This just in: Tom Ford, whose eponymous fashion line has made waves on and off the runway for its luxurious and bold designs, has gone vegan. Ford reportedly decided to make the switch after watching the documentary What The Health, which investigates the negative health consequences of meat and dairy consumption.
Upon going vegan, Tom Ford phoned fellow designer and friend Stella McCartney: “Stella, you’re not going to believe this,” he said. McCartney, who is passionate about creating animal-free pieces, congratulated Ford on this exciting development.
In an interview with Women’s Wear Daily, the influential designer had this to say about his lifestyle change: “I’ve been vegan for about the last year. When you look at how most of our meat, our animal products, are raised, from a health standpoint, I didn’t feel that I should eat those things anymore.”
Ford sees his transition to ethical veganism as an incremental process. When asked about his new diet, he conceded, “I do cheat with baked goods…because most vegan baked goods just don’t do it like a box of Hostess doughnuts. And I still eat a lot of sugar.” (Tom, try our Vegan Maple Glazed Apple Cider Doughnuts!) As with food, Ford is taking steps to make his own fashion line cruelty-free; this season, he debuted a number of faux fur pieces alongside real fur. Ford also seems conscious about how he is sourcing animal fur, only using pelts from animals who have been killed for human consumption, rather than trapping and killing them solely for their fur. “It is something that I’ve slowly moved toward, just as my diet has evolved,” Ford said.
Along with Ford’s decision to limit (and hopefully, eliminate) fur in his collections, Gucci, Calvin Klein, Armani, Stella McCartney and other high fashion designers have or are in the process of going fur-free. This is perhaps the most consequential moment in recent history for animals used in fashion. With so many big names speaking out about the ethics of fur production, they will have a far-reaching influence on the industry and beyond. And the fact that we’re seeing more and more fashion houses speaking out against the practice means that this movement is gaining momentum.
This also marks a time when consumers are exposed, unwittingly or not, to cruelty-free fashion. Individuals who frequent brands like Tom Ford have come to expect that the garments they purchase will contain real fur and leather, not only because these materials were the status quo for centuries, but also because they are associated with material wealth and opulence. But as designers begin to replace their non-vegan clothing with vegan options, customers will follow suit. As many of these high visibility brands have shown, the switch is possible, even if executed incrementally and over several years.
That said, Ford has rightly acknowledged that replacing real fur with faux is less than ideal. According to Ford, “I’m also very torn about this because fake fur is terrible for the environment. People think of fake fur as a disposable thing. They buy it, they wear it a few seasons, they throw it away, it doesn’t biodegrade. It’s a petroleum product. It is highly toxic. And then, you could argue that tanning leather is a highly toxic process.” Indeed, fake fur is synthetic–often made from polyester–and both its production and disposal aren’t environmentally friendly. It’s my hope that designers will move beyond the fur aesthetic altogether, instead beginning to incorporate innovative textiles and production methods that are both sustainable and fashion forward.
What are your thoughts on faux fur?
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Photo: Wikimedia Commons