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Melbourne Fashion Week usher in world-first feather ban, as new report finds widespread mislabelling by fashion retail giants

World Animal Protection 4 mins read

In 2024, Melbourne Fashion Week will become the first fashion event of its kind in the world to ban three controversial wildlife-sourced materials – adding a feather ban to its existing policy as a fur and wild animal skin-free event since 2018. The policy includes exceptions for Indigenous fashion.

World Animal Protection and Collective Fashion Justice have celebrated the move as a shining example for the global fashion industry.

The new policy was announced at a M/FW event on the Wildlife-Free Future of Fashion delving into innovations of designers, brands, material innovators and fashion events going cruelty-free.

Suzanne Milthorpe, Head of Campaigns, World Animal Protection said:

“Feathers often find their way into fashion through extremely cruel practices which undermine the most basic principles of animal welfare. With this new policy, Melbourne is setting the stage for a future where fashion and ethics go hand in hand, cementing a global standard for the industry which truly aligns with public expectations. We hope to see more brands and fashion week organisers follow Melbourne’s lead and embrace innovation over exploitation by keeping wildlife materials out of their collections.”

Emma Hakansson, Founding Director of Collective Fashion Justice, said:

“Fashion’s ongoing use of feathers is built on a ‘we’ve always done it this way’ notion that deems animal exploitation and planetary harm acceptable. In an interwoven environmental and ethical crisis, it’s time to move beyond that. Fashion is about creativity and innovation, and designers utilising next-generation plant-based, 3D printed, bio-based and recycled materials in place of feathers are leading us to the future of fashion we need. M/FW’s decision allows the industry to become more creative, and less reliant on outdated systems: that’s exciting and commendable.”

The announcement comes as a new report Feathers are the New Fur has exposed concerning and widespread mislabelling practices within the industry. Independent textile analysis confirmed that genuine animal feathers were inaccurately labelled as ‘faux’ or ‘synthetic’ by THE ICONIC, Selfridges, Boohoo and ASOS. In addition, report researchers identified that fashion brands Nordstrom, Cettire, Net-a-Porter and Revolve were selling garments with clear distinguishing features of genuine feathers, mislabelled as 'faux feathers’.

On the mislabelling World Animal Protection’s Suzanne Milthorpe said: “Our polling[1] has repeatedly shown that the use of wild animals in fashion is becoming unacceptable in the eyes of the consumer. This makes the mislabelling by big fashion brands a blatant breach of consumer trust, many of whom may be trying to shop cruelty-free.”

ASOS have since strengthened their material testing policies to ensure their wildlife policy is better adhered to. THE ICONIC has put a decorative feather ban in place, to be implemented from 2024.

Report co-author Emma Hakansson of Collective Fashion Justice added: “THE ICONIC’s decision to ban all decorative feathers helps to protect all wild birds in addition to conventionally farmed birds typically used for those purposes. The policy is progressive, and one we are sure to see replicated by global retailers in the near future. Brands can choose to spend big money tracing their supply chains in an effort to reduce animal welfare risks, or they can implement strategic policies that help to eliminate animal suffering from the value chain entirely. This is a more effective and responsible approach, particularly given there is no way to commodify wild animals for fashion which can be considered genuinely ethical.”

In recent polling conducted for the report, 70% of consumers when shown a genuine feather trimmed garment, believed the feathers to be faux., made from synthetic or plant-based sources.

The report, labelling feathers as the new fur, has also highlighted the shocking practice of live plucking within the feather industry, marketed to major brands as being of the highest quality.

“There is no way to turn a wild animal into a handbag or coat without causing immense suffering. It’s now up to the brands and shows to decide whether this is something they can justify and support.” Suzanne Milthorpe, Head of Campaigns, World Animal Protection added.

World Animal Protection and Collective Justice are calling on the industry to end its reliance on wildlife exploitation as a source of materials by investing in ethical, sustainable and innovative alternatives, in line with consumer expectation.

- ENDS -

[1] Polling conducted by Pure Profile in February 2023.

Key Facts:

- World-first feather ban announced by Melbourne Fashion Week.

- New report finds concerning mislabelling practices by retail fashion giants THE ICONIC, Selfridges, Boohoo and ASOS.

THE ICONIC has put a decorative feather ban in place, to be implemented from 2024.

- The full report, Feathers are the New Fur: Cruelty in Disguise, can be found

- Polling commissioned for our report found that over 85 percent of people believe that the farming and killing of wild animals for clothing and fashion accessories is unacceptable 

- A dropbox including imagery and polling can be found here.

About us:

About World Animal Protection

World Animal Protection is the global voice for animal welfare, with more than 70 years’ experience campaigning for a world where animals live free from cruelty and suffering.

We have offices in 12 countries and work across 47 countries. We collaborate with local communities, the private sector, civil society and governments to change animals’ lives for the better.

Our goal is to change the way the world works to end animal cruelty and suffering for both wild and farmed animals. Through our global food system strategy, we will end factory farming and create a humane and sustainable food system, that puts animals first. By transforming the broken systems that fuel exploitation and commodification, we will give wild animals the right to a wild life. Our work to protect animals will play a vital role in solving the climate emergency, the public health crisis and the devastation of natural habitats.

About Collective Fashion Justice

Collective Fashion Justice is a charity dedicated to creating a total ethics fashion system; one which values the life and wellbeing of people, our fellow animals and the planet before profit

Our organisation works primarily across Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, reporting on fashion’s injustices, consulting on legislative change with policymakers, working with brands to improve their ethics and sustainability, and transforming how the next generation of fashion students are taught about these issues. We also release investigative works, and offer free educational resources to the public.

Contact details:

To organise an interview or speak to a spokesperson, please contact: Sandra Sopin at


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