A lot of people would never wear real fur as it is deemed cruel, so why isn’t there the same attitude towards other animal products?
The leather trade makes around half of all profits generated by slaughterhouses; many animals are bred specifically for their skins and are kept in extreme confinement. Others, such as deer, crocodiles, kangaroos and dolphins, are hunted and killed for their skins.
Silk is considered a luxurious material, but it is produced by boiling silk worms to death while they are fully conscious inside their cocoons. Hundreds of silkworms may be killed for just one silk scarf.
Wool may also be unavoidably linked to the meat industry. In Australia, the most commonly raised sheep are purposely bred for their wrinkly skin, which means that they produce more wool. Due to the unnatural amount of wool, many sheep collapse and die of heat exhaustion, and the moisture that collects in the wrinkles attracts flies which lay eggs. The hatched maggots may eat the sheep alive, so farmers perform ‘mulesing’, where the sheep are forced onto their backs with their legs restrained and have chunks of flesh sliced from their tail area to cause smooth skin that won’t harbour fly eggs, with no pain relief.
Feathers and down may be used in coats and jackets. They can be collected after geese and ducks have been slaughtered; however, sometimes feathers will be plucked from live birds, which causes them a great deal of pain and distress.
So what are the alternatives? There are many great companies that manufacture and sell vegan, cruelty free shoes, handbags, jackets and jumpers etc. such as the ones listed under fashion here.
You can also pick up many items of non-animal clothes, shoes and accessories in high street shops and online stores - just be sure to check the label to ensure the materials are entirely synthetic.