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The international fur trade operates on many levels. Animal fur is no longer just used for luxury fashion garments. There is now a growing market where inexpensive items including jackets, accessories, trinkets, toys, hair bands, blankets, pens, pencil cases, jewelry etc. contain animal fur. In some shops, these products are properly labelled as containing real fur. While this is distressing to people who abhor the cruel and senseless fur trade, it is legal to sell genuine fur in South Africa.
The problem arises when these types of goods are sold as synthetic, often by reputable retailers with a fur free policy. This happens when merchandise is labelled as fake/faux fur or not labelled at all. They are mostly imports from China – a country with inadequate animal protection laws. Products such as these can include dyed and sheared rabbit, dog and cat fur, which is cheaper to manufacture than synthetic fur. The anti-fur organisation, Fur Free SA (FFSA), which I head, continues to find numerous South African retailers that are mistakenly selling real fur as fake.
As a consequence, shoppers inadvertently buy items containing real fur. Compassionate consumers want to know that their purchases are made without cruelty to animals and are understandably outraged at being duped. Stricter fur labelling laws in South Africa would help address this issue, but for now we can only turn to the Consumer Protection Act No.68 of 2008 (“CPA”) for guidelines. According to this act, retailers are prohibited from misleading the public through false descriptions of their products.
Mislabelling does not generally happen in the luxury fur range, as it is fairly straight forward to source luxury fur garments. Eighty-five percent of the world’s fur comes from fur farms. Furriers buy pelts directly from auction houses supplied by these farms worldwide. Pelts, therefore, pass through several countries before reaching the final destination to be made up into fur garments to sell to customers. These luxury garments have labels indicating the type of animal fur, for example mink, fox, chinchilla and sable. Some garments have the ORIGIN ASSURED (OA™) label, which was launched by pro-fur organisations supposedly to guarantee that origin of the fur is from a country where there are adequate welfare regulations or standards. Of note, this does not exclude countries where the factory farming of animals for fur, which is inherently cruel, is condoned.
Unless it is a luxury-brand labelled fur garment, ready-made fur clothing sold in upmarket boutiques is generally sourced from international fur fairs. Here, fur dealers sell their merchandise directly to retailers who support the fur market. The World Society for the Protection of Animals argues that weak import and labelling law makes it difficult to identify from where fur originates. Consequently, furriers and fashion retailers sell fur items without knowing their source.
In my opinion, though, people who buy fur fashion from these shops are ego-centric and don’t care about the prolonged suffering inflicted onto animals, or about environmental hazards arising in the process of fur production (See previous post @ http://bit.ly/2GklT7s).
The sourcing of inexpensive fur products is more complicated, as there are several players in the supply chain. The CPA defines a ‘‘supply chain’’, as “with respect to any particular goods or services, means the collectivity of all suppliers who directly or indirectly contribute in turn to the ultimate supply of those goods or services to a consumer, whether as a producer, importer, distributor or retailer of goods, or as a service provider”.
One would think that ethical companies would carefully monitor their supply chains? Yet fur items are slipping through and the question arises as to who is responsible for this? Where retailers have mistakenly been found selling real fur products they have consistently told FFSA that they too were misled, as it was the supplier who gave them wrong information. As already discussed, manufacturers of fur products cannot know the exact source of the fur unless they are killing and skinning the animals themselves. Investigations have shown this to be the case in China where often dogs and cats are rounded up and skinned for their fur. Suppliers then obtain finished products from the manufacturer, which are then distributed to various retailers.
FFSA has been told by small businesses that the owner sources the products directly from a supplier, by-passing a middle person. In some cases there are language difficulties perhaps accounting for the mislabelling of the stock. Here, the retailer should share some of the blame.
Once FFSA has ascertained through basic or laboratory testing that a product contains animal fur, it is up to retailers to remove these items. Some retailers such as Solo Shoes, Perocili, Polly Potters toy shop and Kingsmead Shoes did not, however, withdraw their stock. In their opinion the fur is “too cheap” and despite evidence to the contrary they believe the supplier who claims that the fur is synthetic. Other companies immediately removed the offending stock and some have apologised to the public for their mistake.
With bigger companies, accountability probably depends on the contract between them and a supplier. If their contract stipulates that a company only wants fur free products and the supplier defaults on this, then surely it is the fault of the supplier. Ideally companies should have the safeguards in place to keep real fur out of their supply chains, but is this really feasible with large retailers?
What companies can do, though, is if a supplier defaults on their side of the contract the retailer can never use that supplier again, and in this way ensure that unethical suppliers are weeded out of the system. Another safeguard could be at the shop floor level and to educate sales people how to tell the difference between real and fake fur. However, until that happens, it is still left up to consumers to be vigilant as to what they are purchasing and to complain when they are misled.
I believe that no person with integrity could support the fur industry in any way. However, numerous people are unaware of the horrific facts of the fur trade. My intention, therefore, is to present the facts of the fur trade so that people can make an informed moral choice about fur items.
