A new exposé by Peta is aimed to shake up fashion’s leather industry, which often overlooks transparency in the supply chain of manufacturers, specifically when it comes to animal cruelty.
A global-wide ban of fur and industry calling for the ethical treatment of animals has largely evaded leather producers, as leather is still seen as a byproduct and therefore assumed it must be cruelty free.
In an exposé by Manfred Karremann, Peta Germany reveals the horrifying cruelty of live transport in the leather industry, in which animals are sent on long and hellish journeys across the globe to be killed. These journeys can sometimes take many weeks to distant countries where animals are subsequently slaughtered on site for leather. Labels like “made in Italy” reveal nothing about the origin of the leather or treatment of the animal.
Even the most luxurious, high-end designer items do not ensure the animal’s welfare, as leather is the most economically important byproduct of the meat industry. Other examples cited by Peta say the “purchasing of skins from cows raised in the U.S. likely pays for the horrors of factory farming, including castration, branding, dehorning animals, all without painkillers.”
A billion dollar industry
Every year the global leather industry slaughters over 1 billion animals, with China the top exporter, including skins from cattle, sheep. Yet even domestic animals are slaughtered and may be intentionally mislabeled and sold to unsuspecting customers.
A global polluter
The carcinogenic chemicals used to tan leather pollute the surrounding environment endangering the lives of animals and humans, says Peta. As leather is financially significant to the meat industry, it contributes enormously to the industry’s depletion of water, fossil fuels, pasture land as well as to climate change.
According to Grand View Research, the global leather goods market size is expected to reach USD 629.65 billion by 2025. Footwear is the predominant market and demand is growing despite widespread sustainability awareness.
If consumers demand traceability, brands will be forced to adopt new standards and procedures. In the meantime, see Peta’s list of leather-free alternatives.
Image: Stella McCartney vegan leather