Activists Start Summer With Blistering Heat for ODLR and YSL

The grassroots anti-fur movement has shown that it is a force to be reckoned with, and if the international week of action from July 5th to 11th was any indication, Oscar de la Renta and Saint Laurent are in for quite the reckoning.

Instead of spending the July 4 holiday relaxing with family, dedicated activists in eleven cities across the US (and Canada) used the long weekend to make signs, plot mayhem, and spread the word about the next big anti-fur campaigns.

The result was 21 hard-hitting actions in one week, an average of three per day, and two per city.

From Honolulu to New York, activists simply owned ODLR and YSL. Malls were invaded, stores were taken over, frenzied security guards were made fools of. And where there weren’t in-store disruptions, there were still dedicated activists demonstrating outside.

Most of this onslaught was directed at YSL. The energy was electric, the pressure tremendous, and the footage on our Facebook and Instagram pages speaks for itself.

Activists came out against ODLR and YSL with patriotic spirit to fight for the native wildlife that these fashion houses imprison and murder. In place of George Washington’s Continental Army drum corps, an army of protesters marched into ODLR’s Manhattan flagship pounding snare drums so hard that the walls shook. Instead of the rockets’ red glare, NYC delivered the red glare of fake blood and chalk outside of ODLR’s boutique. After NYC was done making a mockery out of ODLR they paid a visit to YSL – a target that they were the first to protest years ago.

Texas Animal Freedom Fighters activists staged a pioneering disruption of Houston’s Casa de Novia Bridal shop, one of ODLR’s small club of exclusive retail partners. We emphasize their creativity and bravery in going out on a limb, because against Oscar de la Renta, it is secondary targeting that will light the path to victory.

Chicago was the most active city for this week of action. They held four protests, ranging from in-store disruptions to educational events outside highlighting the cruelty of fur farms with impassioned speak-outs.

In Arizona, the Scottsdale Saint Laurent saw two event. One was hosted by Eradicate Speciesism with a focus on engaging public messaging. The other was a disruption where several activists were cited for trespassing – allegedly. CAFT will post updates on this matter as the case unfolds. Animal liberation will not be achieved by asking nicely, and we commend the dedication and sacrifices of the Scottsdale activists.

Let this week of action mark the beginning of a great transition. ODLR represents the end of an era, one of the last American holdouts stubbornly clinging to the bygone glory of fur. And YSL represents our first strike at the global epicenter of high fashion, the European legacy houses.

We at CAFT have immense gratitude to every city that worked so hard last week to set the tone against the new targets. The determination you all exemplified is exactly the kind of determination we need to win these campaigns. With focus and unity, victory is a foregone conclusion.

Cities that took action:

New York City, Toronto, Houston, Honolulu, San Diego, San Francisco, New Jersey, Las Vegas, Chicago, Scottsdale, and Los Angeles.

July 5-11: Week of Action Against Oscar de la Renta and Saint Laurent

CAFT is today announcing international campaigns against Oscar de la Renta and Saint Laurent, beginning with a week of action from July 5th to 11th.

What makes a good campaign target? A target that is winnable, that is well-suited to build upon for future victories. And together we will win against Oscar de la Renta and Saint Laurent.

We will ultimately beat every designer with proper strategy and timing. But when it comes to building a movement across the Atlantic right now, Saint Laurent is the best target for many reasons. And here at home, Oscar de la Renta is foolish if it does not announce a fur-free policy simply from seeing this press release.

Oscar de la Renta in particular has a storied animal rights history, with runway disruptions stretching back to the 1990s. Oscar, we invite you to contact us – but if not, don’t say we didn’t warn you.

At CAFT, we have only one goal: saving animals’ lives. That means we are singularly focused on maximum destruction against the fur industry. Not what is sexiest for social media. Not what feels good. Only winning – and that alone. Social media follows success. And the best feeling is victory.

Our model for success has proven itself. One aspect of this model is the use of short-term targets to energize more difficult campaigns. Oscar de la Renta represents the remnants of a dying industry in the United States, an industry that we will purge from this continent. And Saint Laurent represents a new era of hard-hitting anti-fur activism against European designers.

