Consumers are shaping progressive trends in many industries, from food to entertainment to cosmetics, bringing modern attitudes to global marketplaces.
Now the fashion industry is also undergoing a revamp, with ‘ethical fashion’ taking over catwalks, designer labels and moving into the mass market.
With Australia home to 2.1 million vegetarians and vegans, we are also seeing a shift in animal-friendly fashion preferences here and, as a result, in popular Aussie brands and products.
This trend means there is more demand for cruelty-free fashion, and more dollars being spent on animal-free materials such as faux fur and vegan leather.
This is great news for animals, and gives hope to the millions of animals who continue to suffer all for the sake of fashion.
Take fur for instance, while most of us may consider fur outdated, every year more than 100 million animals are still tortured and killed by the fur industry.
Minks, foxes, rabbits and raccoon dogs suffer on fur farms in tiny wire mesh cages, while other species meet a cruel death in traps.
Hideously, some animals farmed for fur such as foxes have been selectively bred to produce extreme levels of excess skin and therefore, more fur.
As a result, these poor foxes suffer from heavily folded skin, severe eye infections and badly malformed feet. In the wild, polar foxes would normally reach a weight of roughly four kilos but due to deliberate breeding for the largest possible amount of fur, these animals instead reach a weight of up to 20 kilos.
But after decades of fur being considered luxurious and high-end, there is a marked change in the air.
Never before have we witnessed so many fashion designers and brands committing to a fur free fashion future. Heavyweights like Gucci and Armani are changing the face of fashion runways, whereas mainstream leaders like H&M have turned their backs on fur in their clothing lines. Even entire cities are responding, with San Francisco recently becoming the largest US city to ban the sale of fur.
So as the Australian representative of the global Fur Free Retailer Program, FOUR PAWS Australia is already actively contacting brands and signing them up to this pledge, to join the 890 global brands who have already taken this step towards a fur free future.
All over the world, FOUR PAWS campaigns for a permanent ban on the keeping and killing of fur-bearing animals and an end of the usage of real fur in the fashion industry. We also want countries to ban the import of and trade in fur.
And it isn’t just fur that is in our sights.
There are millions of animals who suffer for fashion, from geese who are live plucked for down, to the crocodiles who are penned together on Queensland crocodile farms, awaiting skinning to be turned into a handbag.
We would like to see the suffering of an animal for fashion and textiles to be something that every consumer and brand considers at the point of purchase, and perhaps even to reconsider their purchase in preference for an animal-free option.
Fabulous fashion without animal suffering? Now that is a future we can all dress up for.
Elise Burgess is Head of Communications at FOUR PAWS Australia, a global animal protection organisation with animal rescue projects and offices all over the world.
Elise has worked in the Australian non-profit sector since 2012, as Head of Communications for Voiceless before taking her current role with FOUR PAWS Australia.
During her career, she has written and edited in-depth research reports on animal agriculture and headed up campaigns on controversial topics such as ag-gag legislation, the development of animal law, and factory farming in Australia. She has developed and presented strategies for social media, digital marketing and traditional media engagement, with a focus bringing animal protection mainstream.
Elise is a Fellow from The Centre for Australian Progress and was a speaker at the She Leads 2017 Conference.
Prior to moving into animal protection, Elise worked as a journalist and editor of financial industry publications for six years within Australia’s financial management sector.
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