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OSLO – Is the clock ticking on the global fur industry? A number of brands have said their collections will be fur-free in recent years, Michael Kors and VF Corp among notable names to take a stand on this contentious issue in the past 12 months. Already, many of the world’s leading apparel businesses have stated they will no longer use fur in their collections, Zara, H&M, Next and M&S among the more than 800 signatories to sign up to the Fur Free Retailer programme.

Clearly, fur will never be mainstream again, but there has remained a demand in the luxury segment. However, recent news from Norway suggests sourcing fur might be set to become that little bit more difficult in the years ahead. The Norwegian government has now committed to introducing a total ban on fur farming by 2025 as part of its manifesto. The country is currently home to 300 fur farms, which breed 700,000 minks and 110,000 foxes every year, figures which may come as a surprise to those of us who live in the West where fur is rarely seen on the high street. In reality, there are around 6,000 fur farms in the EU, which account for more than 60 per cent of global mink production and 70 per cent of fox production. Much of this is exported east to Russia and Asia.

Animal rights activists in Norway have been campaigning for a fur ban for years. In 2016 NOAH, the Norwegian animal rights group, organised Europe’s largest-ever anti-fur protest, during which more than 13,000 people marched through the streets of Oslo and other Norwegian cities.

Although the full details of Norway’s ban have yet to be finalised, all fur farms in the country will reportedly be required to shut down by 2025.

While the use of fur in apparel collections has become a no-no for most major fashion retailers, debate has continued to rage as to whether fur can ever be farmed in an ethical manner. PETA has been highly active on this issue. An expose by PETA in 2014 documented dreadful conditions on fur farms in Norway and several other countries, and featured footage captured by Norwegian groups Dyrebeskyttelsen Norge and Nettverk for Dyrs Frihet. The video shows animals suffering from starvation, thirst, and untreated, bloody wounds. PETA claims animals are killed in gruesome ways including by anal or vaginal electrocution.

Fur farming is already banned in Germany, Austria, the United Kingdom and the Czech Republic, while some other countries have a ban on the fur farming of certain types of animals.

Demand for fur fell in the late 1980s and 1990s, lobbying by the likes of PETA playing a major role in this. However, demand has increased since the turn of the millennium thanks to increases in disposable incomes in Russia and China.

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