Meet the Man Who Convinced Armani To Give Up Fur

P.J. Smith spends most of his time turning designers like Giorgio Armani off animal pelts.

BY EVELYN WANG | Mar 31, 2016 | Fashion

Last week, Milan-based designer Giorgio Armani, he of the Brutalist suits and incredibly comfortable fabrics, announced he would no longer be using fur in his designs. He's joining a growing number of designer labels like Ralph Lauren and Hugo Boss that are choosing to break with old-school concepts of luxury and give fur the boot. Dazed interviewed the man who convinced Armani to go furless: P.J. Smith, the executive director of The Humane Society who never thought he'd be working in fashion.

In the interview, Smith says fashion is falling behind other industries in terms of animal welfare. While Sea World is no longer breeding captive orcas (thanks, no doubt, to the outrage surrounding 2013 sleeper hit Blackfish) and CGI has so surpassed the performance abilities of real animals that Disney made an entire movie showing it off, the high-end apparel and accessories market has clung stubbornly to fur as a signifier of upper-crust inclinations.

"Many brands still think that in order to be a luxury company, you have to do fur," Smith said. "But what's odd is that fur–when you're talking about tiny little strips of skin produced on Chinese fur farms–is actually very cheap. It's not luxurious at all."

His biggest argument when persuading designers to lay off fur is to show them that there are much more high-quality alternatives. "When you compare [real fur] to top-quality faux fur, which in many situations is more expensive, the idea that real animal fur is luxurious doesn't make sense," he said. Smith thinks other fashion houses will follow suit now that the big names have started saying no to fur, but it will take a while. 

And a huge problem remains in the lack of regulation. Switzerland, for instance, has strict rules that require listing the species of animal and how it was killed on a garment's label; they've proven quite effective in deterring some designers from using the stuff. The U.S., on the other hand, has no such standards. Armani's move is a heartening one for animal-lovers—but we'll have to keep waiting to see how far self-regulation takes us in the long run.

Read the full interview here.

From: Esquire US.