• Animal welfare in fashion: study shows lack of ethical practices

    February 1, 2024


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    A recent study highlights significant gaps in the fashion industry’s commitment to animal welfare, revealing an urgent need for better practices and standards.

    The collaboration between global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS and the sustainability rating agency Good On You, evaluated 100 international fashion brands.

    The project results show a glimpse of the industry’s efforts to improve animal welfare in fashion and reduce reliance on animal-derived materials.

    Study reveals there’s still a lack of animal welfare in fashion

    Spanning nine market segments, the research highlights brands such as Nike and Zara in sports and fast fashion, respectively.

    In positive news, it acknowledges leaders like Patagonia and Stella McCartney for their ongoing commitment to animal welfare.

    While this is in contrast to luxury brands like Max Mara, Prada, and Hermès, which were identified as falling short of positive animal welfare standards.


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    “The key finding here is, an increasing number of brands are being incentivised to put ethics and sustainability at the heart of their business.”

    The Sydney-based FOUR PAWS team, working alongside Good On You in Australia, has observed progress among top-scoring brands but remains concerned about the industry’s widespread failure to make significant advancements.

    With an estimated five billion animals affected annually for fashion, the importance of prioritising animal welfare is more pressing than ever.

    Ranny Rustam, the research lead at FOUR PAWS, emphasises the importance of going beyond superficial efforts.

    “While ensuring adequate care of animals used is crucial to any company’s sustainability strategy, brands are still generally washing their hands of animals’ needs,” says Rustam.

    “(some) others attempt to ‘welfare-wash’ over consumer concerns.”

    Gordon Renouf, CEO of Good On You, highlights a positive trend in the research.

    “The key finding here is, an increasing number of brands are being incentivised to put ethics and sustainability at the heart of their business,” he says.

    “Thanks to consumers who are using their power to push the industry forward.”

    Sustainable fashion

    However, the report also highlights a critical issue with the certification rates for animal-derived materials in fashion. Materials such as mohair, cashmere, wool, and down, remain alarmingly low. This indicates a significant oversight in ensuring humane treatment within the supply chain, with few brands achieving certification for the majority of their materials.

    Additionally, the study points to the broader implications of relying on animal-derived materials in fashion. Including public health and climate risks associated with the commercial exploitation of animals and the high carbon emissions from material production.

    The findings call for the fashion industry to set clear, measurable goals and invest in sustainable, humane alternatives, promising not only to reduce animal suffering but also to mitigate the environmental impact of fashion, paving the way for a more ethical and eco-conscious future.


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