Animal byproducts have been used as clothing for centuries. In a modern world, I question why these materials are still being used. With the immense amount of synthetic leathers and faux furs in the industry, why do designers insist on using these products? According to Born Free USA, a national animal advocacy nonprofit, more than 50 million animals are bred and killed each year solely for the fashion industry Some designers have claimed they are taking steps to move in a cruelty-free direction, but I don’t buy it.
What many people aren’t aware of about the fashion industry is that the fur could come from any animal. Millions of cats and dogs, common American household pets, are killed in China and relabeled as “other” fur. There have even been instances of real fur being labeled as “faux” to trick consumers. For instance, a dog’s fur could be mislabeled as fox and sold in America to unknowing consumers. Doesn’t sound all that great, does it? The problem with this, though, is that many people would agree having a dog-fur coat is inhumane, but a mink coat would be fine. There is a double standard in the fur and fashion industry. Consumers would refuse to purchase fur if it was labeled as a household pet, but if it was a wild animal they wouldn’t mind.
In a perfect world, the fur industry wouldn’t even exist, but it does. It all seems to stem from some sort of social status hierarchy I don’t understand. Back in the 1940s and 50s, fur was a symbol of social ranking; only the wealthy could afford to purchase fur so wearing it was a sign of financial flourishment. The same goes for today’s society. In pop culture and media, thousands of celebrities are photographed wearing fur daily. These celebrities are like icons in today’s world; people see them doing/wearing something and all of a sudden it’s accepted. Take a look at America’s prized family- the Kardashians. Love them or hate them, there are countless images of the Kardashian-Jenner girls wearing fur or leather. The family is socially responsible for everything they say and do, but fur seems to be the one thing people ignore. So many young people idolize this family, and little do they know participating in a cruel and awful culture of killing animals.
In a recent PR announcement, fashion house Gucci said the label will go fur-free as of 2018. This is an incredible step towards a fur-free fashion industry, but the brand has yet to address if leather will continue to be used in the clothing. While this is an step other brands should follow, the brands cannot praise themselves if they continue to utilize animal products like leather. The baby steps towards a truly cruelty-free fashion industry have begun. Slowly but surely, I have hope that the industry will come to an end with protecting cruelty brands.