Aren't animal-based textiles just a by-product of the meat industry?
There are many types of animal skins and fibers that deliver the main or significant income earned from that animal, making them either a primary or a co-product. This includes fur or wool for example, also crocodile leather and even cow hides in some cases.
In the instances where textile products are of a lower value, then say the meat derived from that animal, the textile may be referred to as a "by-product." However, the income earned from these by-products adds up significantly over time and may contribute just enough, to make that industry viable.
Therefore, by making good fashion choices and calling for transparency on all animal-based products, regardless of whether or not they are a by, co or primary product, everyone can influence how animals are treated across all agricultural industries.
Which are the most commonly used animals for fashion?
Billions of animals are used by the fashion industry every year. Sadly, due to a lack of transparency, it is hard to know the true extent of this. However, what we do know for the animals, is that annually:
- About 100 million are killed for fur – this includes seals, fox, mink, racoon dogs, coyotes, bobcats, karakul, and rabbits
- 3 million for exotic leather – crocodiles/alligators, ostrich, python
- 44 billion are used for wool – sheep, alpaca, angora goat, cashmere goat and shearling
- 776 million for domestic leather – cattle, goats, sheep and lambs, as well as dogs and cats, which are also killed for their fur
What can I do to help animals used for fashion?
We can express ourselves through what we wear, and one of the best things you can do is to wear what you feel good in, and about.
As a first step, become informed about the standard of animal welfare within the fashion industry. We have loads of information available throughout this website, plus a handy "How to Wear it Kind" guide to read through and save to help you make kinder choices.
And importantly, you can pledge to Wear It Kind ensuring to choose clothes and brands that encourage kindness. By pledging, you’ll show the fashion industry that you care about animals and want to see brands and retailers value their protection too.
What can brands do to help animals used for fashion?
Most immediately, FOUR PAWS is urging brands to understand and know more about their supply chains. Brands must also become transparent and enable their consumers to make informed decisions. We take this approach because we know that transparency leads to accountability and accountability leads to change.
Through the Wear It Kind campaign, FOUR PAWS is focused on achieving overall improvements, as well as targeted action on key spotlight issues.
Are you a brand or retailer and want to know more? Check out our Brands & Retailers page.
What should I look for if I want to be eco-conscious and reduce my consumption of animal-based textiles?
Tencel, cotton, linen, hemp, and more (or even better, organic or recycled versions of these textiles) are environmentally friendly and lovely to wear. Many brands are also using recycled polyester for outdoor wear and shoes, and even recycled nylon too. Check out Bakato turning discarded fishing nets into swimwear!
Vegetable leathers are now also becoming more mainstream. Do an online search for "Piñatex" leather made from pineapple waste, or apple leather made from apple skins, and you’ll be amazed at what you’ll find!
Eager to stop micro-plastics? We are too! It’s important we all reduce our consumption of any new plastic materials. And for washing our clothes that contain the stuff, use a Guppyfriend laundry bag.
What about human and environmental welfare in fashion?
While there is still much more to do on these fronts, the rise of ethical fashion has enabled big leaps forward to help protect humans and the environment in the production of clothing.
Through the Wear it Kind campaign, together we’re making sure that animal protection is the third pillar of ethical fashion. We believe that fashion can, and should, be kind to humans, the environment and animals. Read more on the links between human welfare and standards of animal care.
How has FOUR PAWS helped protect animals within the fashion industry?
Working collaboratively with other animal protection groups and the fashion industry itself, while campaigning for change alongside our supporters, fashionistas and consumers, FOUR PAWS has effectively moved the industry to better care for animals.
Since 1988, we have advocated for animals who are abused for fur, and now more broadly, fashion. Most recently, we successfully encouraged almost all major European brands to end their use of down from live-plucked or force-fed geese.
FOUR PAWS brings the expertise and the voice of animals to the discussion, helping to raise the bar within internationally recognized textile certification standards, while also working to promote sustainable solutions.
What is the difference between transparency and traceability, in relation to animal protection?
Transparency to enable better animal welfare standards, includes operating in such a way that it is easy for consumers to see how animal protection is valued and ensured by a brand or retailer. For example, brands should publish effective animal protection or welfare policies, as well as information about what standards of care are ensured for each type of animal used.
Traceability is having the capability to trace something, and to be able to know and share its credentials of where it originated from and the standards applied.
Check out our brands and retailer page if you’d like to know more.
Aren't there laws protecting animals used for fashion?
Sadly, international laws around animal production and labeling vary greatly, and most often they are severely lacking or non-existent. Even when there are laws, these can be ignored and completely unenforced.
Animal-based fashion products are created all around the world. For example, even if your shoes are labelled as being manufactured in the U.S., the raw materials can come from anywhere.
While FOUR PAWS is calling for better animal welfare laws, effective legislation can take decades to achieve and implement. That’s why we need brands to be transparent, thereby enabling consumers to make the right decision today. The animals can’t wait.