Top Fashion School Cuts Ties With Fur Companies, Stressing Cruelty-Free Design

Beth Greenfield
Senior Writer
Parsons School of Design is done with fur. (Photo: Yahoo Style)

A top fashion school, Parsons School of Design in New York City, has cut ties with fur companies, opting instead to focus efforts on teaching “alternative methods to using animal products,” Yahoo Style has exclusively learned.

To that end, Parsons has ended a nearly 15-year partnership with Finland-based Saga Furs, through which it had promoted career opportunities and fur-industry information, and is no longer continuing sponsorships with other companies in the industry. It will no longer offer any incentives for students to use fur in their designs.

The shift toward a cruelty-free perspective on fashion is an initiative of the school’s dean of fashion, Burak Cakmak, who took the helm in 2015, bringing with him a background in sustainable and environmental practices through positions at Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Stella McCartney, and other luxury brands.

Designer Todd Oldham (far right) spoke about vegan fashion at Parsons recently, with (from left) Dan Mathews of PETA, Parsons instructor and vegan fashion expert Joshua Katcher, and business partner Tony Longoria. (Photo: PETA)

“As a leader in design education, Parsons School of Design is proud to teach our students alternative methods to using animal products,” Cakmak told Yahoo Style through an exclusive statement. “Sustainability is a core component of our curriculum. We are teaching the future leaders of the fashion industry that they can have a positive impact on the environment by not using animal products, and still create beautiful designs.”

As far as proactive efforts go, Parsons is also hosting a series of joint events with PETA, the first of which was a Feb. 21 panel discussion, featuring Todd Oldham, on the topic of vegan and sustainable design.

Oldham also addressed the issue of cruelty-free fashion in a video (below) for his recent retrospective at the Rhode Island School of Design, noting, “whenever you see a chinchilla coat, you’re watching a bloodbath, [as] there can be anywhere from 80 to 200 chinchillas involved in a coat.” He’s just one of many designers who have pledged to create compassionate designs, as Giorgio Armani, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, and Vivienne Westwood have all agreed to go fur-free.

Saga Furs could not be reached for comment before this story’s deadline.

But Dan Mathews, PETA senior vice president of campaigns, tells Yahoo Style, “Parsons knows that today’s young people have no interest in old-school cruelty like that involved in fur production. PETA has long worked with Parsons to introduce students to the many modern, cruelty-free fabrics replacing animal skins, and Parsons’ decision to shed its fur program represents remarkable progress.”


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