Fashion industry, it’s time to take the animals out of the closet and let them run free

Published January 10, 2021, 10:58 AM

by John Legaspi

There’s just no other way

For its January issue, fashion magazine Vogue Italia celebrates the beauty of the animal kingdom on its seven covers. Through the lens of an esteemed photographer, the creatures, from the menacing felines of the wild and the busiest colony of bees to the tame and delicate canine, lamb, and ostrich, are presented in their natural habitats the form in artworks or in a beautified studio shoot to raise awareness on a decades-long initiative. 

Images from @vogueitalia

“Animals do not exist for our purpose, nor as a function of what we would like them to be,” says Vogue Italia editor in chief Emanuele Farneti. “And it seems almost too obvious that the fashion industry, like any other economic activity, must ask itself where the limits lie in the exploitation of natural resources, and what prospects are offered by technological aspects.”

The Italian style bible has never been shy about addressing industry issues in its cover since the time of its great late editor Francesca Sozzanni, e.g. plastic surgery and oil spill. What’s also not new here are these talks about fashion having a vegan diet. The topic has been around for years, yet the goals of bringing down its animal consumption is still far from what should be achieved.

In the past years, fashion houses and luxury brands from New York to Paris have already taken a stand against the use of animal products for fashion, and yet creatures are still captured, caged, and maltreated. Unfortunately, even if fur and other items made of animal materials are now out of style for ethical purposes, wealth still keeps the production alive. A proof of this is the death of almost 17 million mink were killed in a farm in Denmark due to coronavirus mutation, according to the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

Minks (Photo by Jo-Anne McArthur)

And if you think the Philippines is off-limits when it comes to this topic, think again. Silk, though they’re among the best textile for clothing, undergoes the same process that is cruel to animals. Thankfully, Filipino fashion leaders like designer Monique Lhullier pledge to go ethical by the end of 2021. Social organizations such as Rags2Riches, Anthill Fabric Gallery, GREAT Women Projects, among others, are not only celebrating the Philippine craft and empowers Filipinas, but are also catalysts in the local retail scene in searching for more sustainable ways of producing clothes, and commiting to it.

Silkworms (Photo by Quang Nguyen Vinh)

Although Ferneti advises the industry to look into “technological aspects” in finding a way to build a more cruelty-free fashion, history has shown that the solution to this problem is not by looking into the future, but in the past. Giving respect to natural resources, consuming and producing just enough, and creating pieces that up to their last use are not detrimental to the environment have been embedded in many cultural practices.

So do yourself a favor: Instead of demonizing animal rights organizations to justify your style desires, do your research and know the story that goes behind your fur coat, crocodile leather bags, or your snakeskin boots. We don’t want to wake up on that day when there are no more pretty animals left in the wild and we skin our beloved pets because we couldn’t just get enough. These future alternative scenes are heartbreaking just thinking about them.