LONDON, United Kingdom — There's no denying that some fashion collections still look as if they were conceived in a taxidermist's basement. But any designer who still uses real fur — skin quite literally stolen off animals' backs — is seriously out of touch with today's fashion-forward dresser.
By now, most people know that there is no kind way to obtain fur, unless you are willing to go out on the motorway and dodge lorries while scraping dead foxes off the asphalt.
Exposé after exposé by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and our international affiliates has revealed that animals on fur factory farms spend their lives in tiny wire cages, often with scant to no protection from the snow and sleet in wintertime or the scorching summer sun. Many animals go insane from the confinement and the relentless frustration and resort to gnawing at their own limbs.
Eventually, they end up being electrocuted or drowned or beaten to death. In China, the world's largest supplier of fur, cats, dogs and other animals are often still alive as their skin is torn from their bodies.
Today, thank goodness, people are more aware of the horrors that some animals endure at the hands of the clothing trade and are far more conscious of what they buy and wear. Who wouldn't opt for a soft, warm and luxurious faux-fur or fur-free coat when they know that real fur involves anally electrocuting a fox or slitting the throat of a rabbit?
Given that reality, it's hardly surprising that a 2011 poll by market research group Taylor Nelson Sofres found that 95 percent of the British public refuses to wear real fur. It's telling that you can't find real fur on the British high street. Compassionate retailers such as Topshop, H&M, Mango, Marks & Spencer and River Island and department stores such as House of Fraser, Liberty and Selfridges refuse to contribute to the bloody fur industry (and they know, of course, only a small handful of callous clients would choose to buy it).
And the anti-fur movement is not just big in animal-loving Britain — it’s reflected across the globe. Israel may soon ban the sale of fur within its borders; the City Council in West Hollywood, California, directed the city attorney to draft an ordinance banning fur sales; and fur was recently banned from Oslo Fashion Week. Fashion icons such as Carla Bruni-Sarkozy and Penélope Cruz have sworn off fur, and some of the UK's best-loved stars — including Leona Lewis, Twiggy and Ricky Gervais — have spoken out against it.
Fashion isn't found in granny's closet; it's set by innovative designers who embrace eco- and animal-friendly materials and advances in fabric and fibre technologies that make the most out of metal, cotton, cork and synthetics. Just look at Stella McCartney, Vivienne Westwood, Vika Gazinskaya and new favourite Shrimps, who are working with cutting-edge technologies to produce exquisite vegan fabrics that don't bleed. The only place left for fur in fashion is in old back copies of Vogue.
Elisa Allen is the associate director of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
The views expressed in Op-Ed pieces are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Business of Fashion.
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