Why Standards and Certifications Are No Guarantee for Cruelty-Free Fashion

Why Standards and Certifications Are No Guarantee for Cruelty-Free Fashion

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In 2015, sustainably minded outerwear model Patagonia minimize ties with its “moral” Argentinian wool provider, Ovis 21, after a ground-breaking investigation into the provider’s operations confirmed sheep being mutilated and skinned alive. The occasion shook the world of vogue – Patagonia was lengthy often known as a model with sustainability and ethics on the forefront of their philosophy, which contributed  to creating this one of the vital memorable cases proving that labels and certifications don’t go a really lengthy method to defend the animals utilized in vogue manufacturing.

With right this moment’s difficult provide chains and most of what we put on being made continents away from the tip client, how can we make sure that our garments are actually, actually ethically made? To assist information customers, certification schemes exist to guarantee just about something from low CO2 emissions to the absence of kid labour. But in terms of one notably hot-topic difficulty – animal cruelty – these schemes depart huge query marks.

Perhaps essentially the most notable instance is the fur {industry}’s Origin Assured label, created to certify customers that the fur product they have been shopping for got here from a rustic the place rules assured excessive animal welfare and humane practices. The label has nearly disappeared from on-line and offline advertising after PETA teamed up with a number of different animal safety teams in international locations that fell underneath the Origin Assured scheme, leading to Cruelty Assured, an investigation that confirmed the identical barbaric abuse on fur farms in these international locations that runs rampant within the commerce elsewhere. Furthermore, when Dutch fur-industry promotion initiative Furlab tried to run commercials claiming that fur is ethically sourced, the Advertising Standards Agency slammed down on the adverts, agreeing with PETA that such claims didn’t carry sufficient substance.

Pioneering sustainably-minded outerwear model Patagonia minimize ties with Argentinian wool provider, Ovis 21, when it was revealed sheep have been being mutilated and skinned alive. Photo: Ajay_Suresh.

The Patagonia scandal introduced wool into the highlight in a method that it had beforehand been spared from. Stella McCartney, who additionally used Ovis21 and minimize ties with them instantly following the video, commented that the information had prompted her to look into vegan wool: “I’m devastated by the information however extra decided than ever to combat for animal rights in vogue collectively and monitor much more carefully all suppliers concerned on this {industry} to finish all harmless lives. We are additionally wanting into vegan wool as nicely, in the identical method we have been in a position to develop and incorporate high-end alternate options to leather-based and fur over time.”

Wool is commonly deemed at greatest a sustainable, pure material and at worst a gray space – and types within the commerce depend on the Responsible Wool Standard to guarantee customers that animals are handled in a respectful method. But after PETA and its worldwide associates launched footage from over 100 sheep-shearing amenities on 4 continents – eliminating the parable that animal abuse occurs “some place else” – all displaying violence, senseless shearing and sheep left with bloody wounds, the credibility of the RWS began to crumble. In 2020, a sheep shearer in Australia, in addition to one in Scotland, pleaded responsible to costs of animal cruelty.

“Shearers proceed to be caught beating, stamping on, chopping, and in any other case badly injuring sheep as if these terrified animals have been inanimate objects,” mentioned PETA UK Director Elisa Allen. “The Responsible Wool Standard is a sham, and PETA is advising retailers to cease duping customers and supporting this abuse by switching to vegan wool and different cruelty-free fibres.”

Related Post: Witnessing the Vegan Fashion Revolution – From Inside the Industry

The Responsible Down customary is one other instance of labels and certifications that organisations imagine are finally failing to guard animals. Most individuals who select to put on down jackets and sleep on feather-filled bedding are horrified when studying about live-plucking – the observe of tearing fistfuls of feathers from geese and geese’ our bodies whereas the animals are totally aware. Plucking is simply meant to happen after birds have been killed for meat, however live-plucking is rampant within the down {industry} – as the provision chain is extremely murky and sophisticated, live-plucking can nonetheless happen regardless of reassurances of the opposite. Buying a down product might additionally imply supporting the foie gras {industry}, a commerce specialising in fatty goose and duck liver, which is obtained by force-feeding animals till their liver expands to many instances its pure dimension. This course of is so inhumane that it’s banned in a number of international locations – however usually, the birds used for down are the identical ones force-fed for foie gras.


These cases and extra have led to the coining of the time period “humane-washing”, a continuation of “greenwashing”, the place company advertising is packaged as moral. And unsurprisingly, animal welfare is the area the place humane-washing is believed to abound. Animals can not communicate up for themselves in a method that people perceive, which makes it easy for us to label sure processes ‘humane’ and have that go unchallenged.

Labels, requirements and certifications, whereas definitely well-meaning, exist for one purpose: to reassure the buyer. The outrage unleashed by an animal-cruelty scandal is one thing that no model needs, and organising what’s finally a advertising scheme to carry up the looks of guaranteeing animal welfare helps preserve firms out of these sizzling waters. But ultimately, as investigative footage proves, 12 months after 12 months, each time animals are handled as commodities, struggling will observe.

And in fact, there may be all the time the query of whether or not we’re justified in killing animals for vogue within the first place – activists argue that with so many cruelty-free choices accessible to customers right this moment, persevering with to provide you with labels to justify a barely nicer method of killing is pointless and archaic. As nice a life as animals dwelling underneath the requirements could have had (and as we’ve seen, more often than not it’s something however), not one of the schemes can deny that ultimately they’re despatched to the identical slaughterhouse as animals whose pores and skin is offered with no “licensed humane” label. So if customers actually need to put on that coat or jacket with none lurking doubts referring to animal cruelty, the one label they’ll belief is one that claims “vegan”.

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Cover picture by Leigh Harries.

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