Zoe was rescued from a fur farm

Shopping Guide for Animal-Friendly Fashion

From wool to down – have a heart for animals when shopping 


With new fashions coming in and out of style quicker than ever, it's vitally important to ensure we are as ethical and sustainable with our shopping purchases as we can be. Animal textiles can be hidden in many clothing choices and accessories, and so we are making it as easy as possible to identify, avoid and find alternatives for wool, fur, down and leather.

What do I have to consider when buying wool and woollen clothing?

There are many ethical considerations to be taken when purchasing wool products. One of these is the process of 'mulesing'. The mulesing industry restrains lambs, at just a few weeks old, and cuts off the skin around the buttocks. This happens with the help of shears and usually without anaesthesia. This procedure is operated in Australia, where most of the world's produced merino wool comes from. The reason for the mulesing is producers try to prevent flies from attacking their sheep.

FOUR PAWS vehemently opposes the use of mulesing and is campaigning to ensure that textile companies in the future do without wool products in their range of wool comes from sheep. Also, when purchasing wool yarns for the self-knitted sweater for the grandkids, caution is required. Because wool yarns can come from Australian sheep who had to undergo the mulesing procedure. Mulesing-free wool, which can be traced throughout the supply chain, is already being offered by major wool suppliers.

Read more about our campaign #woolwithabutt and check out our progressive brands list against the cruel practice of mulesing.

Other luxury fine-wool fabrics such as Angora, Mohair and Cashmere also come at great suffering to animals.

What should I look for in down products?

Down in jackets, pillows, quilts and similar products are usually derived from geese and ducks from intensive livestock farming. In the worst case, the animals suffer from live plucking or stuffing from mass production. If the consumer wants to completely eliminate animal suffering, FOUR PAWS recommends resorting to down alternatives. Many now similarly relate in terms of warmth and quality with down.

Those who do not want to be without down, should pay attention to appropriate standards such as Responsible Down Standard (RDS) or Global Traceable Down Standard (Global TDS) in order to exclude animal torture.

More can be read about down here.

How do I differentiate between real fur and fake fur?

Fur pompom, fur trimming on hoods, collars, gloves or shoes: behind every little fur application can hide enormous animal suffering. Real fur is not always labeled, but often declared as faux fur. The assumption that animal-friendly manufactured real fur is also a misconception. Certifications such as 'ethically correct fur' or 'animal-friendly' European fur are names that fashion manufacturers have considered to promote the sale of these fur products.

FOUR PAWS is committed to a fur-free Europe and, as a representative of the 'Fur Free Retailer Program' in Austria, Germany, Bulgaria, South Africa and Australia involved in moving large fashion houses to a fur-free future.

Fox Porthos at TIERART 2017

And what about leather?

Leather is often perceived as a so-called by-product of meat production. But also the production of leather is associated with animal suffering. Information about where companies buy leather for shoes, belts or jackets, is usually very limited, if not at all. This emphasises the fact that the lack of transparency often means lack, or no animal welfare standards for the product.

FOUR PAWS is currently not aware of any company that transparently discloses the complete leather supply chain in terms of animal welfare aspects. Therefore, FOUR PAWS advises animal-friendly consumers to completely dispense with leather products.

We Need More Compassion in Fashion!

To make kinder fashion choices, you can avoid mohair and shop for animal-friendly alternatives. You could consider buying second-hand clothing from places such as charity shops, and if you are buying brand new, there are several sustainable alternatives you can choose when out shopping:

  1. Recycled acrylic – made from recycled plastic. This is the most widely used fabric for a wool alternative
  2. Recycled polyester – made from recycled plastic bottles. Also widely used and requires only 30% of the energy that polyester does
  3. Organic cotton – no use of chemicals of GMOs. Organic cotton products are produced without using harmful synthetic chemicals or additives
  4. TENCEL™ Lyocell – made from wood pulp. This is manufactured through an environmentally friendly process and is biodegradable and recyclable… and many more!

Warm and cosy winter clothes can be animal-friendly!

It is best if you rely on natural vegetable fibers such as cotton to be sure that no animal had to suffer for the sweater or scarf. 
If it should be wool or down, always pay attention to the quality label and ask the manufacturer.

Together, we can drive an animal-friendly fashion future

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