Jun Takahashi, the founder of the Japanese brand Undercover, has apologised for using live butterflies in dresses and promised to never feature living animals in his designs again. The animal rights group PETA had complained to him about the Undercover’s “terrarium” dresses, which contained flowers and live butterflies during the label’s Spring-Summer 2024 show at Paris Fashion Week in September 2023.

PETA wrote to Takahashi in October to inform him that butterflies used for public displays are “typically either ripped from nature or captive bred on farms,” and that many are crushed or die while they are shipped “like cargo” in envelopes and small boxes. Jun Takahashi replied in a letter to PETA on 17th October, “I regret that I trapped butterflies that could fly freely in the sky.”  The designer added that while his label strove to create the “most comfortable environment possible” for the insects, he knew it was a mistake, as he wrote, “I felt guilty, yet I decided to put butterflies in the dress for my own creations.”

A spokesperson for PETA told CNN that a representative from the organization met with Takahashi in person to thank him for his letter, and they had a “constructive discussion.”

After facing similar complaints from PETA, the New York department store Barneys stopped featuring insects in its displays over its use of live monarch butterflies in 2018.

Insects are sentient beings that suffer as mammals or birds do, so the fashion industry, which is already gradually moving away from the use of fur, should not only stop using leather and feathers but also any animal product coming from insects, such as bee wax or carmine (a pigment that is made by boiling and grinding up cochineal beetles).

Jordi Casamitjana
“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.