The move makes Prada – who used fur in some of her most notable collections, such as spring 2011’s “banana” show – one of the biggest names to agree to an outright ban.
She has already experimented with fur alternatives such as the plush fabrics from German teddy bear-maker Steiff in recent seasons.
“Focusing on innovative materials will allow the company to explore new boundaries of creative design while meeting the demand for ethical products,” she said on Wednesday.
Prada previously sold fur from mink, fox and rabbit. All three species suffer terribly on fur farms where they are confined for short lives in barren, wire-mesh cages where their existence is so deprived, monotonous and stressful that they often exhibit signs of self-mutilation and repetitive stereotypical behaviour.
Animal welfare groups have welcomed the move.
Elise Burgess, head of communications for Four Paws Australia said: “Animal protection is becoming a critical component of ethical fashion, and it is becoming easier by the day for people to embrace top quality fabrics and production techniques that aren’t cruel to animals in the process.
“Most brands don’t know much about their animal-based supply chains, let alone ensure the welfare of the animals used within them. This needs to change. Which is why announcements from leading fashion houses like Prada, putting an end to their use of fur, is a real milestone in the journey towards mainstream fashion practices.”
Georgie Dolphin, program manager for animal welfare at animal charity Humane Society International in Australia, said: “Prada Group’s historic announcement to go fur-free comes at a time when an unprecedented number of designers are turning their backs on the cruel fur trade.
“Prada joins leading fashion houses like Gucci and Burberry in choosing fabric innovation over animal exploitation. Fur bans like Prada’s prove that forgoing fur isn’t a fast-fashion trend, it’s a step to meet the demands of ever more socially and environmentally conscious consumers.”
P.J. Smith, director of fashion policy at the Humane Society of the United States said: “With Prada’s fur-free announcement, one of the biggest names in fashion just became a leader in animal welfare and innovation for generations to come.”
Even as animal welfare concerns have seen fashion’s tide turn against real fur, and cities such as San Francisco and Sao Paolo banned its sale, advocates for fur such as LVMH’s Fendi brand have insisted that fur farming can be done ethically.
They have also raised questions about the environmental impact of fake furs, arguing that the small plastic fibres they shed are not biodegradable and can easily find their way into the water supply when items are cleaned.
Other recent industry measures to clean up its reputation include a pact to stop hiring extremely thin models by LVMH and Kering, and internal audits on diversity at Gucci and Prada after the brands released products that were called out as insensitive for resembling blackface imagery.
Steve Jacobs (smh.com.au), Bloomberg