Green UK cosmetics company Lush has pulled out of talks to sponsor the KU fashion show over students’ use of fur.
The company is famously known for its policies against animal testing, choosing instead to test their products on human volunteers.
Bosses at Lush told The River that talks broke down with Kingston’s fashion students after they realised that fur was being used in the show.
Fi Stygall, store manager at Lush Spa Kingston, said: “Lush was very excited to be invited to support Kingston University’s BA fashion design students in their end of year show. Unfortunately around four of the 40 students graduating this year are choosing to use fur in their designs.
“Lush is a 100 per cent vegetarian company and we have actively campaigned against fur use internationally. We don’t believe it is possible for fur to be ethical; animal suffering is necessarily involved in its production.”
Lush was planning to support the students with bespoke hair and makeup designs before they pulled out.
However, the KU fashion department has said that students are free to use fur in their collection should they wish to.
Elinor Renfrew, associate head of the Design School and course director of BA fashion, said: “We don’t have a policy for or against fur as this is entirely up to the student.”
Lush’s website states: “We always wish to conduct our business so that all people who have contact with us, from our ingredients suppliers through to our staff and customers, benefit from their contact with Lush and have their lives enriched by it.”
The company’s policy on animal testing states that they only trade with companies that test none of their raw materials or anything else on animals.
The statement reads: “It means that we do not do business with companies who’s ethical stance is at odds with ours.”
Camille Hardwick, a 2014 KU fashion graduate, said: “It is a pity Lush have pulled out of sponsoring the students, but with their campaign to make fur history, I’m sure it would have caused a huge uproar if they hadn’t realised in time.”
Susanna Wen, another graduate, said that it was a shame that Lush had pulled out of sponsoring the show as it is a “big help” to the students for high profile brands to show their support.
She added that she hoped it might encourage students and tutors on the course to incorporate more ethical and sustainable methods into their designing.
“I think ethical and sustainable philosophies are being fully explored in industries such as product and architecture, but the fashion industry has been slow to catch on,” said Wen. “It would be great to see Kingston University students being more active and leading in these fields as they receive excellent training at Kingston and have the potential to make a great difference in the industry.”
Lush has not ruled out working with Kingston’s fashion department in the future should they change their policies on fur.
Stygall said: “We would love to see future years focus on the ethics and sustainability of their fashion, and join us in promoting business that has a positive, regenerative impact.”
KU fashion students declined to comment on the issue.