The low-level controversy on Gucci’s rabbit felt should serve as a warning

The low-level controversy on Gucci’s rabbit felt should serve as a warning

Of course, at the end of the day the controversy over the rabbit felt used by Gucci is not important and surely doesn’t move the equilibriums of the fashion industry. That being said, it’s a relevant false step on a symbolic end, or rather a political one, we dare say. That’s why the brand owned by Kering has removed from distribution the controversial (for animal activists) accessories made with rabbit hair. We should learn something from this situation. If you try to “be pure, you will always find somebody that is purer then you”, translated from the Italian saying of Pietro Nenni. We could paraphrase it as follows: by trying to appeal vegan purists, you will always find someone that believes itself to be even purer, and will challenge your choice. In doing so, you end up cornered.

The controversy

The matter isn’t simple to explain. To celebrate Chinese NYE (January 22nd) and the year of the Rabbit, Gucci presented a “rabbit” themed collection. Too bad that activists on social media started expressing their complaints: “How can it be? Gucci has been fur-free for over 5 years and its collection contains products made with rabbit hide?”. The brand, says BoF, tried to articulate a technical response: it’s not “fur” but “felt”, because the hair isn’t attached to the hide itself. The material, they added, is a “co-product” of the European food industry. It was of little help, the brand pulled all products made that way and removed them from the marketplace, rather than defend their choice and stance.

Acting pure…

When CEO Marco Bizzarri explained in 2017 the reasons behind Gucci’s decision to join the Fur-Free Alliance, he didn’t go into ethical considerations. He limited himself to say that the material was “démodé”. Bizzarri may not have known it at the time, but he was supplying a strong push to the engine of veg propaganda. His move somewhat had a domino effect on large fashion brands that were ready to advertise their choice of abandoning fur (even when they very rarely used it) just to look good in the eyes of a specific market segment.

Too bad, because that specific market segment appears to be insatiable: once having won the battle on fur, they will want to win the ones on exotic leather, bovine hides, wool and vicuna. The same people also don’t accept any technical arguments: they consider them to be sophisms. They are not going to see the difference between fur and felt, they will just want to be right. And once you let them win once, you will be forced to keep doing it over and over. So much for freedom of choice.

Photo from Gucci

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