Next week, it’s time for the fur industry to learn a lesson. We never miss a beat. We strike with precision. And their days are numbered.

Let’s show Oscar de la Renta and Saint Laurent how the modern animal rights movement deals with fur.

Victory: Neiman Marcus Drops Fur After 67 Days

How long does it take the animal rights movement to defeat America’s top luxury retailer?

Turns out it only takes two months.

Today, Tuesday, June 29, Neiman Marcus Group announced that they are going fur-free, just six days before the upcoming Neiman Carcass National Week of Action.

In nine weeks, Neiman Marcus saw 61 actions across 18 cities – nearly one a day. The amazing activists at Texas Animal Freedom Fighters alone did 15 actions in Neiman’s home state. In Southern California, there were 18. Boston did seven, and the list goes on. This victory is the hard work of every activist that came together for the campaign.

So what factors were at the heart of this historic victory? The same ones that have now been proven again and again: movement unity and strategic focus.

Coordinated national action

The grassroots animal rights movement is multitudes stronger when we work together. Our opponents are national and international. They thrive when we are divided. By choosing a common target, we achieve real results for animals.

This victory is thanks to the dedication of independent local groups in Texas, Florida, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Phoenix, New Jersey, Boston, the Bay Area, North Carolina, Las Vegas, and Southern California.

We did this together. We did it for the animals. And with movement unity, we will do it again.

Results-based campaigning

It’s official: gone are the days of marching up and down high-end shopping districts randomly yelling at stores known to sell fur. If you hold a demo lasting an hour and spend fifteen minutes at each store, or protest a different retailer every weekend for a month, you have had one quarter the impact on each company. What could have been hard-hitting pressure becomes a symbolic exercise.

With results-based campaigning – smart strategy, relentless focus, and winnable goals – our movement becomes stronger and our victories larger.

This is not always intuitive. We choose targets based on research, not popular appeal. We focus on what works, not what feels cathartic. We promise incremental success, not utopian social transformation.

And the result is that we win. As one might expect, winning is popular. It is cathartic. And it is transformational. In 2021, grassroots anti-fur activism has become a national powerhouse.

Timing and escalation

In the case of Neiman Marcus, while we of course hoped for swift victory, we had to be prepared for a lengthy campaign timeline. Neiman had seen remarkably consistent and hard-hitting national action from 1997-2002 and did not budge on fur. It had cut off contact with the national nonprofits. When the campaign began, it sold over 500 fur items from eight different species – many times more than its competitors when they went fur-free. And Neiman’s March 2021 debt refinancing scheme greatly reduced the financial risk of its new owners, decreasing activists’ leverage against them.

At the start of the campaign, only 42% of Neiman stores were within 60 miles of a highly active anti-fur group, and 30% were not even near an active organizer. Thus, the initial focus had to be building up storefront activity – to wear Neiman down, fortify and spread the campaign, and thus maximize the impact of future escalations on Neiman’s organizational and financial pressure points.

From the beginning, there were calls from passionate activists for immediate home demonstrations. But experience dictates otherwise when preparing for a campaign that may be long-term. Let us review two reasons.

First: if our target is likely to hold out against activist pressure, it’s a needless gamble to escalate quickly. Beginning with everything we’ve got leaves us with nowhere else to go strategically or tactically. Escalations are precious. They should be carefully timed to surprise and demoralize a target when they feel weary, or overly confident. They should precipitate turning points when appropriate circumstances develop. And they should re-energize activist enthusiasm over a long campaign. In the age of social media, “likes” for store actions may lull after a few weeks, and those attached to these platforms may call for escalation after this short period. We disagree. What counts in a pressure campaign is whether our timing impacts our target, not a Silicon Valley algorithm.

