We know it’s crucial our clothes are kind to the planet and the people who make them – but what about our somewhat smaller, furrier friends? To find out how you can have a wardrobe that prioritises animal welfare, read this handy guide to the biggest animal-cruelty culprits and how to avoid them.
Make fur a faux pas
There’s a reason she wasn’t called Kind-ella de Vil. While the use of dalmatian fur in coats is thankfully somewhat out of fashion, there’s still a long way to go in ensuring the global use of animal fur products is brought to an end.
The fur trade sources 95% of its fur from the millions of animals currently housed in small cages on fur farms, with death caused by neglect, electrocution, gassing or neck-breaking, and it’s not just fur coats that benefit from this horror – in Australia, fur can be found on jacket trims, handbags and even children’s toys. Alarmingly, a 2019 investigation into the prevalence of fur in Australia found animal fur was being sold as ‘faux fur’ across several Victorian retail outlets, with one jacket’s ‘faux fur’ fibres proven to come from an animal – most likely a raccoon dog.
To avoid this kind of awful faux pas, avoid all fur – including faux, unless you’re 100% sure of its provenance.
Alarmingly, a 2019 investigation into the prevalence of fur in Australia found animal fur was being sold as ‘faux fur’ across several Victorian retail outlets, with one jacket’s ‘faux fur’ fibres proven to come from an animal – most likely a raccoon dog.
Be cosy, not cruel
The still-rife process of mulesing – a practice whereby 6–12-week-old lambs are restrained while strips of skin are sliced away from their backside – continues to be the horrific reality for millions of Aussie lambs. Originally carried out to prevent the parasitic condition flystrike, mulesing has now been superseded by better, cruelty-free flystrike management alternatives – yet sadly, the Aussie wool industry has been slow to catch up.
Since mulesing causes stress, fear and a painful wound that can take weeks to heal, the support for mulesed wool has long been on the decline in Europe and is slowly starting to be shunned by larger Australian retailers, including Country Road and David Jones. When stocking up on your winter woollens, make sure you always look for brands that declare their non-mulesed wool status.
Make your holidays exotic, not your leather
It may shock you to learn that the exotic leather industry – including crocodiles, pythons, alligators and ostriches, among others – is still booming, with millions of animals slaughtered globally for their skins. It’s a decidedly murky trade – these animals can suffer poor treatment on farms and brutal slaughter methods, and the lines are blurred between the illegal trade and the legal farming of animals.
Now officially declared passe by major high-end brands (including Chanel, Victoria Beckham and Vivienne Westwood) as well as Topshop, H&M and UK department store Selfridges, exotic skin is thankfully becoming easier to avoid due to clever innovation – look out for plant-based leathers, like the nifty pineapple-based Pinatex, instead.
IMAGE: PINATEX, A PLANT-BASED LEATHER MADE FROM PINEAPPLE.
Ditch the non-ethical down
Still used by many major brands – especially those who specialise in winter or outdoor apparel – down is sadly often sourced through the brutal practice of live-plucking ducks and geese. Requiring up to 40 geese to make just one duvet, live-plucking is both hugely painful and difficult to regulate within remote factories, and often occurs alongside the practice of force-feeding animals to produce foie gras.
Although some brands have risen to the challenge of using ethical down – in 2018, Patagonia, for example, became the very first outdoor brand to be certified by the Advanced Global Traceable Down Standard – many still have a long way to go. If in doubt, only buy certified products made from ducks and geese who haven’t suffered live-plucking or force-feeding.
Take the pledge for a kinder future
To make sure everything you wear is a truly kind choice, animal protection organisation Four Paws Australia has created the Wear it Kind campaign – a movement that aims to bring animal welfare to the forefront of fashion.
With the message that no animal should be killed or hurt to make clothing or accessories, the campaign shows the reality of animal cruelty throughout various areas of the fashion trade and gives people easy tips for building a better, kinder wardrobe. As well as urging brands to be transparent about what they do, Four Paws is asking consumers to choose long-lasting, sustainable or preloved clothing; reduce their animal-based fashion choices; support brands that use ethical practices; and call on all brands to protect animals in their supply chains.
To find out how you can pledge to Wear it Kind (and maybe even snap a selfie of yourself in animal-friendly fashion), head to the Four Paws ‘Wear it Kind’ website – because being kind is always a good look.