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Stella McCartney named "sustainable pioneer” in Four Paws animal welfare report

By Danielle Wightman-Stone


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Image: Four Paws

Four Paws has released its latest ‘Animal Welfare in Fashion’ report revealing the best and worst fashion brands when it comes to considering animal welfare in fashion supply chains.

It reveals that Stella McCartney and People Tree excel within the UK, whilst Harrods, which continues to sell fur despite objections to its production by 79 percent of British consumers, narrowly missed the bottom of the list, which included luxury fashion houses Hermes, Prada and Louis Vuitton.

When it comes to British brands, which included 17 percent of all brands researched for the report, the average score for animal welfare was 59 percent, compared to 60 percent for total brands in 2021. The animal welfare organisation added that 53 percent of British brands have a formal animal welfare policy and 58 percent have communicated a position against mulesing.

Wool, traditional leather, and down are the three most used animal-derived materials, with 95 percent of British brands using wool, while 79 percent use traditional leather and 58 percent use down. With Four Paws noting that just 32 percent use certified wool and down, while 68 percent use one or more animal-derived materials, other than traditional leather, which it states carry exceptionally high animal welfare risk, such as alpaca, mohair, shearling, and fish leather.

Only 11 percent of the British brands in the report have committed to reducing their use of animal-derived materials.

However, Four Paws did add that the “tide is turning” and that 14 percent of brands assessed by Good On You have significantly improved their animal welfare rating since 2019, while 15 percent of the brands performed well above the average in the sample, with a score for Animals between 75-90 percent.

Four Paws releases ‘Animal Welfare in Fashion’ report

Four Paws UK head of campaigns, Emily Wilson said in a statement: “In the lead up to Christmas, consumers should vote with their wallets and shun fashion brands who continue to use materials derived from animal cruelty. One in three consumers now seek animal-friendly credentials when deciding what or where to buy, compared to pre-Covid-19, so it is vital for brands to know about the conditions faced by animals within their supply chains.

“This ignorance to suffering ensures millions of animals continue to endure mulesing, live plucking, forced feeding, poor welfare conditions and more. Worse still is brands extolling their care for animals, but upon digging deeper, you’ll often find weak or patchy animal welfare policies or worse yet, none at all.”

The Four Paws report featured 18 British brands including All Saints, John Lewis, Marks & Spencer, Next, Primark, Superdry, Reiss, Asos, Boohoo, Burberry, F&F Clothing, Harrods, Missguided, New Look, People Tree, Stella McCartney, Thought and Tu Clothing. All were evaluated by brand rating platform Good On You to assess their progress in animal welfare.

Stella McCartney topped the ranking with a 90 percent score for its leadership in animal welfare in fashion to be named a ‘Best’ brand of 2021, while People Tree was just behind with an 85 percent score. Both were singled out by Four Paws for demonstrating that more compassion in fashion and supporting animal-friendly textiles is possible.

Wilson added: “With cruelty-free materials becoming increasingly accessible and available it is clear there should no longer be a place for animal abuse in fashion. This second edition of the Animal Welfare in Fashion report aims to get more companies to step up and not only reduce their use of animal-derived materials but also commit to use animal welfare certifications in their productions. Only once this is achieved can we eliminate the cruel practices interwoven with fashion. We hope that in the coming years more brands will show that animal welfare and fashion can exist side by side.”

The report also revealed that luxury and fast fashion perform the worst. Despite the advances made by Stella McCartney, the brand remains an anomaly within the luxury sector. With a market segment of 23 percent, luxury brands achieve the lowest score largely due to their high rate of wildlife exploitation, such as using fur and exotic leathers, and a general lack of transparency as to the conditions animals are made to endure and not disclosing what, if any, animal welfare policies they adhere to.

Four Paws suggests that brands can increase their ranking by introducing time-bound commitments to eliminate animal-derived textiles from supply chains and by pledging to only source certified wool and down feathers, which will also protect animals. It also adds these measures should be encompassed within formal animal welfare policies.

Image: Four Paws; 'Animal Welfare in Fashion' 2021 report

Stella McCartney, Icebreaker and Another Tomorrow leading the way with animal welfare according to Four Paws

Top of the ‘Best’ brands of 2021 with Stella McCartney were outdoor brand Icebreaker and sustainable brand Another Tomorrow, who all achieved a 90 percent rating by Good On You. Rounding off the top 10 brands were Takko, People Tree, Nikon, Mara Hoffman, Armedangels, Afends and Smartwool all achieving scores above 84 percent.

There were also several brands that Four Paws identified as “making significant progress” on animal welfare with a ‘Good’ rating and they included Kiki Clothing, Kathmandu, Tom Tailor, The North Face, Sealand, Patagonia and Lunar, all with ratings above 75 percent.

Down at the bottom and branded a ‘Worst’ brand for 2021 for failing to meet adequate animal welfare standards were Hermés, Fendi, Prada, Dior, Louis Vuitton, Max Mara and Moncler who were all given a zero percent score. While Michael Kors scored 8 percent, followed by Coach with 13 percent and Off-White with 15 percent.

However, Four Paws did state that on the positive side Hermès and the LVMH brands Dior, Louis Vuitton and Fendi have formal animal welfare policies and time-bound commitments to source certified wool and/or down. However, the factor with the most adverse impact on their scores, and the scores of all the brands above, is the use of one or more of the animal materials which it deems unacceptable such as fur, exotic skins, and angora.

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