You probably already know about the 115 million animals used globally in laboratory experiments each year around the world (including rabbits, rats, mice, dogs, cats, guinea pigs, birds, fish, farm animals, and other species). What about the fashion industry?
You can tell if a fashion brand is cruelty-free by looking at the labels. An ethical fashion brand doesn't use any animal products or by-products to make fashion.
There is a lot of animal cruelty going on in the textile and apparel industry. It's very shocking, especially when there are already so many alternatives available.
Why do fashion brands and retailers keep using animals and inhumane practices to make clothing?
Animals are enslaved, exploited, subjected to painful treatments, and exposed to dangerous substances with long-term disastrous effects on ecosystems and human health.
Billions of animals are brutally slaughtered each year for the clothing industry.
The fashion industry is cruel. It uses animal products and by-products to make clothing pushed to runway shows, high-street stores, and online shops.
Brutal farming, trapping, and skinning of animals occur too often to make fur, wool, or leather.
The cruelty of leather for fashion
Unfortunately, very few people know how inhumane the production of leather gloves, jackets, coats, and boots really is.
Most leather is made in China or India. Animals are forced to walk for days without food, water, or rest. Many perish in atrocious conditions after being dehorned or branded.
Extremely dangerous chemicals are used to treat their skin before they can be used for clothing. Tanneries impose high cancer risks on their workers.
How wool make sheep suffer
Wool is often used in functional clothing worldwide to make warm and comfortable garments.
But there is no need to shear sheep contrary to popular belief. They don't like being sheared at all simply because they never like being caught for any reason.
Sheep naturally produce the right amount of wool it needs. They always shed their winter coat before spring in natural environments much like most other animals.
Unfortunately, profits come first in most industries and most sheep are sheared too often at the wrong time of the year. They walk long-distances and live in crowded conditions before dying from exposure, dehydration, exhaustion, and injury.
Demand for wool, leather, and fur is still rising at an alarming rate, although we now have plenty of other choices when it comes to textures and fabrics. This has to stop.
No animal should have to die or suffer to make beautiful, stylish, and affordable clothing.
There is no benefit of wearing wool, fur or leather when so many effective alternatives exist.
Read up our article on wool and the future of fabrics to learn more about the alternatives.
Luckily, as consumers, we have the power to drive change. We choose what clothes we buy and who we support with our money. We have to demand measures that ensure the protection of animals at all times.
Fashion brands going fur-free
There are no welfare standards that make fur, wool, or leather production ethical. It's not ethical at all to exploit animals when we absolutely don't have to. It's unethical to remove the skin of animals to make a coat.
Designer brands like Versace and Furla already decided to stop using real fur completely in their new collections since March 2018.
“Fur? I am out of that. I don’t want to kill animals to make fashion. It doesn’t feel right.”
- Donatella Francesca Versace, Versace Chief Creative Officer as told to 1843 Magazine
There are already many well-known brands avoiding fur, such as Armani, Calvin Klein, Gucci, Michael Kors, and Vivienne Westwood. Other brands should do the same.
Ethical consumerism is on the rise. Fur has no place in 21st-century fashion. People want to buy from brands that they believe are doing their best to improve their social and environmental impact.
Animals living and being killed in shocking conditions are very common in the fashion industry. The most commonly bred animals for their fur are minks and foxes.
Animal cruelty shouldn't exist in any modern and civilized society.
The use of fur in fashion isn't ethical. But some people still believe that we should keeping using natural materials such as fur, leather, wool, down, silk, and feathers to minimize the environmental impact of fashion.
There are reports, studies, lobbyists, activists, and scientists working on both sides of the argument and providing different assessments.
Hazardous chemicals are still used to prevent putrefaction up to unsafe levels. But the poor treatment of animals goes beyond its impact on climate change. It's an emotional and ethical issue.
More consumers are now turning to alternative materials. Fashion brands should work to meet consumers' demands.
Animals products and by-products used for fashion
Animals are brutally slaughtered to make leather, fur, wool, shearling, and cashmere wool.
But there are also other animal materials in the fashion industry such as silk, mohair, goose down and down feathers.
Many animals are commonly farmed, trapped and killed each year to make clothing, including coyotes, seals, sheep, silkworms, minks, foxes, antelopes, wolves, raccoons, beavers, lynxes, rabbits, cats, and dogs.
Simply refuse to wear any item made from these materials and you will help diminish the suffering of these animals tremendously.
Billions of animals suffer and die for clothing and accessories each year. Some are caged for life, others are beaten and mutilated. If any material comes from an animal, it involves an enormous amount of cruelty.
Ditch clothing made from animal-derived materials and do your best to persuade others to do the same.
Recognizing cruelty-free fashion brands
Animal-derived materials are often deliberately mislabeled. Production often occurs in countries where animal welfare laws are non-existent.
There is no easy way to trace what animal was killed to make the clothes you find in high street stores. But one thing is certain: no animal wants to die to be transformed into apparel and accessories.
The production of animal-derived materials also contributes to climate change, land devastation, pollution, and water contamination.
Instead, choose vegan materials. It might be difficult to distinguish them as they now look pretty similar to their animal-derived counterparts.
Pick clothing pieces that are vegan, ecological, fair, ethical and made from sustainable resources.
If you are new to sustainable fashion, our comprehensive guide on the top 10 eco-friendly fabrics will certainly help you out.
There is simply no excuse for animals to die for fashion.
A clothing brand is cruelty-free when all products are made from vegan alternatives. No leather, fur, or wool.
If a fashion brand is selling materials made of animal parts, the brand isn't cruelty-free or ethical. Stay away.
I stopped buying animal products completely back in 2015 and never looked back. You can do it too!
I now work hard every day to encourage fashion designers, brands, retailers, and consumers to shop eco-friendly and cruelty-free alternatives.
I partner with compassionate designers, brands, and retailers to showcase sustainable products and promote vegan options.
You can help as well. You can save animals' lives by simply choosing beautiful cruelty-free clothing from ethical fashion brands.
You can find something in all price ranges in high street stores, online marketplaces or high-end boutiques.
There are now many cruelty-free and stylish options. Don't wear animal skins!
About the Author: Alex Assoune
Alex Assoune (MS) is a global health and environmental advocate. He founded Panaprium to inspire others with conscious living, ethical, and sustainable fashion. Alex has worked in many countries to address social and environmental issues. He speaks three languages and holds two Master of Science degrees in Engineering from SIGMA and IFPEN schools.