Long-time department store Selfridge’s has made the pledge to cut exotic skins from its stores as early as February 2020.
With over 110 years in the business it’s no surprise the fashion giants have made such a claim as more and more brands turn to more environmentally friendly methods of practice. However, the British based company is one of only a few luxury brands to make such a statement, others being the likes of Chanel and Vivienne Westwood, all hoping to inspire change for others.
The statement promises the discontinuation of accessories fashioned from crocodile, python, alligator and lizard by this time next year, and comes 3 years after the company’s current campaign, Buying Better, Inspiring Change launched in 2016. The campaign aims to make 50% of all products distributed under their name green by 2022; including removing plastic bottles from stores and making their classic paper yellow bags from upcycled coffee cups.
Selfridges first made itself known on the animal welfare scene in 2005 when it banned fur from its stores, this pledge therefore appears as a natural progression to becoming a more environmental brand. And yet the root of the decision to make such changes is debatable.
From a truly optimistic perspective we can assume that the brand was inspired by the delipidating state of the climate and the need for fast change. Selfridge’s, who has now had 12 years of continued growth in revenue, knows its audience and can be assumed to notice the shift in markets too. There is no doubt that this generation are more aware of a brands sustainability and their impact on the environment than any before, as many begin to choose vegetarian/vegan diets to preserve animals and regularly advocate for better practice by boycotting brands who don’t. The ban of exotic skins presents Selfridge’s as a forward-thinking company and keeps them viable to the changing audience.
Could this entire pledge be a marketing ploy to widen the company’s market then? Selfridge’s begun its reign as a mashup of brands, with the London store as the second largest in the world -behind Harrods- boasting its ability to house a variety of designers, with more and more as of late associated with the younger generation popping up in store. We see this with the brands new addition of the Bright New Things program which highlights up-and-coming designers promoting sustainable fashion. The image is projecting an awareness of the millennials a little too close to home to be a coincidence, and let’s not start on the addition of its 18,000 ft in-door skate park.
If the idea of Selfridge’s using the eradication of animal skins for products as a marketing strategy is just a little too far-fetched then there are some other viable theories. Chanel found that it was becoming increasingly difficult to import products made from exotic skins, which could have been a similar issue for Selfridge’s.
Without a detailed list of its customer purchases we don’t know how popular products made from animals are, which may depict a low profit on the items. What’s the point of sourcing and making a crocodile bag when there just isn’t a market for one?
Being one of only a few brands to make such a change can be questioned, however, we can’t dismiss the positive impact this will have on the environment and the influence it could make to other major retailers by inspiring similar changes.