Examine the relationship and impact of lynx and PETA on the fashion industry and their representation in the fashion media.
This essay will discuss the impact organisations such as Lynx and PeTA have had on the fashion industry. There will be particular focus on the relationship that PeTA have with US Vogue editor Anna Wintour and how this effects the publicity that animal welfare companies receive from the most influential figures of the fashion press. PeTA and Lynx have often used extreme methods to promote their ideas on animal rights. This essay will discuss these methods and how these actions may have effected their reputation in the media. The backlash PeTA have received from former supermodel campaigners and the effect of this on the company will also be analysed.
Anna Wintour is the US editor of Vogue magazine. She is a dedicated advocate of fur and leather garments. Vogue magazine often features advertisements and editorials promoting products produced using the skin and body parts of animals. Wintour’s love of fur and Vogue’s glamorisation of such products has saw her feature on ‘PeTA’s most wanted list’ on numerous occasions. The feud between the animal welfare organisation, its founder Ingrid Newkirk and the long running Vogue editor has been well documented.
‘Newkirk’s actions towards Wintour have ranged from serving a dead raccoon on a platter at the Four Seasons, to splashing blood-hued paint on the steps of her Sullivan Street townhouse.’ Valenti, Lauren, 2010.
Despite this Anna continues to wear fur and encourages the consumption of fur and leather within the pages of the magazine. Wintour’s reputation within the fashion industry and her tumultuous relationship with PeTA may have affected the visibility of anti-fur campaigns across the fashion world.
‘Anna Wintour is recognised as the most powerful woman in fashion. She has and continues to define what modern fashion is today.’ BBC, 2000
Therefore PeTA’s decision to target one of the most influential women in fashion in such an aggressive manner may have affected their own reputation and their visibility within the industry. Anna Wintour is well-known for her dominant effect on the fashion world. She has been known to direct designers on the production of collections and has been credited with helping designers such as Marc Jacobs and John Galliano break into the industry by introducing their designs into Conde Nast’s prestigious magazine.
Britannica says Vogue is ‘One of the world’s most prominent fashion magazines, it has heavily influenced the development of the fashion magazine industry and continues to shape modern fashion trends. In 2009 The New York Times christened Vogue “high fashion’s bible.” Britannica, 2013
As many designers are eager to feature in a magazine that arguably dominates the fashion industry and influences the remaining fashion press they are likely to produce clothing that appeals to the majority and work with Vogue’s preferences and readers in mind. Vogue in turn guides designers in regards to upcoming collections. Many designers have offered their approval of fur garments and the trade continues to grow. Worldwide 69% of Autumn/Winter’s 2013 designer collections used real fur. If Vogue is sending a pro-fur message it is likely designers are going to be influenced by this and will aim to appeal to the large audience Vogue receives internationally each month.
The British fashion designer John Galliano, controversial and combative as ever, put up a whopping great sign backstage at this year’s Christian Dior winter show. It exhorted his models to “keep the fur flying”. The Independent, 2002
As previously mentioned Galliano has often stated that Anna Wintour is largely responsible for his success and it is well documented that the pair have a healthy relationship. Therefore in an industry that sees media and art heavily linked it could be that designers such as John Galliano are likely to be impacted by their own personal relationships and various connections within the business. In an industry that is well connected and sees many companies, personalities and media work together to sell products it is likely that ethics will become entwined in order to survive lucratively within the fashion trade.
Due to Vogue’s influence on the fashion world it may difficult for PeTA to receive the publicity they require in order to promote their message to the target audience. PeTA’s visibility within the industry is likely to be effected as they will not receive the publicity they require in the major magazines that their target audiences are reading. Vogue sets a standard and the company is idolised within the fashion press. If Vogue are not reporting on nor supporting anti-fur, then it is likely that the majority of fashion publications won’t be either. It is also evident that a host of designers are highly influenced by Vogue features and the magazine’s prestigious editor. This means PeTA are failing to connect with both the press and the producers of animal products. And so, designers will continue to use such resources influenced by Vogue’s pro-fur perspective. PeTA’s visibility is poor due to its lack of relationship with the influential people of the industry and therefore are unable to connect with consumers nor designers. This means there message is likely to be shunned.
