The Use of Animals in the Fashion Industry (2022)

By Alex Assoune

Animal cruelty is everywhere in the fashion industry. Even if men and women have been using animals for clothing for thousands of years, today it's cruel and unnecessary.

The global textile and apparel industry kills billions of animals every year for fashion. Their pelts and skins are used to make products such as fur, wool, leather, down, and silk.

Clothing and accessories made from animal products and by-products are widely produced in the fashion world. A lot of sweaters, coats, jackets, shoes, bags, and belts are responsible for the mass-trapping and farming of animals.

Most consumers don't realize the damage they are causing by buying and wearing these items. Even with so many available alternatives to their fast fashion consumption, they keep their excessive shopping habits.

No animal should have to suffer to make beautiful and functional clothes. Animal cruelty has no place in modern society.

As consumers, we should care more about how our clothes are being made and the impact of our wardrobe on the planet, people, and animals living on it.

The fashion industry is one of the largest in the world. It's also the second most polluting industry globally. Apparel production has doubled over the last 15 years to meet consumers' demand.

What we choose to wear has a huge impact. Our values and lifestyles matter on a global scale. Our clothing choices not only enrich our lives but also shape the future we leave for our children.

It’s time to look deeply into the use of animals in the fashion industry. We must change the negative impact of fashion into a more ethical, positive, and empowering reality.

Panaprium is proud to be 100% independent, free of any influence, and not sponsored. We carefully handpick products from brands we trust. Thank you so much for buying something through our link, as we may earn a commission that supports us.

Wearing animal fur is cruel

The Use of Animals in the Fashion Industry (1)

Animal fur is one of the oldest forms of clothing. Today, it's used as a luxury in fashion to make clothing such as capes, parkas, vests, boleros, coats, and jackets.

Minks, goats, foxes, coyotes, wolves, rabbits, even cats, and dogs are killed to make fur clothes in the textile industry. Fur pelts are obtained from furry animal hide, animal skins with hair left.

About 245 mink farms in 22 states across the United States produce around 3.1 million pelts annually, according to the Fur Commission.

“85% of the fur industry’s skins come from animals raised in battery cages in fur farms, where animals are deprived of the quality of life.”

-Animals Australia, a leading animal protection organization

Every year, millions of animals are poorly treated, beaten, electrocuted, or skinned alive to make fur clothes. It's unacceptable. Today, buying and wearing fur clothes is irrelevant and outdated.

Many fashion designers and brands such as Armani, Calvin Klein, Gucci, Michael Kors, Vivienne Westwood choose to avoid fur completely. A lot of A-list celebrities and social media personalities are also against the use of real fur in fashion.

"Fur? I am out of that. I don’t want to kill animals to make fashion. It doesn’t feel right."

- Donatella Francesca Versace, Versace Chief Creative Officer

"I am against the contemporary practice of commercial farming of animal fur. Period. It is abusive and not eco-friendly. On the other hand, I am not against indigenous folks and people living in a similar subsistence situation securing and using furs for warmth to survive."

- Dr. Jane Hudak, Ph. D. in Art Education from The Ohio State University

Many animal rights organizations such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) mobilize consumers, organizations, and public figures to boycott fur clothes because it's cruel and unnecessary.

Read more...

(Video) Animals in fashion: everything you need to know in 12 minutes

Endangered species are killed for fashion

The Use of Animals in the Fashion Industry (2)

The fashion industry is responsible for the trapping and skinning of many endangered animals each year. The fur and leather trade threatens many animal species that should be protected.

Trappers and hunters kill a large number of reptiles, kangaroos, ostriches, beavers, wild cats, bears, antelopes, and seals to sell their pelt that will be used in fashion.

(Video) #01: The Use of Animals Inside the Fashion Industry | Nicolette Shane Lacara

Fashion threatens many of these wildlife species with extinction. It's very common for wildlife and endangered animals to suffer immense pain, being trapped, caged, and skinned alive to make textiles.

Luckily, organizations such as The International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species provides information about uses, trade, and threats to encourage action for biodiversity conservation.

Many wild animals are protected by law under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). However, the poaching and illegal international trade of threatened animals continue to this day.