Second: escalation must be measured against risk. During this campaign, there were two cities in which police or store security called out activists by their full names, to indicate that they knew their identities. In one instance, activists were so intimidated by this gesture that they sat out the rest of the campaign. The lesson here is that we must educate one another about security culture and repression. Home demos are effective when needed, and CAFT shares the excitement around them. But they are also more likely to result in arrests, lawsuits, and other repression, particularly if a quick victory is not certain. CAFT organizers have extensive prior experience with police, federal agents, private investigators, and process servers tailing us in our cars and showing up at our homes, our schools, our jobs, and those of our family members and partners. These consequences are tolerable, but they are never fun. With Neiman, they weren’t needed at all.

A personal note

We at CAFT are rarely sappy, but feel compelled to speak personally here. We look back to the days when we began our campaign against Los Angeles designer Monique Lhuillier, and cannot believe that a mere seven months later we are watching Neiman Marcus topple.

Our joy is deep, and our gratitude is deeper. We are grateful to all of the grassroots activists out there who achieved this victory together, from those who brought fire at large disruptions to those who leafleted or chalked by themselves. We are grateful to the passionate, hard-working organizers with whom we proudly walk as colleagues. We are also grateful to Lydia Nichols, who began the first Neiman Marcus campaign in 1997, with the first incarnation of CAFT. Lydia, your support and belief in us has meant the world.

And of course, we are happiest for the animals on fur farms, animals whom we have seen with our own watering eyes, whose cries we still hear in our dreams, who are now this much closer to liberation.

We did it, everyone. Let’s all take a moment to celebrate. But not too long – there is still a reckoning to be had for a few designers in the States, and many more across the Atlantic.

For every one of those designers still using fur: let this be a warning. We are coming for you – and we will win.

Activists Visit Neiman Marcus in Beverly Hills

On April 24, Los Angeles activists added their voices to the campaign against the last American department store selling fur. Neiman Marcus sits less than two blocks from Saks Fifth Avenue, which had seen hard-hitting activism for months before announcing its intention to stop selling fur on April 7. Activists marched through Neiman demanding that they follow the example of their competitors. This event was conducted in coordination with a social media account called Operation Takedown, and involved visits to various designers and retailers in a shopping district. The visit to Neiman Marcus lasted approximately twenty minutes, but we are sure that as the campaign intensifies, Neiman will see the pressure ramp up in Southern California.

Texas Animal Freedom Fighters Take Over Neiman Marcus in Dallas

On April 24, Texas activists took the fight for animals on fur farms directly to the heart of the opposition – Neiman Marcus in Dallas, Texas, the company’s headquarters. Activists marched into the store to educate customers and employees regarding the plight of the animals whose skin Neiman sells as fabric. Making sure that Neiman feels the opposition in Dallas (also the founding city of the original Coalition to Abolish the Fur Trade over two decades ago) is a vital part of the path to victory.

NYC Activists Go Big at Bergdorf Goodman

On April 24, activists from up and down the East Coast converged in New York City for a Fur Season Finale day of action. Neiman Marcus Group was the primary focus of this day of action, and the chosen site was Neiman’s high-end Bergdorf Goodman subsidiary located on 5th Avenue in Manhattan. With a huge turnout, activists took over the store doing speak-outs and chants, before deciding to bring their energy out onto the streets. We suspect this isn’t the last Bergdorf Goodman will be seeing from NYC activists, as long as Neiman Marcus Group continues to sell fur.

Campaign Kickoff: Neiman Marcus Flagship in Beverly Hills

On April 24, Los Angeles activists added their voices to the campaign against the last American department store selling fur. The Neiman Marcus West Coast flagship sits less than two blocks from Saks Fifth Avenue, which had seen hard-hitting activism for months before announcing its intention to stop selling fur on April 7. Activists marched through Neiman demanding that they follow the example of their competitors. This event was conducted in coordination with a social media account called Operation Takedown, and involved visits to various designers and retailers in a shopping district. The visit to Neiman Marcus lasted approximately twenty minutes, but we are sure that as the campaign intensifies, Neiman will see the pressure ramp up in Southern California.

