Compassion in Fashion

By Danielle K.

There are many social issues in the world: hunger, homelessness, world peace and the list continues. Many of these causes have major celebrities, actors, actresses, and models behind them to bring them to the forefront of people’s minds. However, there is one problem that is becoming more ethically challenging- the treatment and abuse of animals in the fashion industry and how to make a change.
Many centuries ago, animal fur was used as a means of survival to escape the harsh cold of the winter. Today, it’s just another accessory to add to our wardrobe. With all of the new types of fabrics people have today, there is no reason why people should continue to wear leather, fur, or other types of animal skin. Gandhi once said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated”. Fortunately, many of today’s designers would be given ‘two paws up’ for their heartfelt consideration on the behalf of the lives of animals.
One such designer who would never be caught designing products with the use of fur or leather is Stella McCartney. Stella, the daughter of former Beatles member Paul McCartney and Linda Eastman, is a designer famous for her expensive, yet animal-friendly, clothing and accessories. Since she started designing in 2001, she has always criticized people who use animal products in their work. Instead of using real fur, leather, and feathers, she uses man-made and natural materials in her designs that radiate her staunch stances on animal rights. McCartney encourages other designers to do the same as she says, “There’s no excuse for fur in this day and age”. People like herself are making a change in the world of animal rights.
Fur has always been a controversial subject in fashion, and now more than ever the consumer has the ability to research and decide where he or she wants to spend their money. It is an area where money and ethics converge in fashion. Groups like PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) were once able to cause a media frenzy every time they shamed a celebrity for wearing fur, which actually worked for a while. Eventually, celebrities stopped wearing fur as it became unfashionable and unconscionable.
Unfortunately, fur seems to be trending again. The ‘out of sight out of mind’ mentality inevitably is what keeps much of the world okay with wearing fur. Fur companies repeatedly entice people into purchasing their products with new techniques and stylish advertising. Also, these popular big businesses do not release to the public the horrors of killing an animal for a mere handbag, so people will obliviously buy what they don’t know about.
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Wild animals such as mink, foxes, raccoons and many more innocent creatures are senselessly caught and locked in tiny cages. They proceed to undergo horrendous stress and painful side effects, then are brutally killed in unorthodox methods. As said by McCartney, “Over 50 million animals are killed just for fashion”. While one may hesitate to believe this, there are no federal humane slaughter laws or regulations to protect how fur animals are killed. After all, it can take up to 40 animals to make one coat.
Fortunately, for those who love the look of fur, feathers and leather, there is always faux, which means fake or a copy. Looks can be deceiving so why not browse the racks of stores like Forever 21, Zara, H&M, Charlotte Russe, Payless and other similar fashion outlets for a non-animal outfit. These stores may copy the top designers, but not their prices. As well as keeping their prices low, they use faux leather and fur. This way a fashionista will get the tres chic look, save money, and most importantly, save animals lives.
There are many designers who feel the compassion in fashion and will not use fur in their collections. In addition to the first and most outspoken, Stella McCartney, her father Paul McCartney has teamed up with the animal rights group PETA to produce a video called “Glass Walls” which exposes abuse in the animal industry. There are many other designers who have the same motives as the McCartneys. Vivienne Westwood, a well known British designer and a long time vegetarian, also refuses to use fur after learning about the fur industry. Tommy Hilfiger stopped using fur in 2007 after meeting with animal rights activists. Calvin Klein ditched the use of fur products in 1994 due to his own reflections on the inhumane treatment in the fur industry. Ralph Lauren decided to stop using fur in his company after seeing graphic undercover footage of fur farms in China. Not just designers, but also stores such as H&M and Selfridge will not sell any fur products in their stores. Celebrities are also included in the cause. Pink, the singer, is an outspoken animal lover who spends nearly as much time defending animals as she does singing. (this last sentence should be in another paragraph)
The beauty of getting the message across for this harsh treatment of animals is that anyone can speak up. No one needs millions of followers or supporters to make their voice heard and create a change. What can also be done is to not wear fur and to boycott any designer, store or singer that supports the use of animal fur, write to newspapers about the issue, write to your State Senators and Congressman asking for the end of the barbaric fur trade and anything else that gets the message heard. It is so important that we speak up, educate, and share information about what is happening with these innocent animals. As said by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well being of a person or animal is at stake”. We need to be the voice they don’t have…if not now, when.

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