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Wool production is unethical

The Use of Animals in the Fashion Industry (3)

Contrary to popular belief, wool production is cruel and unethical. Wool is arguably the most misunderstood animal product used in the fashion industry.

More than 95% of all wool comes from mass production globally. And mass production isn't ethical. Wool production grew to 1.155 million kg in 2018, made from 1.177 billion sheep around the world, according to the International Wool Textile Organisation (IWTO).

Many animals die in the global wool industry. Wool is obtained from goats, sheep, muskox, camelids, or rabbits. These animals don't like being caught and don't need shearing from humans.

To produce wool, animals are enslaved, exploited, subjected to painful treatments, and exposed to dangerous substances with long-term disastrous effects on ecosystems and human health.

Wool production has a disastrous impact on the environment. The farming and processing of wool pollute the air, soil, and water, producing tons of greenhouse gases and wastes. Unfortunately, many people still believe that wool is an environmentally friendly material.

“It would be absurd to replace wool, a natural material, with plastic fibers which do not degrade, are made from fossil fuel, and may end up polluting the ocean.”

- Phil Stocker, Chief Executive Officer of the National Sheep Association

Every year to make wool, billions of animals are mutilated and cut into slavery. Animal welfare is rarely considered in the fashion industry as it raises animals to make profits.

There is no need to wear wool to stay warm today. There are plenty of ethical and sustainable alternatives such as organic cotton, linen, lyocell, or recycled fabrics.

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Leather mass-slaughters animals

(Video) Use of Animals in Fashion Industry

The Use of Animals in the Fashion Industry (4)

Leather is an animal-derived product that has been used for clothing for thousands of years. But the fact that the majority of people are okay with it doesn't make it right.

The leather industry brutally slaughters billions of animals every year for fashion.

2.29 billion cows, calves, buffaloes, goats, and pigs were killed for their hide and skin to make leather in 2018, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

159 million animals are slaughtered to make leather each year in the United States. That number is four times higher than in 1980.

Many other animals such as seals, sheep, deer, alligators, snakes, zebras, sharks, cats, and dogs are killed to produce leather. They are often hunted, caged, farmed, and skinned alive.

Animals are farmed in factories under inhumane conditions. They lived in crowded environments. are deprived of liberty, and subjected to painful treatments.

Leather tanning causes the suffering of billions of animals around the world. It's also very destructive to the environment, ecosystems, and human health.

It requires tons of toxic chemicals for washing, bleaching, tanning, dyeing, and treating animal-derived textiles that pollute nearby environments, rivers, water sources, and soils.

Leather isn't just a byproduct of the meat industry. On its own, the leather industry is already very lucrative. The skins and hides are the most valuable parts of animals, as reported by Bloomberg.

Buying leather goods doesn't prevent waste. Some leather comes from animals slaughtered for their meat. But the best leather is made from very young animals that have smooth skin, and no scratch or parasite yet.

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Silk involves animal exploitation

The Use of Animals in the Fashion Industry (5)

Silk production is responsible for the exploitation and killing of sensitive animals, silkworms. Instead of buying silk, choose the many animal-free alternatives available today.

Silk has been considered a luxury and one of the finest fiber in the fashion world for thousands of years. Today, many clothing designers and brands use silk to make blouses, suits, lingerie, loungewear, dresses, sleepwear, and shirts.

Like other insects, silkworms are animals. Hundreds of thousand silkworms have to die to make silk textiles each year. About 168,300 tons of raw silk are produced annually, according to the FAO.

(Video) The use of animals in the fashion industry

More than 5,000 silkworms are necessary to produce just one kilogram of silk, according to PETA. It takes up to 2,000 cocoons to make a silk dress.

The most well-known silk is obtained from the cocoons of the larvae of the mulberry silkworm Bombyx mori. It's a commercial species of silkworms and a caterpillar of the domestic silkmoth.

But silk also involves the suffering of other animals such as ants, wasps, bees, beetles, leafhoppers, flies, and spiders. Many different insects make cocoons that are used to produce silk.

Silk production is as exploitative and cruel today as it was centuries ago. Many silkworm hatchlings die prematurely from dehydration or starvation.

