Belfast Telegraph

Designer McAlinden sheds fur after furore over her raccoon hat in Northern Ireland store

By Sophie Inge

Irish designer Helen McAlinden has decided to go fur-free following an outcry over a raccoon hat from her collection on sale at the Belfast branch of House of Fraser.

The department store, which has a fur-free policy, removed the item following the discovery last month, saying it was "very disappointed by the behaviour of the brand".

But in an email sent to animal rights charity PETA on behalf of McAlinden it was confirmed the brand was committed to a no-fur policy.

"In the past Helen McAlinden's fur policy has been to only use the fur of animals that are in the food chain," it said.

"The recent use of raccoon was an oversight in our quality control. Henceforth the company are committed to a no animal fur policy. We were aware of House of Fraser's no-fur policy and it was a complete oversight on our part that this product was in one of their stores."

The controversy was sparked after a photo of the offending grey hat - which has a pompom made from raccoon fur - was posted by an outraged shopper on House of Fraser's Facebook page.

In the post, the shopper wrote: "Real fur on sale at House of Fraser Belfast - aren't you supposed to be fur-free?"

At the time House of Fraser said it had a strict no real-animal-fur policy and did not knowingly mislead customers. It added that "Helen McAlinden, one of our brand partners, is selling a product which does not comply with our Responsible Sourcing Policy and Code of Conduct".

Commenting on the designer's change of heart, PETA's director Elisa Allen said: "Real fur looks good only on the animals who were born with it.

"Helen McAlinden's compassionate decision to stop using the material will save countless animals' lives, and PETA is calling on any designer who is still using the remains of tortured beings to realise that the future of fashion lies in kindness, not cruelty."

Ms McAlinden's no-fur policy will bring her in line with top designers like Stella McCartney, Giorgio Armani, Vivienne Westwood and Calvin Klein.

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