Abstract Classic anisotropic material descriptions require very sophisticated calibration techniques to uniquely identify the constitutive parameters. The presented approach identifies the fracture induced anisotropy as an evolution of individual, geometrically oriented failure mechanisms. Thus, only the calibration of a generic fracture mechanism has to be performed – and the evolving anisotropy is an automatic result of the calculation. The possibility for Mode I fracture and the transition to Mode II failure via Mixed Mode fracture is incorporated in the framework, including the proper energetic arguments. Multiple, intersecting fracture processes are accounted for and their individual contribution to the overall degradation and the evolution of the specific anisotropic softening behaviour is demonstrated. Comparisons with classic isotropic formulations clearly point out the range of applicability and the limitations of the proposed model in the analysis of the anisotropic residual strength capacity of partially damaged structures.