While anti-fur protesters were busy mobbing London fashion week earlier this
month, Ingrid Newkirk, the co-founder and president of Peta, was otherwise
engaged. She was in Israel, “leading a 30,000-strong march through the streets
against live export”, she says. She enunciates the words slowly, with emphasis,
as if this is the really important story. Because for Newkirk, fur is all but
dealt with – “a minority issue”. By which she means it is worn by “older people
… ladies of the evening and the occasional foreign visitor from an unenlightened
area”. Nothing to worry about there, she says, as neither sex workers nor the
elderly are “a good advertisement”.
But surely this is wrong. Despite Yoox Net-a-Porter’s announcement in June
that it would no longer sell fur, designers are still using it liberally. One
designer recently matter-of-factly enumerated the animals that had gone into a
single garment. The most photographed shoe of 2016 was a Gucci kangaroo loafer,
and the same house is currently selling a mink coat for £25,000.
If a full fur coat has become a rare sight, the fur industry has trimmed its
pelts accordingly and encouraged a thriving market in accessories. This is
stealth fur, fur for people who would never wear a coat, but consider a fluffy
keyring harmless – or easier to hide. How else to explain the proliferation of
fox-fur iPhone cases (£400), mink Prada bag straps (£730), raccoon-trimmed
parkas and even Anya Hindmarch mink fur stickers with which to decorate your bag
(at £250, let’s hope the adhesive is strong)? Nor is this solely a high-fashion
trend. A raccoon pompom hat costs as little as £20.
“What we call ‘a little bit of tat’,” Newkirk says, disapprovingly. She clips
the words, as if this is a matter of taste rather than ethics, which seems
surprising until she slips, all in the same well-spoken voice, into details of
cruelty to animals to make any listener flinch.
Take this story about Beyoncé. The musician is top of Newkirk’s fantasy list
of celebrities to front a Peta campaign, but she has proved resistant, even
though Newkirk sent her and Jay-Z a faux-fur bedspread as a wedding gift and
received “a beautiful letter back”. To continue the courtship, Newkirk arranged
for a Petaemployee to bid for lunch with Beyoncé in a charity auction.
Along went Hannah from the Peta office in Norfolk, Virginia, and settled down
across the table from Beyoncé and Beyoncé’s mother. “And at the lunch,” Newkirk
continues, “Hannah brought out a little video and said, ‘I wanted to show you
something,’ and showed Beyoncé a video of raccoon dogs being anally
electrocuted.” Hannah from the Peta office must have lost Beyoncé at anal
electrocution because Beyoncé’s mother apparently promptly whisked her daughter
out the restaurant, and Peta was later refunded its bid money.
Newkirk flits from fur to dog leather to the new frontier – feathers.
“Look,” Newkirk says, standing up to show off her new quilted coat by a
company called Save the Duck. It looks and feels as if there is down inside, but
no, she says, it is stuffed with recycled bottle tops. She is equally excited
about Vegea, a new wine leather made from grape skins; pineapple leather; and
Stella McCartney’s advances in “skin-free skin”.
Oh, and there is another new frontier. Last winter, Alicia Silverstone
stripped off for an update of Peta’s seminal “I’d rather go naked …” advert, but
this time the slogan was: “I’d rather go naked than wear wool.”
Wool? Well, they’re never going to win that one.
“Oh, we will!” Newkirk exclaims. “Young people, they’re right on top of it.
They understand it. And sheep are so gentle, they’re so dear!” Last year, secret
footage that Peta had gathered from sheep-shearing huts in Victoria, Australia,
helped to bring about the first convictions of sheep shearers in Australia for
“People would always say: ‘It’s just shearing. It’s a haircut …’ The
shearers, a lot of them are on amphetamines because they have to work at speed.
Men punching these sheep. They smash them on their backs, they punch them on
their face. With their fists, with the metal clippers, they sew them up without
“Showed Joaquin [Phoenix] this video,” she says – she has a habit of eliding
the pronoun, so it’s not clear if she or a Peta colleague did the showing, but
maybe the two amount to the same. Phoenix is a vegan who nonetheless wore wool
suits. After he saw the video, “Joaquin did a television ad for us and a print
ad for us, wearing his new vegan suit, and saying: ‘I didn’t know.’” The suit
was made from so-called “future wool”. Humans are allowed to make mistakes, as
long as they repent.
Yasmin Sewell on getting ahead of summer trends now and what to buy next
Vogue caught up with Yasmin Sewell, street style aficionado and Westfield’s
newest style muse, as the fashion fixture landed in Sydney for Westfield’s
spring/summer ’17 campaign.
We asked Sewell all our (and hopefully your) most difficult-to-answer fashion
questions as it’s not often you get a chance to quiz a fashion legend.
“I think it’s a really bold season,” Sewell proclaims. “It’s about clashing
things in an unusual way and I think people could be a little cautious, because
it’s pink with red and florals with florals and unusual coloured accessories
like white shoes or kitten heels – things that feel a little different. I think
it’s about trying new things and mixing those things up.”
Aside from a technicolour field of florals making its way into your wardrobe,
Sewell suggests getting familiar with the new oversized trend that’s already a
staple amongst fashion die hards.
“It’s about new silhouettes, oversize, which we all understand because we’re
in fashion, but I think if you’re a consumer and you’ve never worn an oversized
coat or jacket, you can feel like the Michelin man,” jokes Sewell.
If you can get your head around mixing bold hues together or fitting white
shoes into your wardrobe from now on, Sewell also suggests taking note of gold
accents for the season ahead as she will personally be investing in all of the
“Blazers! Big man-style, boxy blazers,” Sewell says she will be investing in
next, also “shoes that are pointy toe, really elongating, white boots – I’m
wearing them almost every day and lots of gold jewellery and lots of print.”
Fashion week might appear to be all glitz and glam, new-season reveals,
fashion kisses and late-night parties, but in reality it's a business hub that
employs far more people than those that get papped on the FROW.
One group of people who's jobs are less transparent than that of the editors
writing show reviews or influencers snapping selfies is buyers. Employed by
boutiques and department stores alike, these important industry-shapers decide
what goes into shops, and therefore, essentially into our wardrobes.
Why do you go to fashion week?
As London Fashion Week begins, we caught up with 26-year-old Harry Fisher,
senior buyer at one of our favourite Soho-based boutiques, Machine-A, to
understand what it takes to break into buying and how having a signature taste
can impact your work overall:As a store, Machine-A is very involved in fashion
week. It’s a great time to see everyone from the industry – especially from
overseas - in store and at the shows. We attend fashion week shows to see what
our existing brands are showing for the coming season. And also, to scout new
designers for upcoming seasons. This London Fashion Week I’m most looking
forward to Fashion East, Paula Knorr, Ashish and Dilara Findikoglu.
How has see-now/buy-now impacted on buyers?
I think the idea behind see-now/buy-now is quite exciting for buyers: it
generates impulsive buys, and instant hype. However, I think big brands doing
this has put major pressure on younger and smaller designers.
How much does the hype an item receives on social media impact how likely you
are to buy it in?
We definitely have to take into account many aspects of a collection when
buying. Social media can give us an insight into what people love and will want
to see move of in store. As a store, our buy is renowned for representing the
catwalk looks quite literally. So, when buying we are always looking for the