases and ensuring they come from ethical and sustainable sources.
There have been international concerns raised over the illegal trade in pelts from all sorts of endangered animals, their skins coveted for their ‘exclusivity’ and as a display of wealth. This is perhaps contrasted by the infamous sales of the Hermès Himalayan crocodile Birkin bag, which has broken handbag auction records in London and Hong Kong. Crocodilian skins are on the list of newly rejected materials listed on the Chanel website at the time of the announcement, as well as snake, lizard and stingray hides.
Only time will tell if other luxury designers follow suit, although there doesn’t appear to be a wave of brands lining up to match Chanel’s commitment to more ethical fashion. Kering, the company behind brands including Gucci, Saint Laurent and Alexander McQueen, announced that it had built its own python farm in 2017 to ensure that their products are created from ethically produced skins. They stated at the time that animals ‘will be raised in the best conditions’ before they are turned into clothing, shoes and accessories.
The bold move made by Chanel is proof that the brand is confident this will not harm their bottom line and they will continue to be a cornerstone of luxury. Chanel has laid down the gauntlet for other international fashion houses to follow in its footsteps and I, for one, commend them.