Tim Gunn, a fashion consultant, television personality, and chief creative officer at Liz Claiborne, believes in freedom of choice, but he urges people to make fully informed choices when it comes to wearing fur, leather, and wool. He recently narrated Fashion Victims, an eye-opening video that shows viewers exactly what happens to animals whose skins wind up in retail stores. If you wear any animal pelts, you may want to watch the video and sign the pledge to choose only cruelty-free fashions. Or, show the video to anyone else who may be compelled to make kinder clothing choices.
Millions of minks, foxes, beavers, and other fur-bearing animals are trapped, drowned, beaten, electrocuted, suffocated, or skinned alive for their fur every year, and countless cows, pigs, goats, and sheep suffer and die for the leather, and wool industries. (Leather isn’t “just” a slaughterhouse byproduct. Slaughterhouses rely on the sale of skins to remain profitable; skin is the most economically important byproduct of the meat-packing industry.)
Wool production involves more than a simple shearing. Much of the world’s wool comes from Australia, where farmers cut hunks of flesh off of lambs’ hindquarters—a painful procedure known as mulesing. When Australian sheep age and no longer produce as much wool, they’re shipped to slaughter in Middle Eastern countries with few animal welfare regulations. (Click here to learn more about wool production in Australia and other countries.)
Fortunately, it’s easy to find stylish, animal-friendly alternatives to fur, leather, and wool. A number of companies, including Alternative Outfitters, matt & nat, MooShoes, Pangea, and Vegan Essentials, sell only vegan products, and many other retailers, including Delia’s, Ecolution, New Balance, Skechers, and Zappos.com, sell at least some leather and fur alternatives. (Four companies—Patagonia, Payless ShoeSource, NY Artificial, and Jaan J.—just won Proggy Awards from PETA for their animal-friendly fashions.).
Countless other companies sell animal-free apparel made from cotton blends, rayon, polyester fleece, and other cruelty-free fibers. They’re just as warm as wool, but kinder (and less itchy). A growing number of retailers, including Abercrombie & Fitch, H&M, Nike, Gap, Marks & Spencer, Hugo Boss, Timberland, American Eagle, Columbia Sports Wear, Liz Claiborne, and Kukdong Corporation, the manufacturer and distributor of Pierre Cardin, NAFNAF, and Jack & Jill brands, refuse to use Australian wool in their garments until mulesing and live exports stop.
By pledging never to wear wool, leather, and fur—and showing Fashion Victims to your friends and family—you can help save animals’ skin. You can also help animals by distributing anti-fur leaflets in front of fur salons or operas, theaters, and other places where people tend to wear fur. Spread the word about leather and wool by writing letters, wearing pro-animal buttons or stickers, holding demonstrations, and distributing literature. Try handing out leaflets in shopping centers, malls, and schools, or leaving a stack at your gym, doctor’s office, or hair salon. Whatever you do, keep at it. After all, compassion never goes out of fashion.