It made headlines everywhere, “Billie Eilish stopped fashion house, Oscar de la Renta, from selling fur!” But is this really the case? Or is it, like all things in life, a little more complicated?
So from the start, when Billie Eilish went to the Met Gala in a Oscar de la Renta tulle dress, she had one condition – the company would have to stop selling products utilising fur. While this is fantastic and should be encouraged, one has to question “did they stop selling fur because of Billie Eilish?”
Back in August, it was announced that Oscar de la Renta would not be selling fur any longer. This was almost a month before the Met Gala.
In fact, two years ago, the fashion house had already started phasing out the use of fur in its collections and they allowed their fur license to expire in April 2021.
According to WWD, the decision to stop using fur was made in 2019 amongst senior management along with designers Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia.
Kim and Garcia had already stated that they felt fur wasn’t chic, modern, or relevant. So they would have been more than happy to comply with Eilish’s request.
CEO, Alex Bolen, disagreed with their statement regarding fur’s relevance but did agree to stop using fur on the runway but stated that the brand would continue to sell fur items in stores. Alex Bolen’s wife, Eliza, Oscar’s widow, urged her husband to end the use of fur, but to no avail.
You can see that the pressure was already building for Oscar de la Renta both internally and externally.
All the news stories at the time stated that it was Eilish’s plea that finally pushed Mr. Bolen to finally end the use of fur completely within the brand.
Bolen told the New York Times, “I thought a lot about what Oscar said – he was a big fan of fur, by the way – that the one thing he really worried about in the fashion business was his eye getting old.”
He continued to say that it reminded him to listen to other people, particularly young people. “I have to surround myself with people with different points of view.”
Oscar de la Renta was not only feeling external pressure from Eilish, but also from groups like the Coalition to Abolish Fur Trade USA. This group staged several protests at the brand’s stores including on Madison Avenue, and on Melrose Place in LA.
So it seems that there was already an intention, at least internally, within Oscar de la Renta, to stop the use of fur. It could be seen as an opportunistic move from the brand, may as well make a big show of it because they were already phasing the process out. Better yet, get the support of one of the biggest names in music right now. We can thank Billie Eilish for at the very least, prodding them into action sooner than they might have.
Good on you Billie Eilish. Oscar de la Renta should have sold all their fur-based products by the end of October and then that will be it – no more fur from Oscar.
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