From canceled fashion shows to store closings and unsold stocks, coronavirus has had an undeniable impact on the fashion industry over the past year. But fashion has become the main topic of conversation, with its role in triggering the epidemic.

Denmark called culling on mink farms after the mutated Covid-19 virus was transmitted from mink to humans. Denmark, with more than 1000 mink farms with between 15 and 17 million mink inside of them, is the largest producer of mink posts in the world. The number of minks in Denmark is three times the human population­čśŐ. However, with this decision, Denmark seems to point at the end of cruelty and the decision is thought to be a turning point for the world fur trade.

In the past few years, high-profile brands such as Prada, Burberry, Gucci, Chanel, Versace, Armani and DKNY have pledged to stop using fur altogether; and some also stopped using all animal skins such as mink, chinchilla and rabbit. Now Alexander Wang and Balenciaga have been added to this list!

Although Balenciaga has not technically used fur since its first collections, with the new decision, it has reinforced its position by making it the brand’s policy. Over the past few years, increased awareness of brands ‘ supply chain transparency and social attitudes seems to be encouraging brands to take more and more sustainable steps. In 2019 alone, demand for vegan alternatives increased by 258% in the United States and the United Kingdom, according to an article in Vogue Business.

Of course veganism isn’t always synonymous with sustainability, so while faux fur is a win for animal advocacy groups, it’s not a sustainable option as it’s often made from polyester and acrylic fabrics that are petroleum-based and toxic to the environment. With the mixing of artificial leather and faux fur seeping into the water, microplastics pose a great risk to the health of both humans and animals. However, animal husbandry also raises other environmental issues, especially feed supply and greenhouse gas emissions from fertilizers. So, in order for the fashion industry to be sustainable, there are so many more steps to take and too many options to think through. Therefore, it is of great importance for brands to actively invest in vegetal leather and make this their new norm.

Stella McCartney, safe to say the leader of sustainability among luxury brands, was the first brand to make clothes made by Bolt Threads with a material called MyloÔäó´ŞĆ, a vegan, sustainable, vegetal leather alternative made from mycelium, the root system of mushrooms. Gucci and Bottega Veneta of the Kering group are also known to have invested in the material.

While these steps that brands have taken in recent years are promising, it also raises the question of how long brands that do not give up on what they are used to can survive?