In nature, silkworms chew their way out of their cocoon. However, to preserve material value, most silkworms are killed in the pupal stage by placing cocoons in boiling water.

Dropping silkworms and their cocoons into boiling water makes them potentially suffer and kills them. Collecting cocoons left by insects in the wild could make ethical silk. However, this process is inefficient, costly, and not viable for commercial use.

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Goose down and down feathers

The Use of Animals in the Fashion Industry (6)

Down is a layer of fine feathers found under the tougher exterior feathers on ducks, geese, and swans. It's praised in the fashion industry for its thermal insulation and padding. Down feathers have been used for insulation for centuries.

Down is gathered when birds are still alive or after they have been killed. Feathers do grow back. To maximize profits, most down is obtained by live-plucking without anesthetic, which is inhumane and unethical.

A single goose produces 60 grams of down. One farm admitting to producing 15 tons of down every year would process 250,000 live-pluckings, according to PETA.

Some certifications such as the Responsible Down Standard (RDS) aims to ensure that down doesn't come from animals that have been subjected to any unnecessary harm.

However, some certified suppliers are still sourcing live-plucked down. And the mass-farming and killing of animals for fashion are still damaging to the environment, unnecessary, and cruel.

Make the compassionate choice to pledge vegan and cruelty-free alternatives instead.

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(Video) Film Shows Reality of Animals Farmed for Fashion

About the Author: Alex Assoune

The Use of Animals in the Fashion Industry (7) Alex Assoune (MS) is a global health and environmental advocate. He founded Panaprium to inspire others with conscious living, ethical, and sustainable fashion. Alex has worked in many countries to address social and environmental issues. He speaks three languages and holds two Master of Science degrees in Engineering from SIGMA and IFPEN schools.

FAQs

Why are animals used in the fashion industry? ›

For almost all of human history, animals have been used in some way as source materials for fabrics and accessories. Some of these materials remain in common use – for example, wool or leather – while others, due to their rarity and expense, are used only in luxury items – such as cashmere or fur.

How are animals treated in the fashion industry? ›

Animals Used for Clothing. Every year, billions of animals suffer and die for clothing and accessories. Skin is torn from them to make leather, birds are held down while handfuls of feathers are ripped out of their sensitive skin, and small animals are caged for life before being killed for their fur.

How are animals affected by fashion? ›

Fast fashion mass produces leather. The leather industry brutally slaughters billions of animals every year for fast fashion. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), 2.29 billion cows, calves, buffaloes, goats, and pigs were killed for their hide and skin to make leather in 2018.

Which of the animal product is used in fashion industry? ›

Animals including rabbits, minks, goats, foxes, crocodiles, alpacas, llamas, kangaroos, and even dogs and cats are coveted by the fashion industry. Their fur and skins are used to make various 'luxurious' clothing items.

Should we use animals for clothing? ›

Even if men and women have been using animals for clothing for thousands of years, today it's cruel and unnecessary. The global textile and apparel industry kills billions of animals every year for fashion. Their pelts and skins are used to make products such as fur, wool, leather, down, and silk.

What animals are used to make clothes? ›

Sheep, cows, goats, lambs, reptiles, rabbits, ducks and geese are subjected to deep suffering and cruelty for their wool, skin, hair, fur and feathers that we use. But today, there are many comparable and even superior non-animal alternatives.

How can we stop animal cruelty in fashion? ›

As a rule of thumb: when shopping, go for animal-considerate fibres. Usually, you can find natural alternatives and special faux materials that are made to simply imitate the animal products. Avoid fashion items that contain animal products, such as Angora →, Down →, Fur →, Leather → or Wool →.

How many animals are killed for fashion? ›

Each year, around one hundred million animals are bred and killed on intensive fur farms specifically to supply the fashion industry with not only traditional fur coats but, increasingly, real fur trim for hooded jackets, and real fur pompoms used on hats, gloves, shoes and a range of other clothing and accessories.

How is fast fashion killing animals? ›

Animal materials are vastly used inside the industry, but the process behind this use and its implications are rarely discussed. Billions of animals are brutally killed every year for the clothing industry and tests. Mass production of fur and leather items has created a cruel system of mistreating and skinning.

