Animals suffer immensely for fashion. They are bred in atrocious conditions or stolen from their natural habitats before their skin, fur, and feathers are ripped violently from their bodies. Animal cruelty is never in style.
PLEASE TAKE ACTION FOR ANIMALS WHO ARE EXPLOITED FOR FASHION TODAY:
The following list includes the natural fibers and common terms for products that are derived from animals:
The natural fibers taken from sheep or lambs, goats, alpacas, llamas, camels, rabbits, bison, and oxen are collectively known as wool. Textiles made from or containing animals’ wool may be labeled as the following:
- Fleece: the wool coat covering sheep, goats, or other wool-bearing animals or the wool obtained from one shearing.
- Shearling/Lambskin/Sheepskin is the skin from a shorn sheep or lamb with the wool still attached after the tanning process. The animals are typically sent to slaughter soon after the shearing process.
- Lambswool: wool taken from a baby lamb’s first shearing when they are just a few months old.
- Merino wool: thin, soft wool sheared from the bodies of Merino sheep.
- Angora Hair/Fiber/Wool: the wool taken from Angora rabbits.
- Cashmere: the lightweight hair fibers taken from cashmere goats, pashmina goats, and other goat breeds.
- Camel Hair: the soft undercoat of camels that is often combined with other types of wool or may be blended with the animals’ coarse outer hair.
- Mohair: lightweight wool sheared from Angora goats.
- Shetland Wool: soft, lightweight wool sheared from Scotland’s Shetland goats.
- Melton Wool: thick wool fibers that are typically woven into textiles.
- Alpaca Fleece/Wool: the wool taken from Suri or Huacaya alpaca breeds.
- Qiviut: the undercoat taken from the musk ox.
- Wool Product: any product containing wool or recycled wool.
The most commonly accessible wool is sheep’s wool. Sheep naturally produce a thick coat of wool to insulate their bodies, and many people believe that sheep require human intervention to remove excess wool. However, this is only the case for genetically modified sheep the wool industry has created to produce excessive amounts of wool. Wild sheep do not need to be sheared of their wool.
Young lambs raised for their wool undergo a horrific procedure called mulesing, which involves restraining the animals and cutting large chunks of skin from their backsides. This barbaric process causes the terrified lambs extreme pain and makes them highly susceptible to infections. When sheep are typically between 6-12 months old, they are roughly handled and violently shorn of their wool with sharp blades. They may suffer from deep cuts and injuries as a result of the shearing process.
When sheep stop producing the desired amount of wool, they are typically sent to slaughter for their meat. Millions of live sheep are transported to the Middle East and North Africa every year. They are crammed onto filthy, overcrowded ships that can hold up to tens of thousands of animals. Many sheep do not survive live exports and die at sea due to disease, extreme temperatures, or starvation. Once the remaining sheep reach land, they are transported to large slaughter lots or individual buyers’ homes to be killed.
Snakes, crocodiles, alligators, and other reptiles and amphibians are killed for their skins by violent methods to make belts, wallets, shoes, handbags, and more. These animals are farmed in wretched conditions until they reach a size that will be profitable. Investigations have shown that their skins may be cut from their bodies while fully conscious. The body parts of larger animals killed for their skins, such as crocodiles, may also be sold for meat.
Meat and foie gras producers profit twice off of ducks and geese; once for selling their bodies and again for their feathers. The soft feathers closest to the birds’ skin is known as “down.” Due to its insulating properties, down is often used to make comforters, pillows, and jackets. Some birds have their feathers removed during slaughter, while other terrified, fully conscious birds are manhandled and undergo “live plucking.” Birds who are subjected to live plucking are restrained while handfuls of feathers are ripped from their bodies which leaves behind bloody wounds. Other birds, such as ostriches and peacocks, are farmed to steal their feathers to produce clothing and accessories.
Leather is collectively known as the skins and hides of animals that have been treated with chemicals and preservatives. While leather is produced from many animals, such as bison, zebras, deer, seals, walrus, sharks, and more, a large percentage of leather comes from cows who have been slaughtered for meat. The gruesome and agonizing process of hacking the skins from terrified cows’ bodies may even occur while the animal is still alive. Leather is often labeled as “Genuine Leather,” with no indication of the animals who died for it or where it came from. Nike and Adidas notoriously use the skins of kangaroos or “k-leather” to produce athletic shoes. Investigations have shown that imported leather has come from slaughtered cats and dogs.
Silkworms naturally produce soft fibers to create cocoons. To collect the silk fibers, the cocoons are boiled and stirred, a horrifically cruel practice that tortures and kills the silkworms inside. The fibers are then made into textiles and silk products.
Animal victims of the fur trade, such as mink, foxes, rabbits, chinchillas, raccoons, raccoon dogs, sable, beavers, seals, and even dogs and cats, are brutally killed for their fur. They are held in cramped, filthy cages on fur farms and deprived of everything wild animals need to thrive. Due to intense boredom and stress, these animals suffer from self-mutilation, infected wounds, missing limbs, and cannibalism. They are bludgeoned to death, internally electrocuted, or gassed before their fur is torn from their backs (sometimes while still conscious).
Fur-bearing animals are also trapped in the wild, where they suffer from severe wounds and injuries for prolonged periods before trappers return to kill them. Before being made into fur trim, coats, and accessories, animal fur is treated with toxic chemicals that pollute the environment, harm native wildlife, and pose potential health risks to humans.
Consumer demand for compassionately-made apparel is at an all-time high. Major designers and retailers around the globe have enacted fur-free policies to denounce the abject cruelty of the fur trade. Many countries have legally banned fur farming, such as Austria, Bosnia, Croatia, the Czech Republic, France, Herzegovina, Luxembourg, Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands, North Macedonia, Serbia, Slovenia, and the UK. Israel became the first country in the world to ban the sale of fur in 2021. Click here for the most up-to-date list of fur ban legislation.