Seattle Activists Hit Saks

Submitted by Seattle activists:

After seeing so many incredible activists around the country protesting companies that continue to sell fur, we decided to protest Saks Off 5th in Seattle, Washington. 

The morning of the protest, February 11, it started snowing, but luckily that doesn’t stop Seattle shoppers! So we carpooled to Westlake Center to meet up with a few other activists and had a very quick meeting to go over the plan and what chants we wanted to shout. Four activists hid signs and a mega phone in our coats and walked ahead of the group to enter the mall. The other six activists protested outside. We took two escalators up to the third floor and entered Saks. We hit the alarm on the mega phone to get the customers and employees attention, and then began to speak about why we were there. This was followed by chants as we made three laps around the store then we were peacefully escorted out by six security guards.

After we exited the store, we were happy to see three more activists had showed up to protest outside. Thirteen of us held up signs in front of the mall and continued chanting. We also took this opportunity to hand out flyers and cards encouraging Seattle folks to support the fur ban in Washington. Two activists went back inside of Saks off 5th to leave flyers in the store and do outreach to the employees.

We also had about fourteen activists in total calling the Saks store number, and demanding that Paige Thomas cuts her ties with the fur trade. Most calls went to voicemail, a couple activists were hung up on before finishing the script that was provided for them. This was the first protest we’ve every organized, and we were fortunate to have three amazing activists from two different cities to get started and help find collective confidence in doing this. We are very happy with how the protest went and look forward to organizing more.

Los Angeles Kicks Off Week of Action Against Saks

Submitted by Animal Defense League Southern California:

Sunday, February 7, was the beginning of an international week of action against fur, and we knew the perfect way to kick it off: by returning to our friends at Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills.

We’ve been to this Saks location many times before informing the public about the horrors of the fur industry, and yet the employees at this location seem immune to the suffering of animals. In fact, they are so unashamed by the crimes they perpetrate against American wildlife that they hire guards and lock their doors to close themselves off from our message about the reality of their actions.

No worries – we will just have to keep coming back until they understand.

And that is exactly how we started off the week of action against fur here in Los Angeles. As per usual, our protest was a victory before it even started, because Saks locked their doors as we were crossing the street. We still decided not to leave them disappointed, and stayed outside of the store peacefully exercising our First Amendment rights for the better part of two hours.

Every time we visit Saks and they shut down in this manner, the entire building feels like such a lonely ghost town. Don’t worry, Saks – we’ll be back soon to keep you company.

New Jersey Activists Disrupt Saks

Submitted by New Jersey Animal Save Movement:

On Sunday, January 31, a group of compassionate NJ activists, including several parents and children, walked as a group into Saks Off 5th within a mini-mall in Shrewsbury, NJ.  This action was well-planned and organized as a peaceful yet attention-grabbing disruption to send a strong clear message that animal torture and death in the name of fashion is unacceptable.

Upon arriving through the door of the store, the lead speaker, using a megaphone and holding a fake “dead skinned animal body,” spoke out about the truth behind the fur industry, emphasizing the pain and torture that animals endure such as vaginal and anal electrocution and being skinned alive. Security personnel hovered around the lead speaker but took no aggressive action. Additional activists spread out around the front of the store holding signs like “Marc Metrick has blood on his hands,” calling upon the CEO of Saks to go fur-free, as well as signs reading, “Fur is Dead,” and “Animals are Not Ours to Wear.” One activist held a monitor which played continuous video of graphic images of live animals like rabbits, wolves, coyotes, foxes, minks and chinchillas being restrained while their skins are painfully cut off their bodies, and other common practices within the fur industry.

Eventually this group of dedicated activists exited the store and formed a line outside the front door.  They continued speaking out through megaphones including loudly chanting “Stop the torture, stop the pain. Saks Fifth Avenue is to blame,” and “Saks has blood on their hands.” Activists chanted together, held signs and banners and brought attention to passersby and customers of Saks. Police officers were called and remained present with the activists for the duration of the protest appearing to do so to keep order and safety. The activist believe this was another step in the right direction toward a cruelty-free world for animals.