Individuals with integrity consistently have strong moral principles. They are honest and their values concord with their words and actions, even in the face of conflict. To make moral choices, people need to be able to connect to all their emotions, pleasant and unpleasant. This is not easy and to avoid uncomfortable feelings people use various psychological defences to deny, avoid or minimise the reality of a bad situation.
Regarding animals, certain people deny that animals are sentient and therefore can suffer. These people might even argue that animals are put on earth solely for the benefit of humans. They may have pets and adequately care for them, yet animals are regarded as property to be disposed of at will. Viewed only as property, animals are used as a means to an end, usually for monetary gain.
Manufacturers of fur products try to objectify fur-bearing mammals so that people can avoid thinking of “fur” as sourced from living, sentient beings. Words such as harvesting instead of killing give the impression that animals are a natural resource, akin to harvesting a crop of vegetables.
In this advanced age of synthetic fabrics, real fur items are unnecessary. Hence, people who buy these items find ways to avoid empathising with the suffering of animals. They evade the truth, which enables them to disconnect from the living creatures. For example, they claim to wear mink fur and not the fur from a skinned mink, the latter statement evoking a more gruesome image. They will justify their choices by saying animals are humanely farmed and killed or that fur is “green”. This can be seen as a lack of integrity, as self-interest overrides compassion towards other species.
There is proof, however, that the fur industry is morally indefensible. It destroys animals and the environment for products that nobody needs in the 21st century. To maximise profits, the fur industry conceals or minimises these facts, which are presented as follows.
The fur industry is different to the meat industry, as every year millions of wild animals are battery-farmed or trapped solely for their fur. A single garment, depending on the fur, can be made from hundreds of animal skins. Fur products include luxury fashion garments, accessories, pet toys, key rings and various trinkets. Animals are killed specifically to make trim for hats, gloves, jackets, blankets, scarves and shoes. Without exception, fur items entail the extreme suffering of animals.
Around 85 % of the world’s fur comes from fur farms, where everything is aimed at being cost-effective. There is no regard for the animals’ well-being, as they are viewed as mere commodities. Fur animals spend their entire lives crammed into tiny, dirty metal cages where there is barely room to move let alone space for activity. Rusty wire from the cages can injure or cut the feet of these creatures. Eyes are often poked out. Cages are lined up in freezing conditions to ensure that animals grow thicker fur i.e. produce more fur. If their drinking water freezes, animals can die of thirst.
In these unnatural conditions wild animals go insane, displaying behaviour not observed in the wild. Abnormal behaviour such as cannibalism and self-mutilation occurs, as in frustration animals chew off their own tails and legs. Under these stressful conditions they attack and wound each other. Many animals die painfully from their injuries, go into organ failure from stress or suffocate. Despite this senseless loss of life, it is still more cost-effective to keep these animals in these vile conditions.
These victims lie anguished and depressed inside cages, waiting for an agonising death. To cut costs and to preserve pelts killing methods are merciless. Animals are routinely gassed, anally or vaginally electrocuted, poisoned, bludgeoned or have their necks broken and sometimes are even skinned alive. When electrocution is used, the farmer puts a metal clamp in an animal’s mouth, a metal rod in the anus, and sends a high-voltage current surging through the body. This causes the animal to have a cardiac arrest while still conscious. Sometimes the power surge forces the rod out of the anus, so the procedure must be repeated. If a lethal injection of various chemicals is used, it kills through paralysis, which can result in immobilised animals being skinned alive.
Environmental pollution from fur farms is huge. With tens of thousands of living beings kept in a small area excrement can seep into the ground water. Ammonia from accumulated faeces not only burns the eyes and lungs of animals but also pollutes the air. As only the pelt is used, bodies are dumped and left to rot. Toxic chemicals are used to stop fur bio-degrading. Fur garments are also dyed to give them a “modern” look. These toxins are harmful to the environment and to people.
About 15% of the world’s fur comes from trapped wild animals. Trapped animals cannot escape and often spend days bleeding to death. At times they gnaw off their own limbs in an effort to free themselves. Traps are indiscriminate and animals caught in error are casually discarded.
In countries with inadequate animal protection laws, such as China, millions of dogs and cats are bludgeoned, hanged and bled to death. This is cheaper than to produce synthetic fur. Because it is easier to strip fur from a warm body, animals are often skinned alive. Footage has shown that animals sometimes are fully conscious while being skinned. Even after their skin had been stripped off, breathing and eyelid movement was evident for up to five to ten minutes.
To bypass laws banning the sale of dog and cat, this fur from China can be mislabeled as faux/ synthetic fur. Real fur is often dyed and sheared. Weak import and labeling laws make it difficult to identify from where fur originates. Consequently, furriers and retailers selling fur goods do not know the exact source of the fur. This aside, no living being should be skinned for their fur.
One way of ending the torture of animals in the fur industry is not to sell or buy products containing fur of any type. Even better, a person with integrity will reinforce their actions and speak up against the fur trade, which is one of the most senseless and barbaric industries on earth.