Why do we wear animals? ›

They wear it to protect their flesh when they have accidents. They use it to cut windchill and protect their skin when they get smacked by bugs.

What are the five uses of animals? ›

Animals are used for ploughing agricultural fields, they provide us wool for clothing, animals provide us milk, eggs, domestic animals like dogs, cats help humans in recreation. Some animals help humans in obtaining food. Animals were also used for transportation purposes, in the past.

How do you make clothes without animals? ›

Soy cashmere

Even major brands such as H&M, Nasty Gal, and Zara now offer animal-free wool alternatives. They are new high-quality cruelty-free materials created every day. Most of them are made from organic cotton, and recycled polyester (rPET), which are much better for the environment than wool.

Are clothes made from animals? ›

Minks, foxes, and chinchillas usually come to mind when the subject of fur comes up, but countless other species are also exploited to make clothing. From the tiniest silkworm to the largest llama, animals used by the clothing industry all suffer—and most pay with their lives.

Are clothes tested on animals? ›

Companies may commission animal testing for individual ingredients or materials, even though they do not test the final products on animals. Unlike the European Union, Canada and the United States do not have official regulations on using the 'cruelty-free' term and seeing the label may not be enough.

Should we use products made with animal fur? ›

Animals are beaten, electrocuted, or skinned alive to make fur clothes. It's not acceptable. You can prevent fur farming, trapping, and trading by not buying and wearing fur clothes. Don't support companies using animal products or by-products for clothing.

What are the advantages of using animals for fur? ›

A fur coat can provide many benefits to an animal. Fur can be like a winter coat keeping the mammal warm by trapping heat. It can also be like a raincoat, teaming up with oils to help waterproof the animal. These hairs, called down hairs, are short, fuzzy, curly hairs closest to an animals' skin.

What is the connection between fashion and animals fur? ›

Humans have used leather, wool and fur for years and billions of animals are brutally slaughtered each year for the clothing industry. Mass production of fur and leather items has created a cruel system of farming, trapping, and skinning and, has sparked uproar among animal rights activists.

What animals are killed for fashion? ›

US – total 3.1m mink. European Union – total 37.8m (34.7m mink; 2.7m foxes; 166,000 raccoon dogs; 227,000 chinchilla) China – total 50.5m (20.7m mink; 17.3m fox; 12.3m raccoon dogs)

Are clothes made from animals? ›

Minks, foxes, and chinchillas usually come to mind when the subject of fur comes up, but countless other species are also exploited to make clothing. From the tiniest silkworm to the largest llama, animals used by the clothing industry all suffer—and most pay with their lives.

Why do we wear animals? ›

They wear it to protect their flesh when they have accidents. They use it to cut windchill and protect their skin when they get smacked by bugs.

Are clothes tested on animals? ›

Companies may commission animal testing for individual ingredients or materials, even though they do not test the final products on animals. Unlike the European Union, Canada and the United States do not have official regulations on using the 'cruelty-free' term and seeing the label may not be enough.

What are the five uses of animals? ›

Animals are used for ploughing agricultural fields, they provide us wool for clothing, animals provide us milk, eggs, domestic animals like dogs, cats help humans in recreation. Some animals help humans in obtaining food. Animals were also used for transportation purposes, in the past.

How do you make clothes without animals? ›

Soy cashmere

Even major brands such as H&M, Nasty Gal, and Zara now offer animal-free wool alternatives. They are new high-quality cruelty-free materials created every day. Most of them are made from organic cotton, and recycled polyester (rPET), which are much better for the environment than wool.

Videos

1. Fashion Animals
(Vegan Publishers)
2. The Link Between Animal Agriculture and the Fashion Industry
(Sentient Media)
3. ANIMAL WELFARE IN FASHION
(Technical & Quality Session)
4. Animal Cruelty in the Fashion Industry
(FrozenHuntress)
5. Animals Fur usage for the fashion industry
(Tutor Tutor)
6. Fur in Fashion Debate: Is it okay to use animal products for fashion? – Today’s Biggest News
(Behind the News)

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