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F is for Faux, as in faux fur and faux leather. The fashion industry has been phasing fur and leather out, as animal cruelty advocates such as PETA continue to push for popular brands to stop profiting off of animals’ lives. Meanwhile, the need for affordability has also caused people to prefer faux leather and fur products in recent years.

The movement of fashion companies to ban fur began shortly after California signed legislation in 2019 to ban the sale of animal fur products; the law will go into effect on January 1, 2023. However, from the moment the law was announced, retailers and global fashion brands such as Macy’s, Prada, Coach, and Michael Kors decided to eliminate fur from their inventory by 2021. Some brands such as Stella McCartney have been fur-free from the get-go, while Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren began banning fur in 1994 and 2006. Some brands have yet to let go of fur products, including luxury brands like Moncler, while its competitor Canada Goose announced they will stop using geese feathers in 2022. Still, Canada Goose has received backlash as their coats’ reported retail price will not change once their fur becomes faux. This seems illogical at first, as most people assume that real fur costs more to produce than faux fur. Yet, this is not always the case. From a cost perspective, producing faux fur that looks, feels, and provides the same warmth as real fur would be very expensive—just as expensive as the real thing.

The faux-leather movement, also pioneered by animal cruelty activists, has recently been driven by the need for more affordable fashion. Real leather pants can range from $300 to upwards of $1,000. Now, fashionable retailers such as Aritzia and Revolve are carrying pants with the same look for less. Aritzia’s popular Melina Pant sells for $148 and is so soft and smooth, you would never think it’s not the real deal. Just because there are now so many good dupes for leather products does not mean that real leather is out of the picture: a good All Saints leather jacket will probably never lose its value or go out of style, but it is nice to know that there are comparable options available that are more affordable and animal friendly.

Overall, faux fur and leather products have transcended the fashion industry from being class-exclusive and dangerous to animals. In my opinion, branding and marketing have also evolved to make vegan products even more appealing. I first learned about Aritzia’s Melina pants through influencers on social media; now, all Aritzia vegan leather has my heart, and I would rather buy two pairs of Melina pants for the price of one real leather pair without even knowing the difference. As long as leading brands, celebrities, influencers, and activists continue to promote and stand up for cruelty-free fashion items, we, the consumers will follow.

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