For some time, anti-fur campaigners have requested the French brand label, The Kooples, to stop selling genuine fur.
The Kooples has now made the ethical choice and gone fur free.
The Kooples’ managing director, Nicolas Dreyfus, stated, “We are extremely concerned by animal suffering and … we’ve made the decision to stop the use of all fur in any future collections”.
A memorial to all nonhuman victims of the fur trade
A memorial to all nonhuman animals skinned for their fur
Read the full story @ http://bit.ly/2cI7OBJ
Dedicated to all non-human animals who suffer and die in captivity for human greed!
As an anti-fur activist I find the idea of buying real fur clothing for dolls offensive. Children can’t make informed choices and dressing dolls in genuine fur gives the wrong message about fur.
There is nothing glamorous about wearing the fur of another creature!
A while back INFUR magazine promoted real fur dolls’ clothes, as seen in these photos. It seems that unethical designers sell these items separately from the dolls.
Fortunately, Mattel Inc. clarifies that its Barbie is “a friend to animals” and only wears fake fur.
I still think that this promotes the look of animal fur clothing.
What do you think?
Whether originating from farms or the wild, public auctions are the principal method of selling raw (unprocessed) pelts to buyers from all over the world.
Pelts of similar type, size and quality are sorted into selected bundles, or “lots” that buyers can inspect before selling begins. This means that it is IMPOSSIBLE to tell from which farm pelts originated.
The price for each fur type is determined by market supply and demand. On conclusion of the auction, farmers and trappers receive the full value that was paid for their furs, minus a small fee charged by the auction house.
The major auction houses are:
AMERICAN LEGEND CO-OPERATIVE (North America)
KOPENHAGEN FUR (Denmark)
SAGA FURS OYJ (Finland)
NORTH AMERICAN FUR AUCTIONS (NAFA) (USA & Canada)
FUR HARVESTERS AUCTION INC. (USA & Canada)
Because fur only belongs on the animal born with it, raw pelts are kept in cold storage and treated with toxic chemicals to stop them from biodegrading.
I find this chilling!
Raccoons, like all wild animals, belong in the wild whenever possible. Sadly, they are commonly hunted and skinned for their fur.
Raccoon skin, Davy Crockett caps are particularly popular. That aside, Pumpkin is one lucky raccoon who will live in safety and comfort for the rest of her life. Pumpkin was found injured when she was a baby. The family that found and nursed Pumpkin has now integrated her into their family.Because of this early bonding experience, in all likelihood Pumpkin would not survive in the wild. As you will see from this delightful video the family makes sure Pumpkin has everything she needs to thrive.
Dedicated to all nonhuman animals who suffer for human greed!
Due to weak labelling laws, misinforming consumers about the contents of fur items has become a global problem.
Products containing animal fur can be labelled as synthetic or not labelled at all. Unsuspecting consumers buy these items assuming the fur on their garments is synthetic.
The Sun (UK) did an investigation including DNA testing on mislabelled fur goods. The results are shocking.
Below are some of the findings of the objects in this photo:
- KIDS’ SHOES (top row, left)
Label details: None
Lab finding: Most consistent with chinchilla
- BLACK COAT (top row, centre)
Label: 100 % polyester
Lab finding: Consistent with raccoon dog/fox
- BLACK SHOES (top row, right)
Lab findings: Most consistent with rabbit
- BEIGE GLOVES (middle row, centre)
Label details: None
Lab findings: Fur most consistent with rabbit
- POMPOM KEY RINGS (middle row, beige)
Lab findings: Most consistent with rabbit
- WHITE BAG (middle row, centre)
Lab finding: Most consistent with rabbit
- PURPLE CARDIGAN (middle row, right)
Lab result: Most consistent with rabbit
RED HAT (bottom row, left)
Label: 100 per cent acrylic
Lab findings: Most consistent with raccoon dog
STRIPED NECK WARMER (bottom row, middle)
Label: Polyester, acrylic and cotton
Lab findings: Most consistent with rabbit
BOBBLE HAT (bottom row, middle)
Label: 100 per cent acrylic
Lab findings: Most consistent with fox
BLACK GLOVES (bottom row, right)
Lab findings: Most consistent with rabbit
Read more @ http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/features/6816528/Animal-pelts-in-UK-High-Street-sold-as-fake-fur.html
If in doubt, please don’t buy.
Unethical fashion designers still use animal fur in their collections. These designers, including Marc Jacobs, ignore evidence showing the suffering of animals skinned for their fur.
However, there are willing models who, too, don’t care about the barbaric fur trade.
Lady Gaga is a celebrity who regularly attracts attention because of her outrageous outfits, which often include animal fur.
During the New York Fashion Week, February, 2016, Lady Gaga modelled this outfit designed by Marc Jacobs.
To be honest the green fur on this absurd outfit made me turn slightly green, and it certainly was not with envy!
AP Photos by Julie Jacobson