Harrods and other well-known stores closed their fur departments as sales of furs manufactured in Britain plummeted from £119 million to £11 million. With the help of Eighties' campaigns like the brilliant "Rich bitch, poor bitch" and "It takes up to 40 dumb animals...", the glamour of fur had dropped dead.
Then the "comeback" started. At first, we laughed it off as a minor blip, a mistake that would be banished to history where it belonged. But it kept being whispered about. Last year, US high-fashion magazines started heralding the return of fur, then came the first signs of it on the catwalk - mink, wolf, leopard and Scandinavian fox pelts found their way on to cuffs, collars, wraps and stoles, which were trotted out by designers Fendi, Dolce & Gabbana, Christian Dior and Karl Lagerfeld. When Alexander McQueen produced his macabre show featuring animal heads as headdresses, he came up with some lame excuse about only using antique fur. "We haven't used anything that would remind Alexander of his dog", tittered his spokesperson. Heaven forbid.
Then there's the supermodels. Funny how a few years back, the big-name girls stripped off their kit in the name of saving animals. And who should we see sashaying down the catwalk, dripping in svelte pelts, but little Miss Campbell. Nice one, Naomi.
So, what's going on? Some say the return of fur is being driven by fashion designers and magazines Stateside who are being offered huge sums of money to use and advertise fur by manufacturers desperate to claw back their market.
The Fur Education Council, which represents the Fur Traders Association, offers a more simple explanation: "Woman are seeing other women wearing fur coats and deciding they want one, too. After all, nothing's more glamorous than a fur coat", says a spokesperson.
Want to bet? All the evidence shows that this just won't cut it with the vast majority of British women. According to a new MORI poll, 90% of us don't wear fur. And 88% said there should be a ban on trapping animals for fur. What further proof do you need that young women are avoiding it like the plague?
Mark Glover, head of Respect For Animals (he was formerly head of pressure group Lynx), says all their research shows young people don't want to touch fur. "The kind of people who are still wearing fur are either old dowagers or the wives and mistresses of second-hand car dealers", he says. Most of us think of your typical fur wearer as either a member of the blue-rinse brigade or a squeaky voiced, blonde bimbo, tottering around in high heals.
"If only they knew how hopelessly crass they look", says Red Or Dead designer Wayne Hemingway. "These people may think they're glamorous, classy and stylish, but all I see is a tacky, sad person who's obviously clueless when it comes to fashion. If you want to be hip and cool, wrapping yourself in fur is the last thing you should do."
But most importantly, if fur is back, then so is cruelty. More than 35 million animals will be killed worldwide this year in the name of vanity. The most commonly used trap is the leghold trap, which clamps them in agony for hours, although a few will gnaw through their legs in a desperate attempt to escape.Then there are the fur farms, where animals spend their short, pathetic lives locked in tiny, battery-style cages, before being gassed to death with filtered exhaust fumes or by lethal injection. "Fur means cruelty and those who buy, promote or design in fur are either stupid, insensitive or completely lacking in compassion", adds Mark.
The vast majority of us, including the Government, which has promised to ban fur farming, believe causing animals to suffer like this in the name of fashion is sick. As James Sherwood of the Independent On Sunday says: "Like it or loathe it, on the streets of London a fur on your back is like a sign saying 'Sister Of Satan'."
To help give the rest of Britain a wake-up call, Company has joined forces with Respect For Animals to help launch their new anti-fur campaign. Young Brit stars from Anna Friel to Julia Sawalha, Helen Grace to Melinda Messenger, couldn't wait to pull on our campaign T-shirt to give the fur industry the big two-finger sign. As Denise Van Outen - who, unlike Naomi, turned down big bucks to pose in fur - told us: "I think if everyone worked together, we could put a stop to the evil fur trade."
Also, watch out for the new "Fur or Against" posters due out next month, which list the huge number of hip fashion designers who have banned fur from their collections, against the tiny number of designers who still use it. The posters will be unveiled at an exclusive, star-studded "Keep Fur Out Of Fashion" catwalk show, staged by Respect and supported by Company on Sunday 23 November at the New Connaught Rooms in Covent Garden, London. Among the top designers featuring their fur-free fashion will be Antonia Berardi, Ally Capellino, Giovanna Palmiero, Seraph and Red Or Dead, as well as hip fashion colleges Central St Martins, Ravensbourne and Dublin.