What you need to know about the new certification for the fur industry
Fur is one of the most controversial topics in the fashion world, and Furmark aims to change the perception of it. Many large luxury fashion houses and other sustainable fashion brands have avoided the use of fur in their products due to concerns about animal welfare and the negative effects of trade on wildlife.
Yet while the fashion industry and thousands of people are unanimously against the use of fur, the material has not completely lost its demand. It is in this perspective that Furmark, a new global certification and traceability system of the International Fur Federation (IFF), takes on all its importance.
The IFF is a body that regulates the global fur industry. It is present in more than 40 countries around the world and represents 56 member associations, which cover all aspects of the fur trade – from farmers and trappers to designers and retailers.
Furmark is a certification introduced by the IFF with luxury goods manufacturer LVMH Group. According to the IFF, contributions to the system also came from industry experts and stakeholders.
ChainPoint, which enables interoperability between actors in the supply chain, has worked with brands for the technological development of the tracking and traceability process integrated into the Furmark certification.
What is Furmark?
According to the IFF, Furmark is a “comprehensive global certification and traceability system” for natural fur, designed to ensure that animals are not treated cruelty and that all environmental standards are strictly observed.
Furmark is a unique certification framework, within which there are several scientific certification programs designed for each component. The programs have a ‘specific and independently developed scientific protocol or standard’. Each is subject to third party assessment and certification from a recognized body.
The unique feature of the global certification and traceability system is that it not only ensures compliance with established standards, but also makes the fur of the certified product traceable and verifiable.
Why is certification necessary?
Citing the rationale behind the creation of Furmark, IFF CEO Mark Oaten said, “We recognize that the public, regulators and fashionable people do not have a clear understanding of the furs.
Research was conducted by Mitchla Marketing on behalf of the IFF in the US, UK, Italy, France and Spain in March and April 2021. The study found that “70% of the public is “open” in one form or another to designers and brands using natural fur.
According to research, 65% of 5,000 adults surveyed had a positive opinion about Furmark®.
“This is a game changer: if people had any doubts about buying or wearing natural fur, then they got a response with Furmark®,” said Oaten.
“Our centuries-old business is undergoing its most significant transformation to date; traceable and sustainable products represent the real alternative to “fast fashion”, ”he added.
How is animal welfare affected by the fur trade?
The fur trade is a major issue for environmentalists and conservationists, in addition to those who champion sustainability and animal welfare in the fashion world.
According to Humane Society International (HSI), one hundred million animals are killed each year on fur farms for the natural fur that goes into fashion products.
In 2018 alone, 50.5 million animals, including mink and foxes, were killed on fur farms in China, the world’s largest fur exporter.
Western nations have been no less kind to animals. In the European Union, 37.8 million animals were slaughtered in the same year as several member countries banned the breeding of fur animals. It was 3.1 million (all mink) in the United States and 1.8 million in Canada.
Besides fur farms, animals are also hunted by trapping, a brutal method more common in North America, where three million people were killed in 2017.
In this regard, Furmark aims to ensure that people can wear natural fur in a sustainable manner and that it is produced ethically, with animal welfare in mind.
How does Furmark work?
A unique alphanumeric QR code on the swing tags is assigned to Furmark certified products. It is through this code that consumers and other interested parties can obtain complete information on the origin, type, manufacturer, location and animal welfare program related to the fur used in the product.
The fur must pass a series of scientific certifications to meet the Furmark® criteria, which include proper registration of each process.
To ensure that standards are always high and consistent, natural wild or farmed furs from major animal welfare programs, such as WelFur in Europe, are considered for the global certification and traceability system.
Other certification programs cover North American wild fur, North American farmed fur, a specific breed of Karakul from Namibia known as Swakara and Sable from Russia. A certification program for dressers and dyers is also available.
Fur can only be processed by manufacturers who meet standards designed to protect brands and prevent counterfeiting. Additionally, manufacturers must meet the SafeFur standard on product emissions, safety and durability, among other parameters in addition to third party testing.
As mentioned earlier, every animal welfare and sustainability program is subject to third party evaluation and certified by a recognized certification body. These evaluations are carried out to ensure that the standards are always met. Failure to do so will result in the program being removed from the certification system and from Furmark.
All of these programs are guaranteed to have “a detailed, independently developed and science-based protocol or standard”.
What is the future of Furmark?
Even though Furmark brings a new dimension to the fur industry and to the fashion involving fur, it should be noted that many top brands and fashion brands have completely stopped using fur in their products. These include Gucci, Jimmy Choo, Tommy Hilfiger, Stella McCartney, Calvin Klein, Maison Margiela and Vivienne Westwood among many others.
Announcing the decision to stop using fur by 2019, Donatella Versace told 1843 magazine in 2017, “Fur? I’m out of this. I don’t want to kill animals for fashion. It doesn’t feel right.
Giorgio Armani has partnered with the Humane Society of the United States and has stopped using fur since 2016.
Animal welfare is of course at the top of the concerns of the houses as well as of the activists who have celebrated the fur-free decision taken by the brands.
On the other hand, the ambassadors appointed by the IFF expressed their hope for the fur industry and the labels that wish to use the fur.
“Behind the handful of high-profile brands that have said no to natural fur, I still find a genuine interest in fur. I would even say that in post-covid markets there will be increased interest in authentic and sustainable materials, ”said Jan Erik Carlson, Furmark Ambassador for Europe.
“The reaction to Furmark in Russia and Eurasia is positive, Turkish brands are already joining the project and the main players in Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus are interested,” said Maksim Chipurnoy of the Russian Fur Union and Ambassador Furmark from the Eurasia region.
Similar sentiments were reported by Molly Wang of IFF China and Charlie Ross, Furmark Ambassador for North America.
Thus, the usefulness of Furmark and its impact on the fur market, which directly affects the lives of animals trapped or raised for fur, can only be clearer in the near future.
(Main images and stars: Tiko Giorgadze / @ domenika / Unsplash)