London, 6th December 2021 – Despite growing demand for brands to ditch materials like fur and exotic skins animal welfare is not a trend for most of the biggest fashion names. In the run-up to Christmas global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS have revealed the black sheep of fashion and hopes to steer consumers to support those ditching animal derived materials and showing more compassion in fashion. 18 British brands including household names All Saints, John Lewis, M&S, Next, Primark, Superdry and Reiss were evaluated by brand rating platform Good On You to assess their progress in animal welfare. Shockingly despite consumers craving more animal-friendly fashion than ever before, brands like Hermes, Prada and Louis Vuitton continue to underperform when it comes to considering animal welfare in their supply chains. Luxury giants Harrods, who continue to sell fur despite objections to its production by 79% of Brits*, narrowly missed the bottom of the list.
Whilst the first Animal Welfare in Fashion report from FOUR PAWS in 2020 put the focus on consumers’ expectations, the second and latest edition now takes a closer look at the brands and producers and, whilst good progress has been made within the industry overall, there is still a long way to go. Sadly for the UK, despite being the fifth largest fashion market and contributing over 5% to the global GDP each year, there is more work to do when addressing animal welfare in the supply chains. Even with the rapidly growing demand from consumers for more animal friendly fashion, less than a third (32%) of British brands use certified wool and down, 68% use one or more animal derived materials and just 11% have committed to reducing their use of such materials. Consistently across all countries translating policy into action remains the biggest challenge.
Emily Wilson FOUR PAWS UK Head of Campaigns says:“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.”
But the tide is turning. British brands like Stella McCartney and sustainability pioneers People Tree are standing out for all the right reasons by prioritising animal welfare.
Emily Wilson continues: “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.”
A slow but steady change
Brands like People Tree and Stella McCartney are demonstrating that more compassion in fashion and supporting animal-friendly textiles is possible. Earlier this year the brand signed a FOUR PAWS letter of intent to no longer use merino wool. Emily Wilson continues: “We hope that in the coming years more brands will show that animal welfare and fashion can exist side by side.”
Additional encouraging successes for the UK from the FOUR PAWS 2021 Animal Welfare in Fashion report show:
14% of brands have improved their animal welfare rating
More than half (53%) have a formal animal welfare policy
58% communicate a position against mulesing (the process where the skin is removed from the buttocks of lambs without any anaesthetic in a bid to prevent fly strike)
Luxury and Fast Fashion perform worst
Despite the advances made by Stella McCartney, the brand remains an anomaly within the luxury sector. With a market segment of 23%, luxury brands achieve the lowest score largely due to their high rate of wildlife exploitation (using fur and exotic leathers) and 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. By introducing time-bound commitments to eliminate animal-derived textiles from supply chains and pledging to only source certified wool and down feathers, brands can not only increase their rankings in the report but protect animals too. Finally, these measures should be encompassed within formal animal welfare policies. Only if all these steps are taken can we guarantee a greater consideration of animal welfare in fashion.
The 'best' and 'worst' brand lists and the full copy of the report download it here: https://wearitkind.four-paws.org/industry-information
*2,109 UK residents polled by YouGov 7th-18th January 2021.