In 1980, Ingrid Newkirk co-founded People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) when fur was considered a status symbol.
PETA has played a significant role in shifting the fashion industry away from fur through aggressive protest tactics, media campaigns, and corporate engagement.
Calvin Klein was one of the first major fashion brands to go fur-free after PETA's protest in 1994.
Social media and a growing cultural conversation around ethical consumption have further contributed to the decline of fur in the industry. While fur still occasionally appears on runways, it is now illegal to sell in California, and Covid outbreaks at European mink farms have diminished its status.
PETA's current goal is to make other animal-derived materials like wool, leather, and down as unacceptable as fur by highlighting issues such as live plucking and the conditions in which animals are farmed, transported, and slaughtered. However, eliminating leather or wool is challenging for most brands, as these materials are essential for the industry.
PETA remains undeterred and aims to change the industry, just as it did with fur decades ago.
As more companies cater to consumers seeking climate-, animal-, and people-friendly products, alternative materials are being explored.
Danish brand Ganni has pledged to stop using virgin leather, while companies like Kering, Prada, and Hermès are experimenting with biofabricated materials. However, these new materials are still in the early stages of development and often have limitations. PETA argues that the wool and leather industries are equally cruel, despite claims of responsible farming practices. The organization engages in pressure campaigns, corporate diplomacy, and protests to persuade brands to change their policies.
PETA also uses social media and imagery to raise awareness and has considered legal action against brands that make false claims about responsibly sourced animal materials. PETA remains committed to changing the industry and continues to target brands in its fashion campaigns.