With the slogan #Reconnect – Time to Slow Down, a new campaign by the International Fur Federation urges designers, independent brands, fashion groups as well as consumers to change their consumption habits to help the planet. Sustainable sourcing, producing less, reducing waste, reducing pollution, buying fewer but higher quality garments, and wearing them for longer. This reflects growing criticism of the environmental harm caused by our “fast fashion” culture, while also highlighting fur’s solid credentials as a sustainable natural resource.
SEE ALSO: The sustainability of fur. Truth About Fur.
So what does it take to create a campaign like this? Truth About Fur talked with the man responsible for pulling it all together, IFF’s fashion director Jean-Pierre Rouphael.
Truth About Fur: The principal video for this campaign contains a powerful indictment of the fast fashion scene: “Just spend your money, shelf it, wear it, post it, chuck it, REPEAT.” As an alternative, you urge us to “Reconnect” with nature, and give it a helping hand by buying fewer garments and wearing them for longer. It’s “Time to Slow Down.” Support for this sentiment has been growing in recent years, and many in the trade believe fur should be part of this movement. Is it time to put it centre stage?
Jean-Pierre Rouphael: Yes, the conversation has been brewing for a while and keeps aligning closer to the fur industry’s values, so the world is definitely ready for this. At IFF, we’ve been developing this message for the past three years, and this campaign is a continuation. In 2018, we began presenting fur as “natural” and ‘”kind to the planet”, and promoted this heavily via Vogue magazine in eight markets. This has helped influence the media conversation about natural fur versus fake fur, and more broadly has given the fur industry a voice in the sustainable fashion conversation. Our latest campaign builds on this same message, while staying consistent and focused.
TAF: A consistent message makes sense for the fur trade, given that our sustainability credentials are so strong. But while you were developing this campaign, the Covid-19 pandemic struck. Has that changed fashion conversations at all?
Rouphael: It has definitely further prioritised the sustainability agenda and put it at the forefront of those conversations. The pandemic has shown in practice the positives that happen once we slow down – cleaner air, cleaner waters, a nature reboot. People have found a new appreciation for nature, and the industry is taking notice.
The pandemic has also changed the way fashion conversations are taking place. Before Covid, key fashion conferences were typically expensive affairs, for paying guests only. But the pandemic has pushed them to open up, so now anyone can log in remotely from home via Zoom, and be part of what were formerly closed conversations. The pandemic has also given us more free time to listen in, making it easier for us to put our hand on the industry’s pulse.
Pulse of the Industry
TAF: And what have you learned? What is the “pulse” of the industry?
Rouphael: We are delighted to see that the fashion industry today is calling for the exact same things the fur industry has been advocating for many years. Quality, long-lasting, handmade, investment pieces made from sustainable materials and not depleting nature’s resources. Overall, a promotion of slower fashion.
And this provided the base for our current campaign. We believe that natural fur is exactly the kind of material the fashion industry is calling for right now. For every quality the fashion industry wants to promote, a fur garment checks all the boxes.
Our task was to transform this concept into a campaign that is visual, educational, aspirational, and easily absorbable by end consumers.
“It Takes an Army”
TAF: Your behind-the-scenes photos show that a lot of people were involved in bringing this campaign to life.
Rouphael: All IFF campaigns are big collaborative projects. They start in-house, but once we’ve defined what we want to say, we invite outside parties to join. And when they say it takes an army, it’s true! Almost 50 people were involved in different capacities in this campaign.
After the director and I agreed the visual direction to take and signed the storyboard, we set about choosing the best team, and the list was long! We needed a producer, a director of photography, lighting, retouching, hair and makeup, a casting director, a stylist, a behind-the-scenes photographer and videographer, a location manager, an editor, a copywriter, someone for voiceovers, a catering manager, and assistants all round.
Plus, of course, we needed a cast of models, and it was important to us that they represent a broad mix of ethnicities, as well as different shapes and sizes.
TAF: Didn’t Covid-19 have an impact here too? The IFF is based in London. Wasn’t there a lockdown?
Rouphael: It’s not generally known that we actually shot the campaign in Dubai! The Covid rules were more relaxed there, and the budget was more affordable. Even so, we were all tested Covid-free prior to and post the 14-hour shoot, and had a government medic assigned to us throughout.
Still, Dubai did present some challenges. For one, we shot part of the campaign outdoors, and when the temperature tops 40°C it’s not ideal for modelling fur! But the models and the team were ultra-professional, and you really can’t tell from the videos and photos how difficult it was.
We also had to find a location with massive panoramic windows with green backdrops so we could shoot indoors but make it look like we were outdoors. And then there was the challenge of getting the fashion into Dubai as Covid was delaying shipments. For this reason, the stylist and I limited the number of brands we used and chose ones which were geographically closer. Still, we ended up with nine brilliant brands, and about 15 looks.
And after the actual shoot, we then had the post-production tasks of editing the videos, selecting the final photographs, and deciding the mood for retouching.
Last but not least, our website developer created a page to host all the new content, and compiled a media kit to deliver to all IFF members around the world.
TAF: Once a shoot is a wrap, how do you launch a campaign and then measure its success?
Rouphael: The main objective of all our recent campaigns has been to position fur as part of responsible natural fashion, with an emphasis on its sustainability. At the same time, of course, we want to keep fur’s image current and fashionable.
Every year, and depending on our budget, we work out a media plan pre-release and identify global print, digital and social media outlets we want to collaborate with, and accordingly make our bookings ready to launch. After the campaign wraps, we get all the analytics from the media with how many people clicked on the ads, how many people came to our website after seeing an ad, how many people we have reached in general, and so on. And then we report these numbers back to IFF’s members.
This year, unfortunately, we don’t have a budget to promote the campaign through external media (whether print or online), but we’ll still be posting and boosting the campaign via our own social media. It’s not the optimum way to reach the widest audience possible, but IFF has 55 member associations, and each of those has its own members, so it’s amazing how far a campaign can reach when everyone is ready to share.
How You Can Help …
Whether you’re a member of the trade or just a fur fan with a blog or social media account, you can help spread IFF’s message by sharing this campaign.
The simplest way is just to link to IFF’s landing page for this campaign, where all the materials are on show and you can understand the story. To share specific materials or to combine them with your own content, they’re all available for downloading from a dedicated public Dropbox link. We all have the power to influence the fashion conversation, so please, get sharing!