PeTA and Lynx often use publicity campaigns and stunts to promote their pro-animal message. Both have come under fire for the way in which they have portrayed their views. Lynx and PeTA have used graphic advertisements, controversial stunts and emotive protests in order to persuade people to opt against wearing and eating animal products. PeTA have thrown red paint over those wearing fur, publically compared actions at factory farms to Nazi concentration camps and frequently stage nude demonstrations. Actions such as these have caused offense and the company has seen many of its supporters such as Green Peace, Ben and Jerry’s and celebrities such as Khloe Kardashian withdraw from the organisation.
Animal welfare company Lynx produced a series of adverts during the 1980’s to raise awareness in regards to fur wear. The advertisements gained much publicity due to their gory content and arresting imagery. The campaign was largely successful and lead to a change in Government legislation regarding the farming of fur.
‘By 2000 anti-fur groups had succeeded in persuading the Government to outlaw mink farming. Despite the Queen mischievously turning up at the state opening of parliament to announce the Bill wearing a stunning fur coat, the law was passed. Fur farming becomes illegal from the end of next month. Some 13 mink and fox farms have closed and all that is left to the farmers is to haggle over compensation.’ The Independent, 2002
It is evident that campaigns such as this were persuasive in conveying their message to the Government. Legislation was amended and the UK ceased to produce fur for consumption in the early 2000’s. However it can be argued that despite this success Lynx failed to appeal to those with a keen interest in fashion and fur attire has remained popular throughout the 1980’s and onwards. The following image is an advertisement which ran as part of the Lynx campaign in the 80’s. The image refers to the woman pictured wearing a real fox fur coat as a ‘Rich Bitch’. It can be argued that this type of ad alienated fur wearers.
‘The Lynx media campaign of the mid-1980’s set out to implicate in cruelty to animals not only the fur fashion industry but, by virtue of her complicity in wearing the fur coat, the female bourgeoisie consumer. Demonized images of fur clad women dominated the media landscape of the metropolises of London during the mid-eighties.’ Emberley, Julia, 1997
The message delivered is unlikely to deter those who already wear fur from the practice due to its aggressive language. The target audience may feel that they are being victimised and slandered by the company therefore may chose to ignore the campaign dismissing the corporation as derogatory and cruel. Not only were Lynx frowned upon for their shocking tactics but many PeTA’s campaigns, protests and advertisements have also been criticised for methods of extremity.
‘Most of society says that PETA’s message is being drowned out in controversy. According to PETA, these kinds of shock tactics are an effective way of keeping its issues in the news. It seems to me that the only thing these tactics are doing is keeping PETA itself in the news. But if people have negative attitudes about PETA because of their in-your-face tactics, then people will be biased automatically against whatever side of the issue PETA is trying to promote.’ Crisan, Hannah, 2009
It may be that the likes of Lynx and PeTA are alienating themselves in regards to their target audience. These companies are lacking positive publicity within the fashion press and are gaining a bad representation within the remaining media. PeTA and Lynx aim to persuade people to avoid meat and fur consumption. However their questionable actions are offending the consumers they ideally wish to approach. Both companies receive a great deal of press due to their imaginative and controversial actions but this press is not often positive. The result is a struggling reputation and the loss of followers. These companies are either receiving damaging press which is likely to deter potential followers or receiving no press at all in certain industries meaning their message good or bad is not reaching the appropriate audiences.
Over the years Lynx and PeTA have included celebrities and supermodels in various campaigns to aid their cause. Personalities such as Pamela Anderson, Paul McCartney and Eva Mendes have advertised for PeTA on numerous occasions. During its active years Lynx also produced a variety of successful campaigns. A particularly poignant Lynx campaign entitled ‘I’d rather go naked than wear fur’ featured a wealth of supermodels including Naomi Campbell. However since the 1994 advertisements Campbell has often been photographed wearing fur attire and more recently has signed as the face of Dennis Basso’s fur coat collection. Other models such as Cindy Crawford have boycotted their animal welfare stance in recent years too. The neglect of animal welfare organisations by famous and influential characters comes at a time when fur is remerging in fashion across both high end stores and high street shops.
The global sales figures show a surge in fur’s popularity. According to the International Fur Trade Federation (IFTF), fur sales have been increasing year on year since 1998, reaching £10.3bn for last year alone Metro, 2013
In the midst of a fur revival and with key designers and the most influential names in fashion such as Vogue promoting its circulation it is ever difficult for those who work in the industry to take a firm stance against its use.
