Have you ever looked into all the various acts of harm, inflicted upon other species, that are done in the name of ‘fashion?’
It’s now 2018 and there are numerous fashion brands that still exploit cows, calves, lamb, sheep, alpacas, crocodiles, minks, pythons, racoons and rabbits. High fashion brands like Chanel and Louis Vuitton have a long way to go compared to others.
Leather and fur have been used for thousands of years by many different cultures around the world. Leather is one of the most widely traded commodities and have a large role in the economy, with an estimated global trade value of approximately US$100 billion per year. Fur on the other hand, has had a large decrease in sales over the last few years due to many high fashion brands switching to synthetic alternatives.
Slowly but surely, times are changing!
This year has already had some great changes for the animals in the fashion industry. It seems as though the end of fur farming is well within its reach for the last few seasons.
There are now plenty of new eco-fabrics, thanks to technological advances on the market, from mushroom and pineapple leather to feather down alternatives.
Who doesn’t love pineapples and now you can even wear them! “Carmen Hijosa, a Spanish leather goods designer, developed the tropical textile after working as a consultant in the Philippines. In search of an alternative for leather, she came across the Barong Tagalog, a formal garment normally worn by Filipino men and made with the fibers of pineapple leaves. Its fabric was both fine and strong — a perfect combination for designing the perfect leather product. That’s when the idea for Piñatex was born,” Said Carla Herreria of Huffington post. This really means that in order to have Piñatex, we don’t have to use any land, water, pesticides, fertilizers and we are taking a waste material and ‘upscaling’ it.
Mushroom leather is also an alternative now! Phil Ross from Mycoworks says, “It has the plasticity that you can’t have with animal hide.” The mycelium process uses organic technology in a carbon negative process and is also 100% biodegradable. It resembles suede but is “much softer,” according to Italy-based textile manufacturer GradoZero Espace and can be described as breathable, pliable, naturally water-repellant, and suitable for direct contact with human skin. Best of all, no animals are used in the manufacturing of this vegan-friendly product.
The future is truly vegan!
According to PETA, Michael Kors announced they will no longer use fur in their brand as of 2019. “Due to technological advances in fabrications, we now have the ability to create a luxe aesthetic using non-animal fur,” Kors said in a statement.
Brands such as Calvin Klein, Armani, Gucci, Versace, Furla, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Kate Spade, Hugo Boss, Lacoste, Tom Ford, Vivienne Westwood and Yoox Net-a-Porter Group have also recently made the switch to synthetic furs.
By these brands going fur free, it is a step in the right direction, however, the rate at which animals are slaughtered at, is so high, we must look at ending animal exploitation completely. With the human population growing rapidly, it will only become worse for the environment, as time goes on.
Every year, the leather industry slaughters more than 1 billion animals globally.
If only they would just ditch the use of leather when we can imitate animal skin, without harming someone?
Many see something wrong with wearing fur but still think it is okay to wear leather.
Whether the skin came from an animal on a farm or from one who was trapped in the wild, every fur coat or skin is the result of suffering and took away a life. Animals on fur farms spend their entire lives confined to cramped, filthy wire cages before being suffocated, electrocuted, gassed, or poisoned.
Regardless of the animal they are all capable of feeling pain, fear, and loneliness and they certainly don’t deserve to be tortured and killed for a jacket, a pair of shoes, a belt, or a handbag. We can do better than that.
Countries like China and India export the most cow hide in the world. In India, cows often have their tails broken and chilli or tobacco rubbed into their eyes while being deprived of food and water before their slaughter.
The carcinogenic chemicals used to tan cow hides also pollute the surrounding environment, harming both humans and wildlife.
Buying leather directly contributes to factory farms and slaughterhouses, as skin is seen as the most important byproduct of the meat industry.
For those who haven’t looked into how unethical, animal agriculture is for the planet, according to Cowspiracy, “Animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined exhaust from all transportation.”
“Livestock and their byproducts account for at least 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, or 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions.”
Any brand is able to make just as much profit from synthetics, as they do from using animals. Branding always comes down to marketing.
Stella McCartney is a high fashion vegan label that has already been on the market since 2001. We could also take a look at Tesla, who has been a fully vegan and luxury car brand since 2016. If Tesla and Stella McCartney can be as ethical as they possibly can, so can all fashion brands.
Most car brands have a synthetic material available it is just a matter of time for the fashion industry to follow in their footsteps. Being sustainable doesn’t have to be expensive either, there are many cheap brands at any shopping centre or on the web, that would have vegan synthetics available, if you want something more affordable.
There is nothing stopping companies from switching to more sustainable fabrics.
It is also outdated for humans to still be using other animals, in any shape or form, when there are many cruelty free options available. After all, we have vegan alternatives accessible to us, everywhere.
PETA exposed crocodile farms used for Louis Vuitton, in countries like the U.S and Africa, who have also captured footage of the cruel practice. The abuse these animals receive is shocking and it must be ended immediately. “Workers electroshocked crocodiles then attempted to kill them by cutting into their necks and ramming metal rods down their spines. The animals shake vigorously as this happens,” stated by PETA.
How can we reach a world of peace, if humanity eats those they claim they love while wearing someone?
Our perception has been deceived through culture. Just because we have been doing something for thousands of years, does not make it morally right.
More people are not only going cruelty free but always looking for more vegan options to become available.
Would you agree that we are a lot more fashionable when we aren’t wearing someone else?
This whole industry purely runs off consumer demand. By simply switching to vegan products, you will help decrease the amount of animals suffering and land being cleared to feed those animals.
Materials to Avoid: Fur, Leather, Shearling, Sheepskin, Suede, Down, Wool, Cashmere, Angora, Mohair, Pashmina, Silk and Fleece (this is a form of wool).
Materials to Look For: Cotton, Bamboo, Polyester, Nylon, Man-Made Materials, Synthetic Materials, Faux Suede/Microsuede, Satin, Rubber, Pinetax, Polar Fleece (made from synthetic fibers).
Brands who have vegan alternatives:
Together, we can make a difference! We only have one planet. Be fair, choose vegan!
Stefanie Schafer | @stefthetofuqueen
Stefanie is an animal rights activist and vegan makeup artist from Melbourne. She spends most of her time fighting for animal liberation, educating the public or being creative in some way.