Designer fakes areinfashion; CRUEL TO COOL GUCCI'S FUR BAN SIGNALS CATWALK TREND; Debate over fur vs fake continues as Italian fashion giants change their approach but the high streets are still full of animal products which cause so much anger.
BAD news for ostentatious millionaires, exhibitionists and rappers.. Gucci are giving up fur.
As of next year, the Italian luxury brand will no longer offer animalbased outerwear for those with more money than taste.
Coats that look like a football mascot wearing a Barras leather jacket costing upwards of PS10,000 will now be made of fun fur rather than animal pelts.
The fashion giant's president, Marco Bizzarri, announced the about-turn this week and tried to make it look as if it was a creative decision.
He told an audience at the London College of Fashion: "Do you think using furs is still modern? I don't think it's still modern and that's the reason why we decided not to do that. It's a little bit outdated. Creativity can jump in many different directions instead of using furs."
The fashion tide has been turning against animal skins for years. Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren and Armani have already stopped using fur. Gucci are reckoned to be a bigger win for animal rights campaigners as the company regularly put outrageous pelts on the catwalk. Mink, coyote, raccoon, dog, fox, rabbit and karakul (a shaggy sheep from south Asia) have all featured in past seasons.
However, Burberry, Dior, Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent all continue to use real fur.
Fashion lecturer Jade Halbert welcomed Gucci's decision but pointed out that fur is not the first thing many consumers associate with the brand.
She said: "Gucci are an Italian company and fur is treated differently there. Young women are taken out to buy their first fur coat when they are 18. It isn't as taboo there as it is in the rest of Europe. "Unlike other Italian brands such as Fendi, Gucci are not synonymous with fur. Most of their fur pieces are for the catwalk spectacle. They are loss leaders, designed to sell perfume and handbags."
Harrods and Harvey Nichols still sell fur, while other department stores such as Fenwick and Selfridges have backed away.
Holland Cooper, an English brand stocked by Harrods, are opening a branch in Edinburgh's upmarket Multrees Walk later this year. They use fox and racoon fur on their puffa jackets, capes and fur hats.
Halbert explained: "The Towie girls started the trend for ponchos trimmed with fur and big fur hats.
"But it's years since fur has been fashionable. Ever since the rise of youth culture in the 1960s, the fur coat has been a symbol of everything that is stuffy and old.
"In the 70s, it was associated with Eurotrash and Donald Trump's wives.
"In the 1980s, Joan Collins wore it on Dynasty. Then in the 1990s, there were the influential PETA advertisements, with the slogan, 'I'd rather go naked than wear fur'."
But that message seems to have been forgotten in some quarters and the Towie girls are not the only celebrities to risk criticism for their choice of pelts. Katie Price is regularly photographed in a fur hat and boots. Celebrity Island's Lucy Mecklenburgh wore a dyed blue fox fur at London Fashion Week and Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell - who appeared in the iconic PETA ad in 1994 - later wore real fur.
Within the Scottish fashion industry, animal skins have few fans.
Mary McGowne, founder of the Scottish Fashion Awards, said: "Kudos to Gucci for recognising the fur industry for what it is - unspeakably cruel, out of touch with style-savvy consumers and hideously out of fashion. Who in this day and age could possibly think fur is attractive? "This is an industry game-changer.
The world's most relevant designers are acknowledging the luxurious alternatives which make the need to kill animals in the most torturous, inhumane ways for their fur wholly redundant."
Scots designers are ahead of Gucci in embracing fake.
Dundee firm Isolated Heroes use artificial furs in colours not seen in nature in their outrageous designs.
And designer Silvia Pellegrino, from Chouchou Couture, has always faked it.
She said: "I am so happy that more people understand that animal cruelty is completely unnecessary when it comes to designing beautiful pieces."
Fashion blogger Amanda Davies said: "There are so many faux fur options that are beautiful and unusual. There is no reason to wear dead animal skin."
Another blogger, Sheri Scott, protested against fur at London Fashion Week.
She said: "Faux is such great quality these days. I am taken aback when I see it up close and personal."
But while fur is falling out of favour among small avant garde labels and the giants of luxe, Halbert fears it is sneaking back into fast fashion.
She said: "Fake fur is now so good that people can't tell the difference and some fur that is advertised as fake is actually real.
"It used to be a luxury that cost a year's wages - now it's creeping back onto the high street."
Fake fur is now so good that people can't tell the difference FASHION LECTURER JADE HALBERT
RAP WEAR Puff Daddy wearing a fur coat
ALTERNATIVE Models in Isolated Heroes' print, left, and Obscure Couture
DOUBLE STANDARDS Naomi Campbell with other supermodels in a PETA ad in 1994, above. Towie stars Lucky Mecklenburgh and Billi Mucklow, left, were spotted in fur coats this week
ACCESSORIES Naomi with a fur pelt in 2004, above, a Gucci model strides down the catwalk in a fur jacked, left