Tuesday, November 13th, 2018

BREAKING NEWS: Free People Debuts Vegan Leather Collection While Selling Fur

Published on July 22, 2011 by   ·   5 Comments Pin It

Is it opposites day or did I get two emails from readers today that said virtually opposite things about the same company? Free People debuts a vegan line of leather skirts and tops while Anthropologie debuts rabbit fur jackets for fall.

Email #1:

“I just wanted to let you know that Anthropologie, which has been fur-free for years and is on the HSUS retailers list as being fur-free, is in fact selling fur. As of at least last week, the store in Chelsea Market has a Leifsdottir black rabbit coat – the label left no doubt as it clearly states “rabbit”. Of course they don’t have it on their website, which smacks of disingenuity to me. I’m disgusted and wrote to ask Anthropologie about this and let them know that I can’t shop there anymore, but naturally I haven’t heard from them, so I’m reaching out to others to spread the word. I thought other girlie girls would want to know (and hopefully take action). Down with deception!”

Though now off the site, a simple search turned up their original description of the Riverside Drive Fur Coat; “The perfect topper for your favorite little black dress or high-waist jeans, Leifsdottir’s sweaterknit-lined, rabbit fur jacket.”

A disturbing undercover exposé of rabbit fur farms on two different continents shows that rabbit slaughter, no matter why or where it occurs, is always cruel. The video, narrated by actor Gillian Anderson, shows rabbits kicking and screaming during slaughter. After the skin is ripped from the rabbits’ bodies, it is sold to designers such as Leifsdottir —who uses rabbit fur in their new designs.  The undercover investigations of rabbit fur farms in China and France revealed pitiful living conditions for rabbits, who are confined to tiny wire cages before they are slaughtered. In the video footage from the investigation, workers at the Chinese farm pull rabbits out of cages by their ears and shock the screaming animals in the head with a handheld electrical device, often multiple times. Rabbits with slit throats can be seen twitching and shaking, with their eyes wide open, before they die.

Email #2:

“Free People Debuts Vegan Leather Collection!! This is fantastic! Check out the video that accompanies the collection explaining why they’re making vegan leather (it includes several employees who talk about being vegetarian.)”

Blank Vegan Leather Buttondown Shirt, $108 @ freepeople.com

So, in case you folks didn’t know… Anthropologie owns Free People.  Directly from their very own wiki page; “Urban Outfitters, Inc. (NASDAQ: URBN) is a publicly traded American company that owns and operates six retail brands: Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, Free People, Terrain, Leifsdottir, a luxury brand for Anthropologie, and BHLDN.”

Why would the same company sell both fur and vegan leather? Because these guys are business tycoons, they will swing where the dollar takes ’em.  If they know their lesser priced lines (Free People) are already using cheap China-made fake leathers, why not market them as a vegan line as the movement grows in media popularity (many Anthropologie bigwigs read this blog, perhaps they finally figured out there is a market for us!)  And if they know that Anthropologie customers are wearing more fur, why not murder a few fuzzy wabbits for a hefty profit?

Now we dive into the always difficult question of … so, do we support the vegan line or not?  And our answer is yes and no.  Yes, we want to show them the vegan market exists and is a profitable one .. but why would we give them our pennies when entirely vegan owned and run fashion companies exist?  And on the other side of the coin, although internet shopping is de riguer, it’s nice for the average Jane in middle America to be able to pop into the mall and grab a vegan-marketed pair of shoes.  And perhaps if this is super successful, it will influence the company to choose more cruelty-free pieces and move away from unethical fabrics like fur, wool, and leather.

So…  for now – we want to email them letting them know fur is not okay to sell, ever. And that although you are thrilled they have debuted a vegan line, your dollar is better spent elsewhere until they take a stand with the animals and dump fur forevermore.

Email them at: service@anthropologie.com

What do you think about this? Hypocrisy or business as usual?  Let us know in the comments section below.

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Readers Comments (5)

  1. Medusa says:

    What jerks.. trying to steal our biz away from ethical vegan fashionistas.. there is no way I’d buy any “vegan” stuff there as long as they sell wool and leather and FUR!

  2. Debbie says:

    Plus, the hooded so-called vegan leather jacket is lined with wool.

  3. Their vegan leather line also features things like wool hoods. I wrote them a letter on their feedback form (http://www.freepeople.com/help-and-info-contact-us/).

    There’s a word count limit so I had to keep it brief:

    I was excited to hear about your new vegan leather line & wanted to blog about it for my organization’s blog (www.ourhenhouse.org) as an example of for-profit activism. But the first item I looked at (http://www.freepeople.com/whats-new-vegan-leather/hooded-vegan-leather-jacket/) contains wool! I appreciated your disclaimer about it but wool production is just as cruel as leather. Many sheep bred for wool are kept in conditions that are little better than the conditions of food animals: castrated without anesthesia, tail-docked, transported like cargo, & sheared in a way that cuts off pieces of skin along with their wool. Ultimately, they are slaughtered for their meat, known as mutton, and many of their lambs are slaughtered to be eaten while still babies. Furthermore, certain breeds of sheep are grown by farmers to have longer, thicker coats than would be necessary in nature, resulting in heatstroke and flies nesting in the folds of their skin. Please keep your vegan products vegan.

  4. Lillet says:

    “Why would the same company sell both fur and vegan leather? Because these guys are business tycoons, they will swing where the dollar takes ‘em. ”

    Exactly. it’s the same reason why Whole Foods sells meat, fish, dairy and eggs.

    Great letter, Jasmin!

  5. John says:

    “What do you think about this? Hypocrisy or business as usual?”

    Unfortunately for many companies, hypocrisy IS business as usual. Another example would be Big Buddha handbags marketing their non-leather line of purses directly to vegans while being a division of Steve Madden Inc, one of the largest producers of leather shoes and bags. Or on the non-vegan front, the “all-natural” Tom’s of Maine, which is a division of Colgate-Palmolive.

    It is promising however that these larger companies are viewing the veg market as a desirable, growing demographic. It just requires us to do more homework so we know how we’re voting with our dollars.


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