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Burberry to stop using fur

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British fashion label Burberry says it will no longer burn millions of dollars worth of unsold luxury goods or use real fur in its collections after a furore over its environmental record.

It admitted to destroying 28.6 million pounds ($51.4 million) of unwanted items in a single year to prevent them being sold at below market prices and devaluing the brand.


That cast a light on waste in the fashion industry — both luxury and mass market — just a few months after the owner of Cartier and Montblanc admitted to having to buy back their own watches from dealers to prevent overstocking.

Burberry also said it would follow the likes of Versace, Gucci and the trailblazer for ethical fashion, Stella McCartney, in removing real fur such as rabbit, fox, mink and Asiatic racoon from its ranges.

The fashion industry is under pressure from consumers and environmental organisations to make itself more sustainable, and many retailers have been called out in recent years for destroying unsold stock, including by slashing or punching holes in garments before throwing them out.

In the watch market, Richemont, owner of the luxury brands, said it would buy back unsold stock from dealers and would not move them to other markets. Instead it planned to recycle the precious metals and stones that were in the high-end pieces.

Burberry, whose coats sell for more than 2,500 pounds ($5,815) and handbags retail at around 1,500 pounds ($2,697), said it would expand efforts to reuse, repair, donate or recycle its products and work to develop new sustainable materials.

“Modern luxury means being socially and environmentally responsible,” said Burberry’s Marco Gobbetti, who is in the process of repositioning the label to be more upmarket.

In the financial year to end March, Burberry said it physically destroyed 28.6 million pounds worth of finished goods — up from 26.9 million pounds the previous year — including 10 million pounds worth of beauty products such as perfume.

Burberry said it was now working with the sustainable luxury company Elvis & Kresse to transform 120 tonnes of leather offcuts into new products over the next five years.

“This belief is core to us at Burberry and key to our long-term success. We are committed to applying the same creativity to all parts of Burberry as we do to our products,” Mr Gobbetti said. He is hoping new designer Riccardo Tisci, the former Givenchy star who designed costumes for Beyonce and Madonna, can transform the quintessentially British fashion house.

Head of the International Fur Federation Mark Oaten said substituting natural fur with “plastic petroleum-based materials, like fake fur” was neither luxury nor responsible.

Source: Reuters / ABC Rural

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