Millions of animals are farmed, hunted, abused and killed to make clothing, footwear and accessories.
Fur farming has been banned in the UK since 2003. However, the sale of fur is still legal. These days, most people wouldn’t wear a full-length fur coat but they may not realize that the trim and pompoms on collars, hoods, scarves, bags and boots could be real strips of fur or real tails. Cheap fur items have been found to be made of cat and dog fur. Always check the label of furry items to make sure you’re buying 100% synthetic. (That said, not all labels can be trusted, as real fur has been found on sale disguised as fake.)
Leather is not a byproduct 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. 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 found shocking evidence of angora rabbits literally being skinned alive. The footage caused global outrage and was so horrendous multiple designers and high street retailers pledged to discontinue using angora.
Down (feathers) used to line puffa 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.