For thousands of years, animals have been used as a sacrifice as a means of obtaining food for survival and skin for warmth. Although this process isn’t really necessary for our daily lives, we still derive these skins in order to make high quality pieces for the wide population to enjoy. Items in particular, such as leather boots, could be seen as an almost materialistic necessity, especially in menswear, due to their high quality and ability to really stand the test of time in comparison to similar products of a faux material. But as we are still funding corporations that kill animals for the means of a good pair of boots, does that make it vital in today’s lifestyle with a wide variety of other cruelty free options available? Is it morally okay to cause harm on animals in the name of fashion?
Addressing the problem.
Although the trade of fur and leather has been a controversial topic for decades, the subject has definitely heightened in the public eye over the past few years, especially with the rise of vegetarianism and veganism. Many companies within the fashion industry have been demanded to stop killing animals for their skin, yet the problem has only just started to be answered as of this year, with brands in particular such as Burberry facing a lot of backlash back in the summertime for discarding unsold animal skinned goods with a lack of guilt for each animals life that they have killed.
This situation is made even worse when realising that brands like Burberry don’t just ‘answer’ to a supply and demand, they make the supply and demand. Fashion houses have been around for decades and have grown alongside the growing economy, and it’s very obvious to the average person that we are not living in war times anymore where the basic necessities are needing to be rationed. Brands know that customers are willing to pay £400 for a belt, so why stick to just one belt style?
The fashion industry is a multi-billion dollar industry because they have the power to advertise and project their products onto you so that you feel like you need it. They set trends with the intention of the public disregarding their recent belt purchase, claiming that its outdated and not in style now. This cycle is already a damaging problem for our environment and for ourselves, yet when innocent animals are being harmed by the dozens for the sake of trends, it makes the concept of these ‘necessities’ become a lot more dark and disturbing.
Is faux fur as bad as real fur?
Our modern development has gave us the ability to mimick these materials with the likes of faux fur and faux suede, yet some brands have only just abolished these sacrificial methods due to the growing backlash from the general public, not by the guilty conscience of a creative director. Faux materials are definitely a great moral option for creating new fur/leather style pieces, yet they are known to be less biodegradable than real pieces, so they are having more of an affect on our already damaged environment than real fur or leather items.
If you’re looking to invest in a faux fur coat that you are planning on wearing for as long as possible, then I’d say that’s a rightful decision, but with any short term ‘trendy’ pieces then I’d suggest that you might want to take more consideration with. At the end of the day, faux fur or real fur is going to damage the environment in one way or another, so be considerate to your reasoning for purchasing either one.
So, what do we do with all these existing pieces?
Here’s a hypothetical situation: in ten years time all fashion brands have discontinued the use of real fur and leather. All pieces being created each season are cruelty free and moral, yet we still have decades worth of leather goods. What do we do with it? Is it a bad thing to wear leather when there are other options out there? Well consider this, there are already thousands of leather and fur pieces that already exist whereby an animal has been killed and it’s skin has been used in the making of each piece, so what would be a better option; do we wear it and give a respectful use and purpose to this specific piece, or do we bin it out of discomfort or refusal to wear it?
For me personally, I’m very much against the current production of fur goods, as I just find it very immoral and outdated. Yet, I’m also very aware that these items already exist and have existed for decades now, and I began to read up on how people are buying leather goods second hand in order to use them respectfully by getting the worth out of them, without funding the fur and leather trade either, thus not causing anymore harm to an animal’s life.
I decided to try out this conscious shopping process when I took a visit to a local vintage shop called Disgraceland, where I was recommended a beautiful pair of brown leather boots. Now usually I’d be put off with the idea of wearing real leather, but I also thought ‘would I rather continue the lifespan of these pre-owned shoes by respectfully wearing them for as long as I can, or would I rather see them be left here with the chance of a future owner just binning them and cutting short the worth of that item?’ So, I took them home with me. Yes, I did feel a bit guilty to start with, since I’m not use to wearing real leather, yet I’m glad that I’ve got to show some appreciation for these boots for years to come in order to get their full worth out of them. (Also if you’re wanting to know how I’m liking the boots, they’re super comfy and very well made, so it’s a yes from me!) I will happily take good care of this beautiful pair of pre-owned boots and give them another chance at life.
Thank you for reading my thoughts on this ongoing issue within the fashion industry, I hope this has somehow made you think about the use of real materials in one way or another, and hopefully this might spark a conversation to bring more awareness to the topic!