He, Mark Oaten, hated and loved invented FURMARK the future of furs in fashion: eco-sustainability
Mark Oaten is the CEO of the IFF (The International Fur Federation), and an ex-Member of the UK Parliament with whom I never got along.
I think the reason for this is well-known.
My blog is not a member of the IFF and I do not benefit from any kind of sponsorship.
For six years there was silence between Mark Oaten and myself.
Yes, the silence began at exactly the same time that I opened welovefur.
Until Mark Oaten invented FURMARK.
FURMARK is the future of fur.
FURMARK asked Mark Oaten and I meet to do this interview.
Here are the results:
1) The fur world is going through a very positive change. Thanks to the FURMARK project, furs will be recognised by many state of the world as eco-friendly. Are there any states that might not benefit from receiving this certification?
I hope that Furmark will give brands the confidence to work with fur and make it easier for them to source different types of fur knowing that they have the same high standard. This will be a global programme but not all fur or countries will be involved until we are sure they have reached the correct standard.
2) In London, where the headquarters of the IFF is, most brands are Anti Fur. Why is this the case?
IFF head office is in London- and the UK has seen some of the strongest anti-fur protests in past years.
There is a very strong animal rights movement but I am pleased to say that the retail sales are very good- in particular tourists shop in Harrods and other retailers and they are buying fur in large amounts
3) In New York they want to ban furs. Is that true? What will you do to try to ensure that doesn’t happen?
There has been talk of New York wanting to ban fur– but in fact there is no law or proposal being discussed.
The fur trade is working very closely with businesses in New York and also the local council to discuss and promote the positive impact fur has on the environment and on the economy. However there is currently a debate in Los Angeles about a fur ban- again we are working hard to prevent this
4) You have given yourself a big goal to achieve in a short time. 2018, 2019, 2020 are the most important dates of FurMark. Do you think you will be able to achieve the results you set for yourself by these dates? Can you explain to my followers what the steps of these dates 2018, 2019 and 2020 are?
In October this year 2018 we will launch the Furmark programme to brands – we are currently having pilots take place with farms and dressers on the programme – the aim is to go live in 2020 for Furmark- and it will cover- Welfur- in Europe– farming in north America- Swakara – wild fur and dressing and dying. Perhaps sable but we are working hard on that.
5) In what way will fashion brands benefit from FURMARK?
I hope brands will find Furmark easy to use and something that they can show to their customers who want reassurance about standards on welfare within the fur industry.
6) Will it be possible to buy skins that are NOT FURMARK certified? If yes, what will happen to the brand that uses those skins? Will it be legal for brands to sell furs or garments that contain uncertified fur?
By 2020 all the auction houses that sell fur will be selling certified skin. IFF will not include non-certified skin in Furmark. It will not be allowed to call an item Furmark if non-certified skin is used.
7) Will fur patchwork pieces that are made from fur scraps and that are very often used in fashion be traceable? Will the brand that buys fur patchwork be able to trace back the source?
Fur scraps are a good example of making use of all the fur and can be very sustainable – but it is very hard to trace and be secure that a scrap all comes from certified skin- this will take time to resolve
8) Some department stores declare they are FUR FREE – do you think the term “fur-free” will be banned from the fashion world and people will buy furs again once they are aware of the fact they are eco-friendly?
I hope stores that have been fur-free will think again and make a more sustainable choice and sell natural products such as wool, cotton and fur.
9) In what way will brokers benefit from FURMARK? Will anything change for them?
It will be important that brokers understand Furmark and if customers order this – they must make the correct choice
10) What made you want the whole world to recognize that our sector is and always has been eco-friendly?
I am proud that fur is a natural textile – almost 85 % of fashion items end up in landfill in 5 years of use – that’s awful- but fur last for decades and we should be shouting to the world about this.
11) Are you dictating laws or writing down laws that have always existed?
We always try to use the current laws on fur in each country as these must be respected- but often we want to be stronger than the law and have higher standards than are legally asked for
12) Shipping has always been a pain for brands. Will certification simplify the importation and exportation of skins?
Shipping has been a problem with some carriers not wanting to take fur – or some difficulties on description- I hope Furmark will make this easier
13) Can you predict what will happen in the fur world in a few years? At the moment you can buy a mink for 25 euros. The production cost of a mink for a farmer is 30 euros. Auctions are selling mink skins below the price of production. Will the prices rise? Will there be fewer skins on the market? Will furs once again be classified as a luxury item?
Tell us your vision.
I think that next year the market will still be a bit slow on prices – but these things are hard to predict and will often depend on what the Asia winter season is like.
14) Do you think that fashion brands have lost faith in the fur sector? If yes, why?
I am very disappointed when a brand ends working with fur. For example Burberry have said they will phase out real fur. I am sure that animal rights groups put them under lots of pressure- but they also should think about the role real fur has in sustainable fashion.
15) What do you think of all the wrong terminology used also by the big fashion brands? Eco fur, organic fur, or brands like Stella McCartney that defining themselves ECO FRIENDLY claim they are helping the environment when in reality they produce only plastic fur or highly polluting and no-biodegradable clothes?
I don’t see how fake or plastic fur can be called eco – ok it may in some cases be from recycled plastic – but its still plastic- and it wont bio degrade- but natural fur will.
16) China and Korea are the biggest buyers but the rules in their countries seem dubious. What will you do about this situation?
In China in am pleased to see a new farming standard being developed and there are many good farms – but more work is needed to get to the high standard of independent inspection that is required under Furmark
I am very happy to have Mark Oaten on the blog!