Senior Vice President of PeTA on Naomi Campbell “Ethics mean a great deal to us, more than the lip service of some model who didn’t seem to have a clue,” said Dan Matthews. “We formally fired her. We’ve branched off a lot, working with actresses and rock stars–people who aren’t such slaves to fashion.” Rogers, Kate, 2010
It is of importance for models to remain impartial in the ever-changing industry that ensures their livelihood. It is likely to be difficult for models to secure contracts with fashion companies if they object to the use of fur given that a large percentage of the industry is producing real animal products at present. Employers will not approach those who have a strong opinion against the use of animal skins to promote such products. Therefore a strong stance against fur may result in a loss of jobs and a loss of money for these models. It would be in their best interest to take a pro-fur stance during a time when the product is at the fore front of fashion.
‘Companies around the world are spending billions to get celebrities to endorse their products… Stars are hot property’ BBC, 2001.
Celebrity backed products sell successfully. However there can be a risk to having a personality endorse a product. A company has to rely on an individual to represent their organisation positively. Signing models such as Campbell and Crawford may have seemed like a great step for Lynx; allowing the animal welfare message to connect with fashion fans. However it can be argued that involving personalities who are largely employed by the fashion industry means their stance may change along with the incredibly changeable business. This has a negative effect on the likes of PeTA and Lynx because the loss of celebrities leaves them unable to spread a consistent message. Those people inspired by models like Campbell and Crawford may re-think their own opinions on animal products too, which may result in the loss of supporters.
In conclusion, the impact that Lynx and PeTA have on the fashion industry has not yet reached its potential. Despite the success that Lynx had in influencing change in UK legislation. The overall animal welfare message has often been over looked. PeTA’s feud with Anna Wintour means that they may find it difficult to reach the target audience they need to acknowledge their anti-fur message. PeTA wish to stop those who wear animal fur from doing so, yet the large majority of these people are inspired by Vogue magazine and other parts of the fashion press that are largely influenced by the publication. As Anna Wintour’s remains a dominant influence on designers world-wide it is also difficult for PeTA to gain change from this aspect of the business either.
PeTA’s lack of visibility in the fashion press results in a lack of public awareness. However with their various shocking campaigns and aggressive tactics PeTA often make negative press elsewhere in the media. It can be argued that such methods have deterred potential supporters away from the animal welfare organisations. People will not want to appear in support of a campaign that is overly aggressive or controversial. It can be said that if the likes of PeTA were to amend their shocking methods and aim to capture their plight in a positive light there may be more willing supporters to back the organisation. This may allow their anti-fur message to become more appealing and result in wider acknowledgement of their beliefs.
Fur consumption has peaked in popularity over recent years and changing the view point of the fashion industry would be incredibly difficult. However approaching celebrities to advertise for PeTA and Lynx has largely resulted in success for the both companies. Although celebrities help to endorse products employing supermodels has caused problems for animal welfare charities. Models are employed by fashion houses to wear garments therefore it likely on occasion that designers will require models to wear fur, especially as the trade surges. Ultimately models earn their livelihood by modelling the clothes that designers request them too and as fashion circulates trends will come in and go back out. Fur is a trend that has consistently grown despite the amendment of UK legislation. PeTA may gain more consistent and dedicated followers if they approach their message in a more delicate manner and continue to include celebrities who do not have such rigid requirements from the fashion industry as super models do.
However the fur trade continues to grow. More designers are featuring fur in collections than ever before and the trade is more lucrative than in previous years. Therefore it remains difficult for PeTA and various other welfare organisations to gain change. Fur is a hugely wealthy industry and one that has overall approval in the fashion world. It would be a great challenge to change the opinions of those in an industry that is completely circular. Fashion designers are promoted by fashion magazines and fashion followers read those magazines. The designers want to please the consumer and will do so by aiming their collections toward them by use of the fashion media. Therefore it is a challenge to change the mind-set of those who rely on another part of the largely pro-fur industry for success and promotion.
2200 word excluding quotes
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Emberley, Julia, 1997, The Cultural Politics of Fur, New York, Cornell University.
Lynx, 1980, Rich Bitch, Poor Bitch, digital image, viewed 2013, Available at http://www.eadt.co.uk/news/features_2_483/how_lynx_set_the_fur_flying_1_1184497
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