Are clothes to KILL for? Animal rights within the Fashion Industry

It is estimated that over 2 billion animals are controlled within the fashion industry every year for their wool, fur and leather industries, not to say that many of these are kept captive in brutal, unbearable living conditions and abused for the making of pieces of clothing. With new brands entering the market and consumers wanting to stay on top of trends faster than ever, the fashion industry will only get bigger. Nevertheless, the industry’s ethical issues still lie beneath all of this. Even though many businesses are trying to make their clothes more environmentally friendly, this article will focus on how much this sector has progressed regarding environmental effects, particularly concerning animal care. 

“some organisations did not verify that animals were unconscious before severing their heads or breaking their necks”

What are Animal Rights? 

Animal rights have established that non-human animals should be free to live as they wish, without being used, exploited, or otherwise interfered with by humans. This implies that since animals and people are equals, they shouldn’t be made to suffer cruel treatment or be taken advantage of. Even though this topic has received a lot of media attention, the cruel treatment of animals tragically persists; many businesses mask the unethicality of their companies and conceal the actual issues in the background. However, these issues are still attempting to break through into mainstream media to highlight how the fashion industry may not be as ethical as we once thought. 

How are animals used in the fashion industry? 

Fur first emerged in the 15th century with accessories such as ear muffs and gradually transgressed to long oversized coats in the 1940s. This material has been a symbol of wealth and high social class. It was only until the 1980s that campaigns began to disclose the violence inflicted upon a range of species. This involves packing them into claustrophobic cages where they endure painful lives filled with fear, stress, and disease. Fur farmers use brutal killing methods, including electrocution, poisoning, and gassing. Even more savagely, some organisations did not verify that animals were unconscious before severing their heads or breaking their necks. However, fur has become less common in clothes over the past ten years, with several manufacturers outlawing the usage of genuine furs. Numerous well-known companies, including Gucci, have become involved in animal rights campaigns on the use of fur. 

Despite a decrease in the use of fur, the use of leather sadly cannot be the same. The leather industry is continuing to increase, with this process done to a range of animals, but predominantly cows. The animals have been torn away and separated from their families, often kept in mud-filled pens and, like with the fur industry, can have their bodies chopped at whilst conscious. Currently, the leather industry is worth £212 billion globally and is expected to increase by 6.6% by 2030.

The fashion sector has seen a sharp increase in trends. New directions would be seasonal at first. They have since shrunk to once a week, indicating a quicker need for retail garment delivery and, consequently, arguably less consideration for animal environments. Mass amounts of energy and water are needed to make garments, and synthetic fibres devastate an animal’s habitat. And sadly, because of the quick turnaround of trends, 85% of all textiles go to the dumps yearly.  

What can we do to help? 

  1. Know about the brand- It can be challenging to distinguish which brands are ethical and which are not. By looking at their website, there will be their aims and objectives. Also, an excellent app to use is Good on You, which gives ratings on brands with their treatment of labour, environment and animals. It will also suggest more similar ethical brands to shop at instead. 
  2. Find a personal style- by finding a unique style, fashion consumers will be less inclined to keep up to date with trends, meaning buying and throwing out clothes. Begin by having staple pieces that are timeless and versatile, meaning you can create a range of outfits from them. Finding a personal style is beneficial in many ways: saving money, wardrobe space and the planet! 
  3. Shop alternatives- there are many alternatives to buy in the fashion industry; major companies are beginning to expand their products to have vegan and animal cruelty-free products. They may cost more, but it is comforting to know that when they are purchased, they are more likely to be environmentally friendly, ethical and sustainable. 

Shop independent and smaller brands- many big brands can take advantage of smaller brands by stealing their ideas and mass-producing their product. Whilst it may be cheaper for us as consumers to shop at high retail brands, it is much more environmentally friendly to shop at smaller local brands that have not used synthetic fibres and less energy and water in production and transportation. It is also a great feeling knowing the money is going to the rightful owner of the garment. 

  1. Reduce, reuse, and recycle- from borrowing your friend’s clothes to going to a clothes swap, there are many ways to help. Charity shops are also a great way to put this into action. Buying a piece of second fashion means that the environment and animals have not been put through the torture of making a new garment. It is an affordable fashion with most pieces in excellent condition and made with firm materials. The money goes to a much more profitable cause than shopping fast fashion, and it is always a great feeling when a unique piece has been found that no one else will have!

The fashion industry is constantly changing, so it is society’s responsibility to make conscious choices about the kind of products that are bought that help the environment and protect animal rights. Due to the current state of the climate and treatment of animals, hopefully, people will begin to reconsider and prioritise a fashion industry that can live alongside animals. 

Kate Hayhurst

Featured image courtesy of Geranimo via Unsplash Image license found here. No changes were made to this image. 

In article image 1 courtesy of @directioneverywhere via No changes were made to this image. 

In article image 2 courtesy of @herdotie via No changes were made to this image. 

In article image 3 courtesy of @officeshoes via No changes were made to this image. 

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