British luxury brand Burberry has announced it is to stop the practice of destroying unsaleable products, six weeks after it came under fire on social media over its wastefulness.

In July, Burberry faced backlash for destroying more than GBP28m (US$36.8m) worth of finished goods last year.

According to its annual report, the monetary value of finished goods the firm physically destroyed in 2018 was up 6.3% from GBP26.9m in 2017 to GBP28.6m (US$37.7m), including GBP10.4m of destruction for its beauty inventory.

Burberry defended its decision, noting the goods were destroyed in a “responsible manner”.

Now, the company says it will put an end to the practice of destroying unsaleable products, with immediate effect.

Burberry has also confirmed it will no longer use real fur.

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The company says there will be no real fur in Riccardo Tisci’s debut collection for Burberry later this month, and the brand will phase out existing real fur products.

“Modern luxury means being socially and environmentally responsible. This belief is core to us at Burberry and key to our long-term success,” says CEO Marco Gobbetti. “We are committed to applying the same creativity to all parts of Burberry as we do to our products.”

The announcement follows speculation in May the brand was to drop real animal fur in its collections after the company said it was undertaking a review of its policy.

Its decision follows British clothing company Belstaff’s move to go fur-free in July, and sees Burberry join a growing list of fur-free British brands and designers – including Vivienne Westwood, Paul Smith, and Stella McCartney – and follows in the footsteps of branded apparel and accessories maker G-III Apparel Group, which announced earlier this year its Donna Karan and DKNY brand will no longer use animal fur in its products.

However, the International Fur Federation said it found Burberry’s decision to phase out fur “disappointing”, adding it contradicts the brand’s statement of ‘luxury being environmentally responsible’.

“Substituting natural fur with plastic petroleum-based materials, like fake fur, is in no shape or form neither luxury nor responsible and sustainable,” said CEO Mark Oaten. “Using plastic fake fur in fashion is not sustainable and ends up damaging the oceans, the environment and the entire ecosystem. Any fashion business with a commitment to sustainability should be using natural products such as wool, cotton, leather, silk and natural fur. 

“Fur is farmed to the very highest standards, it is sustainable and many designers and brands continue to work with it. We think Burberry should allow its customers freedom of choice in purchasing natural or plastics.”

Meanwhile, the Humane Society International (HSI) has launched a global campaign urging Italian luxury fashion house PRADA to drop fur ahead of fashion week in New York, London, Paris, and Milan.

The campaign, headed by animal charity Humane Society International, its American affiliate the Humane Society of the United States, international coalition the Fur Free Alliance, and with help from Care2, will see citizens target Prada’s phone lines, email and social media urging the design house to drop fur because it is “cruel, out-dated and has no place in a modern society”.   

According to the organisation, Prada is a “major” fur user and its current range includes items made of fox and mink fur. Fur products include a fox fur jacket for GBP4,550, a mink fur jacket for GBP7,880, and a full-length fox fur coat for GBP10,700.

“Brands like Prada that continue to sell animal fur are becoming increasingly isolated as top designers drop fur cruelty from their collections, knowing that the vast majority of consumers find it obscene and obsolete,” says HSI UK executive director Claire Bass. “Prada has a clear choice to make as to whether it wants to be an apologist for the vile fur trade or to move with the times and strike a pose for compassionate fashion. We hope it makes the ethical choice to go fur-free, joining more than 900 brands that have joined the Fur Free Retailer programme globally. It’s never been clearer that fur’s days are numbered, and with our #FurFreeBritain campaign we’re urging the government to blaze a trail as the world’s first fur-free country.”

HSI’s #FurFreeBritain campaign calls on the government to make the UK a fur-free zone by extending existing cat, dog and seal fur bans to cover all fur-bearing species.