The products that we buy have the power to encourage a change that can stop slaughter or brutal treatment of animals. The contentious issues of the fashion industry, including the killing of foxes, minks, raccoons, or alligators, have continued. Many such fur and leather brands are produced via massive breeding in industrial-scale farms just for their fur.
In many countries, alligators are bred in single tanks and slaughtered at the age of three. It is said that three to four alligators' skins are used to make one single handbag. Besides these, factory breeding requires more energy for artificial fur coats and the usage of a strong chemical process to prevent fur and leather from rotting in closets. The fur industries are producing toxic levels of metal pollution.
Some animal protection groups like PETA (People of the Ethical Treatment of Animals) strongly encourage cruelty-free or animal-friendly products such as substitution for animal fur for vegan materials. Thanks to sustained campaigns by rights groups and celebrities, people are getting more conscious about using cruelty-free products (not tested on animals) and vegan (zero animal-derived ingredients).
India is said to be the first country in Asia to have banned the testing of cosmetic products on animals. Does this mean that we can’t see or buy these products anymore? No, we can still find some of these famous brands such as, Nars, Mac, Estee Lauder, etc which continue to be tested on these innocent animals. Similarly, we must be aware that using animals for fashion is unethical. Furthermore, clothing brands such as Chloe, Canada Goose, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Prada continue to use animal skin to make their fashion brands.
Credits: Diego Azubel/EPA
The vegan way
In the fashion industry, many luxury markets are interested in vegan brands which is now a trending topic. A sustainable and vegan product is something fresh in the fashion world. Veganism has always been a buzzword in all kinds of social media, but do you know these natural plant-based fabrics (khadi, hemp, linen, jute) may be cruelty-free towards animals but not towards the environment. Vegan fashion protects animals, but it is not a sustainable solution.
Veganism has set a benchmark for the millennials and Gen Z who make sure that no animals are harmed as a result of their beauty and fashion products. These alternatives such as plastic-based products and PVCs are also extremely toxic and hazardous to our environment and in turn, raise plastic pollution. Many fashion brands embrace the concept of vegan and nonplastic and always try to reduce their carbon footprint. However, the road to produce sustainable and pure natural plant-based products is long and full of hurdles, but it’s the only way to achieve greener earth.
The manufacturing process of artificial fur is much easier than that of natural fur. It is manufactured using artificial fibre similar to the fur of knitted floor covers. The advantages of artificial fur are that it can be easily dyed, stored, and washed and has a low production cost. It is highly favourable to the altruistic younger generations who care more for the environment and pay more attention to fashion.
Vegan leather is processed via polyurethane chloride (PVC) and polyurethane or natural ingredients such as cork, pineapple leaves, and apple skin instead of using cowhides or sheepskin. The first brand that came up with absolutely vegan products is Stella McCartney, followed up by brands such as Free People, Bungalow 360, Olsenhaus, KANABIS, Dr Botanical, Ruby’s, Kaiyare, etc.
Cell cultures, Human tissue, volunteer tests, and computer models are alternatives for cruelty-free. These are the best alternatives to rather than using animal-tested products. Using artificial products for clothing and footwear and avoiding these animal-based products are appreciable. Many consumers relate to terms or concepts such as animal protection, animal abuse, and animal rights. There is also an increasing consumer interest in vegan fashion. Ultimately it is we the consumer who should make the informed choice for a better future.