Millions of animals are farmed, hunted, abused and killed to make clothing, footwear and accessories.
Most people understand that the fur trade is cruel, fur farming has been banned in the UK since 2003, and many other countries have done the same. However, the sale of real fur is still legal and most of it is mis-sold as faux. Investigations have shown that unlabelled fur sold in the UK can even come from cats and dogs. So, if you are going to buy faux fur, please ensure it is actually fake.
Leather is not a by-product of the meat industry: the sale of the animals’ skins plays a vital part in keeping animal farming and slaughter profitable.
Reptiles also suffer in the name of fashion: snakes may be nailed to trees and skinned alive, crocodiles and alligators are typically raised in farms where they are bludgeoned to death or have their spines severed with a chisel and mallet, and lizards are often decapitated before having their skin ripped off.
The production of wool also contributes to animal suffering. Shearing live animals is often carried out with little regard for welfare, causing stress and injury. Shearing of pregnant ewes in the winter is sometimes done to enable more of them to be crowded into housing and may leave them suffering from cold, at risk of contracting disease, and miscarrying. Undercover investigations of wool farms throughout the world, including the UK, have shown gentle sheep being abused, hit and mutilated. Many lambs are subjected to painful castration and, in Australia, a horrendous process called ‘mulesing’, in which chunks of flesh around their rear ends are sliced off in order to prevent flies laying eggs there.
A 2014 investigation into the Chinese angora industry shocked the world. The footage showed rabbits being abused and having their fur ripped out of their little bodies whilst fully conscious and resulted in many high street retailers and designers dropping angora.
Down (feathers) used to line puffer jackets and anoraks may come from geese and ducks who have been plucked alive. Ripping out birds’ feathers is extremely painful and distressing, and can cause them to bleed from their follicles. While some feathers come from dead birds, live plucking is done because it is more productive, as a live bird can be plucked over and over again.
Silk is made by harvesting the cocoons of millions of silkworms. It takes hundreds of silkworms to make just one scarf or tie. These harmless creatures are typically killed by being boiled alive.