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London Fashion Week: Is it About Time to Ditch Leather?

Updated: Jul 3, 2023

This article delves into animal cruelty and describes the PETA protest regarding leather at the London 2019 Fashion Week. Fernando uses his own photography from the event and comments on what can be done to help protect animals from cruelty.

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Leather is a dirty business

“We believe that animals are not ours to experiment on, eat, wear, use for our entertainment or abuse in any other way”.


Yet many people have never considered the impact that their clothes, food, cosmetics or entertainment may have on the lives of animals. PETA believe that education is the first step towards a more caring way of life.

During London Fashion Week, a group from PETA supporters gave London Fashion Week attendees an eyeful as they poured buckets of black “toxic slime”, representing the harmful waste generated by the leather industry. Text on the buckets read, “Leather Is a Dirty Business” and “Dump Leather.”

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Protesters poured ‘toxic’ slime over themselves

The protest reminded people that the leather industry is poisoning the living world. Because of the massive amounts of manure and slaughter waste, intensive water use, deforestation, and greenhouse-gas emissions involved in its production, leather is the most environmentally damaging material, as confirmed by the 2017 “Pulse of the Fashion Industry” report.

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Leather is not a sustainable material

Indeed, the United Nations is calling for a transition away from animal agriculture which is responsible for nearly a fifth of human-induced greenhouse-gas emissions, in order to protect the environment.

The demand for leather also fuels the destruction of the Amazon rainforest, as Brazilian cattle ranchers supply leather to leading global fashion brands and retailers.

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Protestors asked for the fashion industry to ‘dump leather’

Leather Production Damages Human Health

A PETA exposé of the leather industry in Bangladesh, narrated by Leona Lewis, shows that leather production is toxic for human health, too. Tanneries use harmful chemicals to prevent animals’ skin from decaying. Unprotected workers, including children, stand barefoot as they soak hides in carcinogenic chemicals, and the noxious waste is then dumped into the river.

As tanning is such a dangerous process, it’s no longer undertaken in most European countries or the US, so operations are moving elsewhere, jeopardising the health of people in other parts of the world so that consumers in the West can continue wearing leather shoes and jackets.

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The industry can damage human health too

Cows Suffer Immensely in the Leather Industry

The leather industry subjects animals to horrific cruelty. Most of the leather is produced using the hides of cows farmed for their flesh and those used for dairy who are no longer producing enough milk to be profitable. They endure all the horrors of factory farming – including intensive confinement to filthy pens, castration without pain relief, chronic infections and disease caused by extreme crowding, and a terrifying trip to the abattoir.

You Never Know Whose Skin You’re In

It’s not only cows who are killed for the leather trade: sheep, horses, goats, pigs, and even cats and dogs are also victims of the industry. An estimated 2 million cats and dogs are killed in China each year for their skins. When you wear leather, there’s no easy way to know for sure whose skin you’re in.

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Whose skin are you in?

How You Can Help Animals and the Planet

The best way to protect animals and the environment is to adopt a vegan lifestyle. In addition to combating deforestation, decreasing their carbon footprint, and sparing the lives of nearly 200 animals each per year, people who go vegan reduce their risk of suffering from heart disease, diabetes, cancer, obesity, and other health conditions.

It should instead showcase the multitude of vegan leather and faux-fur materials available (including both natural fabrics and recycled synthetics) which have a far lighter environmental footprint and don’t contribute to animal suffering.

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About the Author: Fernando Matoso is a photographer, his pictures are from London Fashion Week, September 2019. You can find his work here:

Information taken from PETA

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